Galway’s inability to push on after Joseph Cooney’s early second-half goal was referenced by manager Micheál Donoghue as a critical period of this All-Ireland semi-final.
Cooney profited from a mistake in the Tipperary defence to move the westerners 2-12 to 0-15 clear after 42 minutes.
But hey didn’t score again for 10 minutes, a barren period during which Tipperary levelled proceedings with three points in a row.
“When Joe got the goal at the start of the second half, I just felt, maybe, if we’d got a few more points just to push it out a bit, it might have given us a bit of time to settle,” said the losing manager.
“Look, you are still playing a quality team with quality players. They were going to have their period which they did and the two goal chances they got they stuck them well.
“I thought we responded well when Bubbles got the goal. It was a great finish but I think the boys scored next to bring it back level. John McGrath scored then, it was just harder to get back. Testament to our boys, they showed huge character and I’m really proud of the effort they put in.
“Coming into the game, the chat was it was going to be a shootout. From a manager’s perspective and I’m sure Mick was the same, you didn’t want it to turn out that way. Inevitably, it did and the game ebbed and flowed. The way it was going, we’re obviously just bitterly disappointed that we didn’t get something out of it. Just bitterly disappointed.”
Galway were robbed of the services of Adrian Tuohy and Joe Canning on the stroke of half-time. A hamstring issue sidelined Canning, while Tuohy picked up an elbow injury. Donoghue did feel their replacements stepped up to the mark, but said Canning’s is a presence you want on the field for the full 70 minutes.
“We lost two guys that were performing really well in Adrian and Joe. That was a big loss for us as a group, but in fairness to the lads that came in, they put in a huge effort.
“Someone of the calibre of Joe, of course, you are going to miss him. It would be similar to Tipp losing Seamus Callanan. He is a huge presence for us in the dressing-room and a huge player for us on the field. He started well so it was really disappointing to see him go off. There was a bit of reorganising to do, but look, as I said, the first few minutes we were still going OK. We got the goal, but just in the aftermath of it, Tipp got those couple of scores.”
Even so and even allowing for Tipperary’s two goals — their only two scores in the closing 15 minutes — Galway were but two adrift on 65 minutes. Could there have been a small bit more composure shown by his team?
“Maybe there was one or two clearances that went up and then the Tipp boys got them and it was just straight back down on top of us. But I suppose that’s just the way the game was. There’s probably periods on reflection of it near the end, maybe we should have carried a bit more, maybe we should have taken it on a bit more and gotten a score. Sure, look, there’s always ifs and buts, isn’t there?
“The prize at stake today was getting into an All-Ireland final. We came up with a mission to get into the final. I was just really, really disappointed for the lads because… everything we’ve asked of them they’ve done it and the unfortunate thing now is we just have to regroup and push on again for 2017.”
Defeat aside, Donoghue reckons there is plenty to be positive about looking down the line. “There is a great bunch of players there. Take Colm Callanan out of it and the average age is only 23. They have been around for a while, are experienced and highly motivated. Yes, we are bitterly disappointed, but we will regroup.”
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