This was the victory Tipperary so badly craved. And, having endured a difficult period since the defeat at the hands of Limerick in the Munster semi-final, it’s now game-on for the rest of the season.
But, what was different about this performance as opposed to that game against the defending Munster champions? It can probably explained perfectly by watching a video of the third Seamus Callanan goal, scored in the 35th minute.
At this stage, Tipperary were five clear with the game slipping into injury time. They were riding the crest of a wave. But, with Galway defenders in possession and throwing the ball about amongst themselves, Tipperary attackers got in amongst them, won the turnover and set Callanan en-route to beating his namesake for the third time.
Tipperary suffocated Galway by their hard work and credit where it is due, the did it in all sectors of the field. Patrick Bonner Maher had plenty of help in the ball winning stakes this time round; was not left to battle the lines on his own; and was assisted in the energy department by players who were fully tuned in and wired up for the job to hand. It was as simple as that - Tipp were fully focused and didn’t let the setbacks of the Glynn double goal blasts after half time upset them.
Callanan’s third goal showed Tipperary burying the Galway challenge. They continued to go for the juglar eventhough the life had drained from the Tribesmen - there was no such thing as taking the foot off the gas and cruising to victory. This was foot to the floor and drive over that finishing line.
The supporters reacted accordingly. Semple Stadium’s decibels rose above anything we have witnessed for some time and there was a fantastic buzz about afterwards. It was great to see and was a magnificent answer from the players to their critics.
Thing is, it has to be repeated. And, improved upon again.
Tipperary need to get to another level now - leaking four goals will not yield silverware and even if the attack is mass producing scores at the other end, it will always be difficult to make up the deficit.
It’s interesting to note that Tipperary bagged 2-10 in the last twenty minutes of the game. How much of this was down to Galway tiring? Or, was it a case that Tipperary simply blew them away? The answer probably lies somewhere in between.
It’s also interesting to note that with twenty minutes to go Tipperary and Galway had exactly the same number of scores - 16 each. But, Galway had four goals. That probably reflects accurately the run of the game. It was very evenly balanced with the initiative swaying this way and that.
However, when the Galway legs began to tie up, Tipp took full advantage. Noticable too that the Kilkenny legs didn’t tie up against Dublin in the Leinster Final, despite having had the same number of games as Galway. Fatigue can be mental as much as physical and it just seemed that when Tipperary set about reversing the six point second half deficit, Galway’s psyche changed. They were a beaten docket - their race had been run.
There are many positives to be taken from this game for Tipp, but they wouldn’t want to over shadow the few areas which need addressing either. Of course attitude was the most positive aspect and this ran right through the side. Perhaps Padraic Maher best epitomised this. When, Jonathan Glynn shot Galway’s fourth goal having caught the ball over Maher’s head for the second time, he hung his head for all of three seconds. Then, he resumed his position before being switched to centre back with James Barry taking up residency on the edge of the square. Maher hurled up a storm thereafter and really drove Tipperary forward. Where he will be stationed for the next game remains to be seen.
It was also quite noticable that when Tipp ran at the Galway defence and took them on, they benefitted most. Think of Callanan showing a clean pair of heels; Gearoid Ryan creating frees; John O’Dwyer and Noel McGrath taking ball from the second phase and dispatching them over the bar - McGrath finished with 0-5 and O’Dwyer with 0-6. Tipperary attacked Galway and eventthough the used the corner men much further out in the second half and left Callanan practically as a lone inside forward, the scores were still rolling from distance.
The breeze had an impact as well. Tipp had it in the second half and Noel McGrath in particular benefitted with a few long range efforts - his 31st minute score being particularly memorable.
To Lar. Corbett’s inclusion might have raised a few eyebrows. Would he be fit? Would he be match fit? The answer to both, in honesty, was probably no. But, Corbett’s experience, his intuition and his hurling brain made a huge difference to the dynamic of the Tipp attack in the last twenty minutes.
Curiously, he could have made way prior to this as he was just not getting onto ball and seemed off the pace. But, his two points in the 25th and 28th minutes, not to mention his influence around the field were telling. Lar’s second point was as good as you will see and from a Tipp perspective it is fantastic that he has gotten game time under his belt. Corbett needs to stay healthy if Tipp are to have an outing in Croke Park this summer.
Now that the first championship win under the O’Shea regime has been secured, it’s time to move on and start thinking about the rest of the season. Just as coaches tell juveniles that the next ball is always the most important one, the next game is always the most important one for any team. Yes, lessons can be learned from the past - Tipp learned a valuable one from the Limerick defeat - but looking forward is the name of the game now for the squad.
The summer can be a long one yet.
The train is moving again.