Tipperary 3-13 Galway 1-10
By Brendan O'Brien
Tipperary. In a senior All-Ireland football championship semi-final.
Take a while to drink that in.
True, recent successes at minor and U21 had pointed in this direction, and many had fancied their chances all week against a still callow Galway side, but no-one expected Tipp to bridge an 81-year gap since their last appearance in the last four quite like this.
Not with nine points to spare.
Galway started impressively enough, easing out to a four points to one lead after fifteen minutes but there was already a sense that Tipperary were no more than a few degrees away from putting together a decent performance.
Errant shooting was their bugbear for the first quarter and a few minutes beyond. Ten wides in the first 21 minutes told its own story and Liam Kearns’ side began to profit from a domination of possession and territory when their shooting boots were finally located.
With Tipp using half-forward Brian Fox as a sweeper, Galway employed wing-back Gareth Bradshaw in a similar role for much of the opening period, but the Munster side had ways and means above and beyond that extra line of defence.
With Michael Quinlivan on the edge of the Galway square Tipperary had a tempting outlet and they used it wisely at times. The Clonmel Commercials forward ended the half with 1-3, all bar a point of it emanating from open play.
The goal was an opportunist’s with Quinlivan palming to the net after Galway goalkeeper Bernard power parried George Hannigan’s initial shot. It was one of half a dozen or so goal chances sprinkled through the half and they came at both ends.
Tipp had more of them but Galway converted as many in that period and it seemed to come at a key moment when Damien Comer bulldozed through the centre of the Tipperary defence before unleashing high into Evan Comerford’s net.
A six-point lead instantly halved.
A third Shane Walsh free chipped away still further at that on the restart but there was to be no dramatic change of script with two Tipperary goals from Conor Sweeney opening up a gap of ten points between the sides with over twenty minutes still to go.
That was that.
Tipp were irrepressible in attack throughout, but the ease with which they found holes in the Galway rearguard was astonishing and not something they are likely to be presented with regardless of whether it is Tyrone or Mayo they meet next.
They will wince at the long list of wayward shots on the sticks as well and realise that such profligacy will not be survivable in the semi-final, but it would be churlish to concentrate on the negatives for now. Tipp are entitled to party tonight like its 1935.
Scorers for Galway: S Walsh (0-4 frees); D Cummins (0-3); D Comer (1-0); P Varley, P Conroy and E Brannigan (all 0-1).
Scorers for Tipperary: C Sweeney (2-2); M Quinlivan (1-4, 0-1 free); K O’Halloran (0-4, 0-1 free); R Kiely, P Acheson, B Fox (all 0-1).
Galway: B Power; E Kerin, D Kyne, G Bradshaw; D Wynne, G O’Donnell, L Silke; T Flynn, P Conroy; J Heaney, E Brannigan, G Sice; D Comer, S Walsh, D Cummins.
Subs: A Varley for Sice (48); P Varley for Heaney (50); E Tierney for Brannigan (53); P Sweeney for A Varley (61); P Cooke for Walsh (63); E Hoare for Conroy (69).
Tipperary: E Comerford; C McDonald, A Campbell, C O’Shaughnessy; R Kiely, J Feehan, B Maher; P Acheson, G Hannigan; J Keane, K O’Halloran, B Fox; P Austin, M Quinlivan, C Sweeney.
Subs: A Moloney for Keane (65); S Leahy for Maher (69); M Dunne for Hannigan (73); M Hanley for Quinlivan (75).
Referee: C Lane (Cork).