In an extraordinary Allianz NHL game, Tipperary, with three goals in the space of seven minutes at the end of the opening quarter, looked to have victory signed, sealed and delivered. However, they rested on their laurels and allowed Galway to snatch a last gasp equalising goal courtesy of David Tierney five minutes into added time.
Midfielder Rory Gantley failed to put in an appearance for Galway, opting instead to play a club game today, a move which could jeopardise his Galway future under manager, Conor Hayes.
Despite their commendable comeback against all the odds, Galway are now out of contention for a place in the final. Tipperary are still in the hunt, but they might yet rue the loss of yesterday’s precious point.
This was a game Tipperary should have won hands down. Galway were there for the taking. Obviously upset at the last minute non-appearance of Gantley, Galway looked to be in total disarray in the opening sequences watched by an attendance of 8,321.
The sides were level at two points apiece when Tipperary unleashed the full range of their power and skills. A cross from superb stylist Tomas Dunne was struck home with a vengeance by rampaging centre-forward Conor Gleeson in the 11th minute for goal number one. Lar Corbett followed with the second after a great movement in the 15th minute. Seconds later, the Galway net was billowed for the third time when Dunne hit an inch-perfect free from 40 metres.
For some reason, Tipperary took their foot off the pedal and were never the same force again. Gone was the swashbuckling style that threatened to overwhelm Galway to be replaced by a most inept performance, further tarnished by a total of 15 wides.
Galway made a much better show of things coming up to half time and a goal from full-forward Ollie Fahy in the 26th minute left them trailing 3-7 to 1-6 at the interval break.
Tipperary still looked on for a handsome win when they led 3-12 to 1-9 entering the closing quarter. Sensing, however, that their opponents were not on top of their game, Galway hit back and with midfielder Ritchie Murray unerring from long range frees and 65s, the gap between the two narrowed dramatically and there was just one point between them five minutes from the end of normal time.
Alarm bells were sounding for Tipperary and, in response, Tomas Dunne soloed through to point. Paul Kelly, standing in for Noel Morris at midfield followed with another.
Once again Tipperary, who had also the psychological boost of parading substitutes Denis Byrne and John Leahy, appeared to be home and dry. Disconcertingly, Tipperary allowed their guard to drop again and were not helped by the sending off of wing back Eamon Corcoran for an off-the-ball altercation.
Ollie Fahy, who had a fine game, broke through on the right. His powerful drive was brilliantly saved by Brendan Cummins, but Tierney was in like a flash to make it all square.
Scorers: Tipperary; T. Dunne 1-3 (1-0free), C. Gleeson 1-1, L. Corbett 1-0, E. Kelly 0-4 (0-3f), P. Kelly 0-3 (0-1f), L. Cahill 0-3, G. O’Grady 0-1. Galway: O. Fahy 1-3, R. Murray 0-8 (0-5f, 0-2 65), D. Tierney 1-1, D. Forde 0-2, C. Moran 0-2, A. Kearns, J. Conroy 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY: B. Cummins, M. Maher, P. Maher, B. Dunne, E. Corcoran, D. Kennedy, B. Horgan, T. Dunne, P. Kelly, M. O’Leary, C. Gleeson, L. Cahill, E. Kelly, G. O’Grady, L. Corbett, subs. M. Ryan for Gleeson, D. Byrne for O’Leary, E. O’Neill for Ryan, J. Leahy for O’Grady.
GALWAY: C. Callinan, D. Joyce, T. O’Regan, O. Kenny, F. Healy, D. O’Brien, D. O’Mahoney, R. Murray, J. Conroy, D. Tierney, C. Moore, A. Kearns, K. Broderick, O. Fahy, D. Forde, subs. K. Burke for Moore.
Referee P. Aherne