Keeper Conor Dooley went down injured after making a save and a bout of pushing and shoving quickly escalated, with players throwing punches, wrestling on the ground and getting stuck in.
Galway’s Iarla Tannin and Andy Smith, along with Dublin’s Dooley were all yellow-carded, though they were lucky referee Alan Kelly didn’t take a dimmer view of the incident.
As an officially sanctioned GAA game, suspensions for sendings-off would likely have carried over into hurling at home, though this wasn’t confirmed and, in the end, it wasn’t an issue.
“Handbags,” explained Dublin’s Gary Maguire afterwards.
“There was a bit of a late pull and these things happen. We weren’t going to give an inch or walk away, but there was no serious injury and that was all.
“The referee handled it well, he got in straight away, went to the television match official and took his time with the decision. It wasn’t easy for him, because it’s a new game to him, but he handled it well.”
Galway’s Aidan Harte added: “If I had put the ball in the net in the first place it mightn’t have happened. I took a big swing and I’d say they’re still fixing the divot out on the pitch!
“That happens in a game and it shows how much the teams were trying to win. We tear into it in the heat of the battle and then we forget about it — we won’t be carrying that one over the winter.”
The Tribesmen came from five points behind in the final quarter to win by five and they celebrated like they’d won an All-Ireland.
A crowd in excess of 25,000 attended the game in one of America’s oldest and most iconic sporting venues.
Fenway Park holds 37,000 when hosting the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise, but the capacity was reduced to 31,000 to accommodate this game.
It was eleven-a-side and played on an American football pitch used on Saturday night for the Notre Dame- Boston College clash, which was part of a weekend-long festival of Irish-themed sport in this Irish-American city.
Galway led at the first turnaround, thanks to a three-pointer from Conor Whelan and four points from Brian Molloy.
Goals scored inside the 20-metre exclusion zone are worth three points, outside of that it’s four, and a goal scored on the volley is worth an extra point, no matter where it’s hit from.
The game is divided into four 15-minute quarters with unlimited substitutions. Yellow cards result in a two-minute cooling off spell in the sin bin and frees are taken on a tap-and-go basis.
Instead of a ‘65’, teams get a short corner and, in the second quarter, Brian Molloy converted one brilliantly on the volley to help the Tribesmen cut their half-time deficit to four points, 24-20, having at one stage trailed by seven.
Three quarters of the way through, Dublin led by 36 to 31, setting up the final 15 minutes nicely.
Galway went up through the gears, with Conor Whelan taking his personal tally to 12 points and Jason Flynn racking up 18 points for the day, making him the game’s top scorer. They led by six in the closing stages, before a Fiontan McGibb goal for the Dubs cut the gap to three and the eventual winners had goalkeeper James Skehill to thank for a brilliant stop right at the death.
C Callanan; F Moore, P Mannion, J Coen; G Lally (3pts), S Moloney (3pts); I Tannian, A Harte; J Flynn (18pts), C Whelan (12pts), A Smith.
E Burke, R Burke, C Donnellan, C Flynn, J Glynn, J Hanbury, D Higgins, P Killeen, C Mannion (3pts), G McInerney, B Molloy (11pts), J Skehill.
G Maguire; S Barrett, L Rushe J Boland; C Crummy, E Dillon (17pts); N McMorrow (5pts), C Boland; O O’Rorke, D O’Callaghan (3pts), P Ryan.
C Bennett, C Dooley, J Madden, S Lambert, J McCaffrey (3pts), A Nolan, R McBride, C McBride (3pts), C Mac Gabhan, E O’Donnell, B Quinn, F McGibb (10pts), D Sutcliffe (6pts).
A Kelly (Galway)