Galway 0-22 - Tipperary 1-18: Destiny? Galway have got into the habit of believing in themselves but they may now consider there’s something fateful about this season on the basis of edging this titanic tussle.
It might have been the third consecutive semi-final between these two great rivals that was decided by a solitary point but what a point.
An impressive long-range free by Brendan Maher in the second minute of additional time had brought the sides level for a 12th time but then Joe Canning made his spectacular intervention.
Credit must go to Daithí Burke too for the superb fetch he had made before the score but it was the man on whose shoulders Galway have long leaned that won his county a fourth All-Ireland final appearance in six years (including the 2012 replay). But unlike times past, Canning is no longer a crutch but a cog, although a big one at that.
This wasn’t his most electric game in maroon but it might just go down as one of his most effective. His first half threatened to be pockmarked by a couple of wides, a hit post and a couple of fouls, one of which was a yellow card for a foul on Pádraic Maher that seemed to have been stored from last year.
But his finish to that period was that of a man unwilling to succumb to such jabs.
Twice, he made high-risk tackles that came off before a thundering shoulder on Michael Breen in a similar position below the Hogan Stand where Maher had dunted him 12 months previous. Sideline won, he duly cut it over the bar with typical class.
It was he who also finished out the scoring for the half to bring Galway to within a point, 0-12 to 1-10, and it was he who scored Galway’s last five scores of the game.
After Tipperary had twice threatened Galway’s goal, a Canning long-ranger pushed Galway two points up in the 54th minute and restored that lead in the 57th minute when he made up for a deflected goal attempt in the form of a 65.
Jason Flynn then went close with a goal attempt, which was saved by Darren Gleeson, while Canning blazed wide, and Tipperary, through the McGrath brothers, were able to get back on level terms. Canning bisected the posts from downtown once more in the 64th minute before Seamus Callanan struck a 65 wide. John O’Dwyer then sent over a marvellous equaliser but Canning again responded with a free from distance.
A Conor Whelan hook on Michael Cahill foiled his attempt to level matters yet Brendan Maher was able to restore parity when Whelan was whistled for a foul. Alas for Tipperary, Canning conjured glory when close to the Cusack Stand sideline as he launched a shot that sent the Galway supporters, who made up most of the 68,184 audience, into raptures.
O’Dwyer had one last opportunity to force a replay but it was an audacious attempt that was sent wide of Colm Callanan’s right-hand post.
A deserving victory for Galway? Marginally. In such a close encounter, it is not so easy to say just like Tipperary’s similarly narrow win last year.
Galway had more scoring chances but then Tipperary were unfortunate not to pick up more scoreable frees.
They started the better and lead by 0-4 to 0-1 after eight minutes but found themselves one behind seven minutes later as Galway settled into proceedings.
Tipperary were testing Galway’s mettle but found them suitably prepared, Pádraic Maher’s shoulder on Gearóid McInerney noted but absorbed by the Galway centre-back.
Upfront, Conor Cooney and Whelan were causing mischief, Cooney continuing his great Leinster final into this clash and Whelan getting back to the brilliance he was exhibiting prior to that win over Wexford.
Cooney’s efforts set up Whelan for a 17th minute point to open up a two-point advantage and Whelan would return the favour with a goal chance in the second half. A Canning free put three between the teams before Pádraic Maher converted a chance from distance. And then came the Tipperary goal, John McGrath ground-stroking to the net in the 23rd minute after Adrian Tuohy was upset in attempting to lift the ball after a Callanan point attempt dropped short.
Galway’s reply was instant, Johnny Coen sending over a point, but Callanan almost had a second Tipperary goal when he availed of a Daithí Burke slip only to be denied by his namesake Colm. Whelan gave Galway another lead yet the end of the first half belonged to Tipperary as their full-back line stood tall. Callanan and Brendan Maher fired over frees and it was they who advanced and while that Canning sideline cut levelled it up again Callanan, having initially been blocked by Coen, was successful with a strike as was substitute Jason Forde.
Tipperary’s last lead was recorded in the 49th minute when Pádraic Maher arrowed over a point but their remaining scores were either catch-ups or equalisers (three of them). Noel McGrath did have a goal chance in the 52nd minute and Galway’s full-backs needed to make some desperate lunges to avert danger but Tipperary found themselves chasing, albeit by a nose.
When Brendan Maher struck his third point, the momentum did threaten to swing in his team’s favour only for Canning to say otherwise. In a rivalry never mind a match defined by minutiae, a giant of the game won it. For the fourth time, he is 70 minutes from a prize many could argue is a rightful one but he’ll know he must seize it. Just as he did yesterday.
Scorers for Galway:
J. Canning (0-11, 6 frees, 1 sideline, 1 65); C. Whelan (0-4); C. Cooney, J. Coen (0-2 each); C. Mannion, J.Cooney, P. Mannion (free) (0-1 each).
Scorers for Tipperary:
S. Callanan (0-5, 3 frees); J. McGrath (1-1); J.O’Dwyer, B. Maher (1 free) (0-3 each); Pádraic Maher, N. McGrath (0-2 each); S. Kennedy, J. Forde (0-1 each).
C. Callanan; A.Tuohy, Daithí Burke, J. Hanbury; P. Mannion, G. McInerney, A. Harte; J. Coen, David Burke (c); N. Burke, J. Canning, J. Cooney; C. Whelan, C. Cooney, C. Mannion.
Subs for Galway:
J. Flynn for N. Burke (46); J. Glynn for C. Mannion (53); S. Maloney for C. Cooney (70); G. Lally for G. McInerney (temp, 70+1-70+2).
D. Gleeson; D. Maher, J. Barry, M. Cahill; S. Kennedy, R. Maher, Pádraic Maher (c); B. Maher, D. McCormack; M. Breen, N. McGrath, Patrick Maher; J. O’Dwyer, S. Callanan, J. McGrath.
Subs for Tipperary:
S. Curran for D. McCormack (temp, 7-11); J. Forde for M. Breen (34); N. O’Meara for J. Forde (61).
B. Kelly (Westmeath).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved