Tipperary 3-25 Galway 4-13
This was the performance Eamon O’Shea’s men needed and how wonderful it was to hear Semple Stadium reverberating to the sound of Premier County folk getting behind the team and giving them the lift they required to sprint past a Galway side which just seemed to die on their feet - the exertions of a third game in two weeks finally catching up with them.
The significance of the victory - a first in the championship under the O’Shea led management team - cannot be over stated, and while a win would certainly have been welcome in any guise, the fact that Tipp did it in such style as they raced to bag 2-10 against Galway’s 0-1 in the last twenty minutes, gives more credance to the thought that this side had been playing way below their potential in previous outings.
Indeed, when the chips were down, the heads didn’t drop. Instead, Tipperary dug deep and found the reserves to climb out of the deep hole - a number of positional and personel switches doing the trick thanks to the interventions of the sideline.
Credit where credit is due - the Tipp players fashioned this victory from what looked like another potential defeat. But, they upped the workrate, bought themselves a ticket back into the theatre and when the curtain came down took all the plaudits and applause with Seamus Callanan bagging a whopping personal tally of 3-7.
Make no mistake about it, Tipp’s back were to the wall in this game. The aerial bombardment from the Tribesmen had the Premier defence in chaos as full forward Jonathan Glynn snatched balls from the clouds and created chance after chance - he bagged two goals in six second half minutes with Tipp full back Padraic Maher left clutching fresh air.
However, the switch of James Barry to the number three slot, and Maher to number six, had mutual benefit with Maher storming to the finish line and Barry ensuring Glynn caught not even another sniff of goal. Tipp’s remedial action had worked and perhaps more significantly, the players had overcome a serious setback before recovering, moving on and dominating the closing proceedings in front of 18,467.
It was even steven by the time half of the game had lapsed with some fine passages of play punctuating a contest which ebbed and flowed throughout.
Tipperary had enjoyed some dominant patches - so too Galway. But, it really was nip and tuck all the way even if Galway looked to be just little bit sharper - perhaps having had two games in quick succession was helping them on this front at this stage. It was to come against them though as the game wore onwards, with leaden legs coming into play.
Seamus Callanan had the game opener in the 3rd after Gearoid Ryan had been fouled, but Galway’s physicality in attack won through almost immediately when Jonathan Glynn caught and fed Jason Flynn for a fine goal. Tipp were rocked but they responded with points although it took until the 12th minute before their lead was restored - Seamus Callanan goalling after getting inside the defence.
Joe Canning had three scores in quick succession for Galway including a sublime sideline cut in the 20th, but Tipperary’s spread of scorers was more generous with Patrick Maher, Callanan, Noel McGrath and John O’Dwyer all finding their range.
The up-shot of all this was that the sides were level in the 25th minute - Conor Cooney adding a few more for Galway. And, John O’Dwyer having restored the lead for Tipp saw Cooney again level the game before James Woodlock again swung the advantage Tipp’s way.
Galway looked dangerous in front of goal though and they were to fire another goal in the 31st minute - a long range free from Iarla Tannian going all the way to the net to give them a significant shot in the arm.
Tipp responded and lashed over three points to Galway’s one before the break - O’Dwyer and a Callanan brace balancing up Padraig Brehony’s effort.
1-12 to 2-9 then at the break - those attending were certainly getting their values worth. The game was played at a high tempo and though a lot of mistakes were being made by both sides, the fare was exciting nonetheless.
Tipp had played into the breeze in the first half and would benefit in the second. However, they needed to start gaining more at midfield and half forward; had to match Galway’s tempo; and needed to add more assuredness to the inner defensive line. Joe Canning too, would need more minding and was finding space where there shouldn’t be any.; while at the other end returning Lar Corbett was practically anonymous and needed to get into the game.
It certainly was all to play for at the break.
Within ten minutes of the re-start, Tipp’s rearguard had been breached for green flags on two further occasions. Ronan Maher had been replaced at midfield by Kieran Bergin and though Tipp scores materialised in the form of John O’Dwyer, Callanan and Noel McGrath efforts, it was Galway who controlled the game at this juncture.
Conor Cooney had the opening score of the half and when Glynn caught and buried a 4th minute chance and repeated the action in the 10th, Tipp looked to be staring down the barrel of a gun. Cathal Mannion and Davy Glennon both pointed as well to leave Tipp six down and looking in real trouble.
The switches shored up the defence and Bergin began to hurl up at midfield too. Despite a few bad wides and a Seamus Callanan goal chance which went abegging in the 16th, Tipp were still working hard. And, the crucial element, which was not to be their lot against Limerick in the Munster semi-final - they had time on their hands to sort out the problems, make the switches and work their way back into the game.
John O’Dwyer, bagged his fifth of the day from play, in the 17th minute - it was Tipp’s first score for 11 minutes, but it set the ball rolling again. Callanan snatched a fine goal a minute later after his initial shot was saved by his namesake in the Galway net and points from Callanan and Noel McGrath had the sides level again.
Tipp had come from six down to being level in six minutes and the momentum was with them. You could see the life draining from the legs of the Galway lads and crucially, this time, when Tipp had the foot on the throat they continued to apply the pressure to suffocate the Tribesmen challenge.
Tipp upped the ante again, hunted down the maroon and white jerseys, and credit where it is due, the forwards - much criticised for their lack of workrate and preventative tackling - came good.
Lar Corbett had been playing a bit part, but he took centre stage big time as he shoved Tipp in front in the 25th and then extended the lead with a sublime point in the 28th. Callanan, McGrath and Bergin hammered over three more as Tipp’s shooting turned to gold and when the Drom-Inch man blasted a 35th minute third goal, Semple Stadium erupted. It wasn’t so much the fact that the goal put the final nail in Galway’s coffin which was significant, it was the work of the forward division in the lead up to which really struck a note - Tipp harried and hastled the Galway backs, won the turnover and finished with clinical precision.
With John O’Dwyer and Shane McGrath efforts to round off a fine victory, Tipp had notched 2-10 to Galway’s 0-1 in the closing 20 minutes - Joe Canning, who was anonymous in the second half, getting Galway’s score in the 26th minute.
So, Tipp progress to the next round with a far more positive vibe than heretofore. While this was a badly needed win and a superb lift to all and sundry, one swallow doesn’t make a summer as they say. Tipp still have issues which need ironing out and question marks persist about some quarters. But, the ship is moving again and one would hope that the momentum garnered by such a win would sustain the players and management long into the campaign.
It was so welcoming to see Seamus Callanan returning to the kind of form which made his the Allianz National Hurling Leagues most lethal attacker. He took his goals brilliantly and when he opened the legs and took on the Galway defence, Tipperary benefitted.
John O’Dwyer bagged 0-6 from play, while Noel McGrath’s return was 0-5. In all, Tipperary had 3-18 from play - a wonderful return by any measure. The game will have benefitted Lar Corbett who proved that he still has something to offer Tipperary while Patrick Maher had much assistance in attack in the workrate stakes.
The game had by-passed midfield in the first half and it was curious to see Ronan Maher and his direct opponent Padraic Brehony both replaced at the interval - Maher perhaps being unlucky to make way. James Woodlock got onto more ball in the second half while Kieran Bergin played a big role in the recovery.
Michael Cahill had another outstanding outing for Tipp in defence while Padraic Maher and James Barry’s switches made all the difference. Brendan Maher and Cathal Barrett were not as prominent as usual, while Paddy Stapleton adjusted to the pace of proceedings as the game wore onwards. Keeper Darren Gleeson could do nothing about any of the goals but handled well and confidently.
Whatever about Tipp’s recovery, Galway’s collapse will be the talk of Tribesfolk for some time. They were in a position to push for home but just could not do so. Definitely, the toll of three games in two weeks told on the bodies. Is it wrong that their championship campaign should all be squeezed into a fortnights hurling?
They needed Joe Canning in the last quarter and they didn’t have him. Tipp had managed to shackle the Portumna man and Galway’s portal to scores was shut down. Canning had a productive first half while others to impress for Galway were Jonathan Glynn, Conor Cooney, Johnny Coen, Iarla Tannian and Cathal Mannion.
So, Tipp move on now and hopefully the controversy of recent times will have dissipated. The players certainly won over their supporters with their display and the hope is that there is much more in the tank now. Tipp have had to dig deep to get over the setbacks - the refreshing news is that the well is deep. Is it deep enough? Only time will tell.
Teams and Scorers:
Tipperary: D Gleeson, P Stapleton, P Maher, M Cahill, C Barrett, J Barry, B Maher, R Maher, J Woodlock 0-1, G Ryan, P Maher 0-1, J O’Dwyer 0-6, N McGrath 0-5, S Callanan 3-7, L Corbett 0-2. Subs: K Bergin 0-1 for R Maher; S McGrath for G Ryan; J O’Brien for Corbett.
Galway: C Callanan, F Moore, R Burke, D Collins, J Coen, Daithi Burke, I Tannian 1-0, A Smith, P Brehony 0-1, David Burke, J Canning 0-5, C Cooney 0-4, C Mannion 0-2, J Glynn 2-0, J Flynn 1-0. Subs: D Glennon 0-1 for David Burke; J Cooney for R Brehony; A Harte for A Smith; N Burke for J Cooney; D Hayes for Mannion.
Referee: C Lyons (Cork)