Supersub Shane Moloney the hero as Galway down Tipp
All-Ireland SHC semi-final: Galway 0-26 Tipperary 3-16
Published 17/08/2015 | 02:30
Tribesmen defiance trumps Callanan heroics
So Anthony Cunningham was right when he told Brian Cody after the Leinster final that he would meet him again on All-Ireland final day.
It wouldn't have required the predicting talents of Old Moore's Almanac to anticipate Kilkenny's presence in Croke Park in September, but it was quite a bold statement from Cunningham after Galway had done nothing to suggest that their season was about to undergo a massive transformation.
Perhaps Cunningham, who obviously knows his players better than anybody else, had spotted some movement in the undergrowth of his squad's spirit, which he reckoned could be unleashed with a powerful impact in the second coming.
Whatever the background, Galway have been a much more driven force since the Leinster final, hurling with a fury and intensity which obliterated Cork and eventually wore down Tipperary in what was by far the best game of the Championship so far.
The closing four minutes could scarcely have been any more dramatic as the power pendulum initially leaned Tipperary's way before veering towards Galway in a tie-breaking swing.
It looked as if Noel McGrath, happily back in the fold after recovering from cancer, would mark his return by nudging Tipperary into the final when he pointed in the 69th minute.
But, just as they had done all afternoon, Galway responded to the latest test of their resolve by once again quarrying deep into their physical and emotional reserves.
They were rewarded with a point by Jason Flynn from a difficult angle, which brought the sides level for the 10th time.
Flynn and Shane Moloney, both wasted chances to give Galway the lead but just when it looked as if a hurling semi-final was heading for a draw for the first time since 2003, Tipperary's pockets were picked.
Joe Canning might have backed himself and taken on the shot, but opted for a safer bet when he spotted Moloney, a 69th-minute replacement for Joseph Cooney, to his right.
The pass was good and the 22-year old Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry man angled over the winning point. It's a score he will recall for the rest of his career and indeed well beyond.
The win leaves him pursuing an unusual double, having won an All-Ireland intermediate title when Galway beat Cork in the final eight days previously.
As Galway prepare for their third All-Ireland final showdown with Kilkenny in four seasons, Tipperary face a long winter trying to figure out why they became the fourth successive Munster champions to fail the All-Ireland semi-final test.
That it happened on a day when Seamus Callanan scored 3-9 - 3-4 from open play - makes it all the more frustrating.
If Tipp had been told in advance that their full-forward would return such an impressive haul, their supporters would already have made travelling arrangements for the final.
He tormented Padraig Mannion, pressed into full-back duty on the basis of his close man-marking skills, for three-quarters of the game, pouncing for goals in the first, 40th and 53rd minutes and later earning a penalty after John Hanbury rugby-tackled him as looked set to fire in a fourth goal in the 63rd minute.
Callanan took the penalty but had to settle for a point after Colm Callanan got a touch to the ball.
If Galway had lost, the management would have faced heavy criticism for leaving Mannion on Callanan for so long and for not re-shaping the defence to crowd the area in front of the goal.
There were times when Callanan and Mannion were one-on-one in large tracts of land, with no Galway defender anywhere close to their beleaguered No 4.
It was a tough experience for Mannion, one of Galway's best performers this year, who was rattled inside 45 seconds when Callanan fetched and turned in one move, before firing to the net.
Callanan pointed a free in the fourth minute as Tipperary appeared to be settling into an impressive rhythm.
It presented Galway with an early test of their composure and, in fairness to them, the response was calm effective.
Indeed, they might have had two goals in the eighth and 10th minutes, but Joe Canning's penalty was saved by Darren Gleeson, who later deflected a rasper from Cathal Mannion out for '65' which Canning missed.
On another day, that might have unsettled Galway, but not on this occasion. Their insatiable appetite for work more than compensated for other deficiencies and while Tipperary still led by three points (1-7 to 0-7) after 26 minutes, Galway dominated the closing stages of the half to lead by 0-13 to 1-9 at the interval.
Galway added another 0-13 in the second half, which Tipperary matched with 2-7, a yield which would have been considerably higher except for the excellence of Callanan between the posts.
Galway haven't always been blessed with really top-line keepers, but Callanan looks to be the real deal.
He made a superb triple-save from 'Bonner' Maher (twice) and Shane Bourke in the 44th minute, deflected a Lar Corbett blast out for a '65' in the 61st minute and touched Callanan's penalty over the bar two minutes later.
It was defiance at its most inspiring by Callanan, but then his outfield colleagues displayed the same quality right through.
In particular, the reaction to Tipp's third goal underlined their utter determination not to come short on another big day.
With the energetic David Burke, the imposing Daithi Burke and the selfless Andy Smith hurling a lot of ball around midfield, Galway shot four unanswered points to lead by one after 59 minutes,
It was level four times from there to stoppage-time, before Moloney clinched Galway's first Championship win over Tipperary for 10 years.
Inevitably, Tipperary will have lots of regrets after losing in such a tight finish, but when they analyse the overall balance they will surely admit that they were outgunned across a wide stretch of activity.
Indeed, without Callanan's marvellous contribution, they would have been wiped out. None of his fellow attackers came anywhere near their best against gritty markers.
Galway were largely dominant around midfield while Cathal Mannion, Jason Flynn, Canning (apart from some wides) and Conor Whelan posed questions which Tipperary found very difficult to counter.
Ultimately, though, Galway's success was anchored in a unrelenting resolve to keep their manager's promise to Cody to renew acquaintances next month.
scorers - Galway: J Canning 0-10 (6fs, 1'65', 1 sl), J Flynn (1f), C Mannion 0-5 each, David Burke, C Whelan 0-2 each, A Smith, S Maloney 0-1 each. Tipperary: S Callanan 3-9 (0-3fs, 0-1 '65', 0-1 pen), J O'Dwyer 0-2 (1f), J Forde, B Maher, Patrick Maher, C Mahoney, N McGrath 0-1 each.
Galway - C Callanan; J Hanbury, P Mannion, J Coen; A Harte, I Tannian, Daithi Burke; A Smith, David Burke; C Whelan, C Donnellan, J Glynn; J Flynn, J Canning, C Mannion. Subs: J Cooney for Donnellan (53), D Collins for Smith (64), G Lally for Harte (65), S Maloney for Cooney (69), P Brehony for Hanbury (70).
Tipperary - D Gleeson; C Barrett, J Barry, C O'Brien; R Maher, Padraig Maher, K Bergin; J Woodlock, S McGrath; J Forde, B Maher, Patrick Maher; J O'Dwyer, S Callanan, N
O'Meara. Subs: S Bourke for Forde (ht), L Corbett for S McGrath (56), N McGrath for Bourke (62), C O'Mahony for Woodlock (63), M Breen for R Maher (72)
Ref - B Kelly (Westmeath)