Tuesday 26 September 2017

Comment: Galway were pathetic but Tipp fans can rightly claim to be the happiest Croke Park will see this year

Tipperary's Conor Sweeney celebrates with manager Liam Kearns and (left) Sweeney with Michael Quinlivan
Tipperary's Conor Sweeney celebrates with manager Liam Kearns and (left) Sweeney with Michael Quinlivan
Eugene McGee

Eugene McGee

It was probably the smallest crowd of team supporters ever to watch an All-Ireland quarter-final bout - at least there was live television and radio to tell GAA followers around the world about this famous victory by Tipperary and what a fantastic occasion we witnessed in Croke Park.

For a Tipperary football team to beat a famous football county like Galway by a staggering nine points - and do that at their ease - must go down as one of the greatest shock results in GAA history.

And fair play to the small loyal band of Tipperary supporters who have stuck with their team through thick and thin, mostly thin, and they were entitled to be the happiest people we will see in Croke Park this year no matter who wins the Sam Maguire cup.

Tipperary did not simply win this game easily, they gave a master class in the skills of the game, showed what raw courage really means when you are underdogs and above all showed they know how to play with panache, style and confidence - qualities that so many so-called lesser counties do not have.

The writing was on the wall for Galway as early as the 30th minute after they went 20 minutes in the first half without a score and in that period Tipperary forged ahead by 1-7 to 0-4. The winners never relented after that and had Galway by the throat for the rest of the game.

In turn, Galway were pathetic, probably starting off over-confident and by the time they realised what had gone wrong the show was over. The second half, in which Tipperary scored 2-7, was a very embarrassing day for the Galway football.

Tipperary's Michael Quinlivan and Alan Campbell celebrate after the game. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Tipperary's Michael Quinlivan and Alan Campbell celebrate after the game. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Remember now that since Tipperary were very unfortunate to lose last year's U-21 All-Ireland final against Tyrone about half that team has vanished from the scene, most notably the departure of their star man Colin O'Riordan to Australian Rules. Then several players went to the hurlers and a few more went to America for the summer. How do those players feel now, one wonders?

Manager Liam Kearns came in at a late stage and seemed to have an impossible situation - and he deserves enormous credit for what he has achieved since then.

So too must former manager John Evans, who really started the Tipperary football revolution a few years ago. But it is the quality of these players that is so exciting regardless of what happens from here on.

They play with fearlessness, with flair and with insatiable hunger to play football no matter who the opponents are.

They showed that against Ulster side Derry last week and again yesterday. Amazingly for a developing team they never seem to panic.

And they have genuine stars like Bill Maher, a defender nobody will want to be marked by, two-goal Conor Sweeney, Michael Quinlivan, a giant of a player in every sense, Josh Keane, whose name might suggest a cowboy but he is anything but, and centre half-back Robbie Kiely who went up too score a wonder point under the Hogan Stand in the 53rd minute.

But every one of these lads were brilliant and it is not often you will hear me saying that.

Nothing went right for Galway who were shell-shocked from an early stage on and off the pitch.

The first four subs were forwards even though their back line was in tatters from the first minutes of the game.

Tipperary’s Conor Sweeney kisses his girlfriend Shauna Hill after the victory. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Tipperary’s Conor Sweeney kisses his girlfriend Shauna Hill after the victory. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

They were unable to get the ball to danger man Danny Cummins, but maybe too many Galway players bought the recent hype in Connacht hook, line and sinker - and paid the inevitable price.

Apart from the three goals they did get, such was their dominance, Tipperary really should have scored three or four more - and under the leadership of the brilliant Peter Acheson they looked a team that knew exactly what they were supposed to do and stuck with the plans.

And even when losing at times to Derry last week they maintained that stance. Obviously if they come up against Tyrone in the semi-final things will be different, but one thing is for sure, these blue and gold wearers will remain fearless regardless of what happens that day.

I think 1935 was the last time Tipperary footballers appeared in an All-Ireland semi-final, all of 81 years ago and they hadn't beaten Cork in the Munster championship since 1944 until this year. Some achievements, some players, some team, some occasion in Croke Park.

Irish Independent

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