Galway 1-12 Tipperary 0-11
There was no great air of celebration in Salthill on Saturday, and no reason for it either.
Galway finally ended their losing run in the qualifiers but relief rather than rejoicing was the reaction.
They knew they had come close to extending a dreadful run in the qualifiers which stretched back to 2004.
In the end, though, they deserved their victory on a night when two sides tried to put 17-point humiliations behind them in their respective provincial quarter-final losses to Mayo and Kerry.
Those beatings had taken a toll, perhaps more so in Galway where they suffered the drubbing in their own backyard at the expense of their biggest rivals. And manager Alan Mulholland admitted it had been a battle to get the troops back into formation.
“The last six weeks were hard for everybody… for the management, for the players, for all the support staff as well. Coming off that record defeat to Mayo wasn’t easy.
“But I would like to pay tribute to the players, in particular, and all the management team, nothing could be asked of them for the last six weeks. We trained harder in the last six weeks than we have trained all year and everybody did what they were asked to do.
“We hadn’t won a qualifier since 2004 and that kept coming back at us but at least we put that right. It is one small step but at least we are in the bowl on Monday.”
Tipperary adopted excellent tactics in the first half against the wind, getting players behind the ball and then working it forward patiently.
They should have been ahead at the break but seven wides, five of them from placed balls, emphasised the loss of the injured Barry Grogan and undermined their challenge.
Galway had nine wides in that opening period, often being forced to shoot from poor positions in a crowded defence but after the sides exchanged points five times, man of the match Sean Armstrong edged the Tribesmen 0-6 to 0-5 in front at the break.
“We put a lot of energy into the first half playing into the breeze, and in the second half our plan was to push on but in fairness to Galway, they hit hard in the third quarter,” said Tipperary manager Peter Creedon.
Mark Hehir put two points between the sides for the first time shortly after the restart and Armstrong also found the range.
Peter Acheson and Danny Cummins then swapped points before the key score of the game. Cummins, full of running, floated in a high effort from the right. The wind stopped it going over the bar but it broke kindly for Michael Farragher and the debutant from Corofin slotted low into the bottom right corner and suddenly Galway were ahead by double scores, 1-9 to 0-6.
“A goal was always going to be a major score in and we were lucky enough to get it,” said Mulholland.
Galway extended the lead to eight points before Tipp, to their credit, rallied and came with a good surge in the final quarter but the goal just would not come, although Creedon could not fault the effort from his injury-ravaged side.
“Our lads showed fantastic character and spirit, as they have all year, after the goal. But there is one thing about this Tipp team — they keep going to the end and with a bit of luck could have got over the line.
“There was only one team playing in the last quarter of an hour and that was us but the goal didn’t come and Galway hung on and I wish them the best of luck. We were well in the game at half-time, could have been ahead at that stage and we are disappointed in the second half that we didn’t push on but give credit to Galway, they got some good scores but a lucky goal as well but sometimes you need luck in the qualifiers,” said Creedon.
Scorers for Galway: S Armstrong 0-4 (1f), M Farragher 1-1, D Cummins 0-3, M Meehan 0-2 (1f), M Hehir 0-1, P Conroy 0-1.
Scorers for Tipperary: C Sweeney 0-6 (3f), B O’Brien 0-2, B Fox 0-1, H Coghlan 0-1, S O’Brien 0-1.
Subs for Galway: T Flynn for Higgins (50), S Walsh for J O’Brien (54), M Martin for Meehan (60), F O Curraoin for Farragher (61), D O’Neill for Sice (64).
Subs for Tipperary: B Mulvihill for Lynch (49), B O’Brien for Fahey (56), A Matassa for S O’Brien (60).
GALWAY: M Breathnach; C Forde, F Hanley, K Kelly; C Doherty, G O’Donnell, G Sice; P Conroy, G Higgins; J O’Brien; S Armstrong, M Farragher; M Hehir, M Meehan, D Cummins.
TIPPERARY: P Fitzgerald; A Morrissey, P Codd, J Coghlan; B Fox, D Lynch, D Leahy; H Coghlan, S O’Brien; L Egan, P Acheson, I Fahey; C Sweeney, P Quirke, G Hannigan.
Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved