In 1996 Tipperary minor hurling manager William Maher captained the Premier to All-Ireland minor glory.
Now, he’s 60 minutes away from another success, this time with the ‘Bainisteoir’ bib on his torso.
And in the final on September 9 he’ll face his good friend, Dublin boss Shay Boland, on the touchline. In 2007, Maher was part of the Dublin backroom team with Boland as manager.
Yesterday’s game turned decisively in Tipp’s favour when Galway full-back Paul Killeen was controversially dismissed midway through the second half. A tangle with Tipperary sub Seán Maher on the 20 metre line at the Canal End looked innocuous, but referee Tony Carroll deemed it a yellow card offence and as the Tribesmen’s captain had been booked in first half injury-time, a second yellow led to the inevitable red.
Tipp were three points clear at the time, 2-11 to 1-11, and would go on to lead by six before Aidan Higgins hit a consolation score in the final minute for Galway.
Following Killeen’s red card, Tipperary used Ronan Maher (brother of Tipp senior Pádraic) as the spare man in defence and coped comfortably.
Munster champions Tipp kept the scoreboard ticking over nicely and John McGrath, younger brother of county senior star Noel, would finish with 0-7, including five points from placed balls.
Galway began with three of the starting 15 from last year’s All-Ireland final against Dublin, Killeen being one of them, and gave as good as they got before Mark McCarthy’s 37th minute goal turned the tide in Tipp’s favour.
And it was Galway, comprehensive quarter-final winners against Wexford, who got off to a brilliant start with 1-1 in the first three minutes.
Brian Molloy opened the scoring with a first minute point before the corner forward fed Jason Flynn, a 2011 All-Ireland medallist, for the game’s opening goal.
But Tipp responded with an unanswered 1-3, with Stephen Cahill claiming the eighth minute goal from Barry Heffernan’s speculative delivery. There was little to choose between the sides in the opening half, however, and they were deadlocked twice at 1-5 and 1-6 apiece before a McGrath free edged Tipp ahead by a point at half-time.
The early exchanges of the second half were reminiscent of the first, nip and tuck with the sides level twice more – at 1-7 and 1-8 each. Then, daylight for Tipp as McGrath put them 1-9 to 1-8 clear with a 36th minute free before McCarthy struck for the game-changing goal.
Jack Shelly, so industrious at centre-forward for Tipp, flashed over a point to put Tipp 2-10 to 1-8 in front and Galway were in trouble.
But the heads didn’t drop and a run of three unanswered points had them back to within two before wing-back Tom Fox, called into the starting line-up in place of injured Dylan Fitzelle, boomed over a crucial score for Tipp with 18 minutes left.
Disaster then struck for Galway as Killeen was harshly given his marching orders. McGrath stood over what should have been an elementary free on the 20m line but after his effort was blocked, sub Seán Maher, who would have a real impact in the closing stages, picked up the pieces for a Tipp point.
Pushing and shoving on the touchline, involving the rival managers followed as tensions threatened to boil over but Tipp were now very much in the ascendancy.
And Galway boss Mattie Murphy, who had won masterminded six All-Ireland minor successes from 11 previous attempts, knew the game was up.
Scorers for Galway: J Flynn 1-1, D Dolan 0-4, B Molloy 0-4 (2f), R O’Meara 0-3, C Mannion & A Higgins 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tipperary: J McGrath 0-7 (3f, 2 65s), S Cahill 1-2, M McCarthy 1-1, J Shelly & S Maher 0-2 each, T Fox & B Heffernan 0-1 each.
Galway subs: A Morrissey for Murtagh (h-t), P English for Collins (39), O Treacy for Mullins (48), S Linnane for Morrissey (56), A Higgins for Molloy (59).
Tipperary subs: S Ryan for Slattery (h-t), S Maher for O’Brien (43), C Lanigan for Shelly (60).
Referee: T Carroll (Offaly).
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