Tipp’s full-forward Seamus Callanan bagged three goals but each time they looked poised to get a grip on the game, Galway came back strongly with Cathal Mannion and Jason Flynn to the fore.
Tipp led by four points after five minutes but Galway outscored them to half-time, hitting 13 points to Tipp’s eight - and the winners outscored Tipp by three points in the final four minutes of the half. Galway failed to score a goal but, looking down from the stand, it looked as if it was only a matter of time before their smart-moving formation would billow the Tipp net.
They got a chance when they were correctly awarded a penalty in the eighth minute. Darren Gleeson had obviously learned from his experience against Limerick. That day he stayed in the centre and they scored. This time he cleverly moved to his right as Joe Canning lifted the ball. It wasn’t Canning’s greatest attempt but Gleeson deserves credit for making the save look easy and he denied Cathal Mannion two minutes later when he deflected a strong strike from a narrow angle for a 65.
Mannion, who gave another outstanding performance, could have cut across to improve the angle but will learn from this experience. Mannion dropped out to wing forward for the final 10 minutes of the first-half, closing up the middle third which helped their defence. Tipp were under pressure and the free, struck wide by Seamus Callanan in the final seconds of the first-half compounded their problems.
Both teams went with an orthodox 15 on 15 set-up but Tipp’s Brendan Maher isn’t an out and out centre-forward and perhaps Tipp lost a shootout as a consequence.
Manager Anthony Cunningham switched Jason Flynn to wing forward and Conor Whelan to the corner and had particular match ups at the back. Padraig Mannion was detailed to mark Tipp full forward Seamus Callanan, Johnny Coen was on John O’Dwyer while Daithi Burke stuck close to Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher.
I wrote last week when ‘Bonner’ Maher performs Tipp perform. Burke and Coen were excellent, never allowing Maher and O’Dwyer any time on the ball, reducing Tipp’s dangerous duo to bit parts. Mannion, however, was under severe pressure from as early as the first minute when Seamus Callanan goaled.
Mannion was eventually switched and John Hanbury was detailed to play at full-back. If Galway had lost, their management would have shipped deserved criticism for not moving Mannion earlier.
The Tipp full-forward ended with 3-9, with five points from frees. However, his other colleagues failed to come to terms with the Galway hunger only scoring seven points between them. The other Callanan on the pitch, Galway ‘keeper Colm, had a superb second-half. He made a crucial double save from Bonner Maher, stood up well to Bubbles Dwyer as he attempted to bat the ball past him and made a stunning deflection to edge a Lar Corbett drive out for a 65. He also deflected aCallanan penalty over the bar. This is bound to re-open the debate about the one-on-one penalties as both attempts failed.
For the second year in a row Tipp failed to convert in one-on-one contests. Callanan was injured prior to the penalty. He didn’t hit it convincingly and ‘Bubbles’ Dwyer might have been a better bet to strike it under the circumstances.
Speaking after their comprehensive win over Cork, Galway manager Anthony Cunningham said whichever team improved the most in the interval to the next game would win. He also said they would return to training the following Tuesday “getting back to their improvement programme”.
Their workrate was exceptional, up a notch even on their Cork performance. Tipp half back Kieran Bergin said in an interview after the Munster final their ambition was to outwork all opponents, but Galway outworked the Premier yesterday. Tipp like to move the ball short out of defence. Their movement wasn’t smart enough as they came back into the centre too often when the ball should have been fed to the wings. They were caught out a number of times by Johnny Glynn, Cathal Mannion and Conor Whelan resulting in three turnover points.
Turnover scores are always psychologically damaging to a defence and they further galvanised the Galway effort. Galway’s backline grew in stature as the game went on with Iarla Tannian, Daithi Burke and Johnny Coen driving them on. Noel McGrath came on with 10 minutes left. He got a great reception from both sets of supporters and fired over the lead point for Tipp.
But Galway’s overall workrate and determination saw them home.