Saturday 23 September 2017

The Late Late Joe: No show like a Joe show as Tribesmen squeak through

Delighted Galway fans Allie Glennon, Vecky Gilchreest and Gemma Carrick at Croke Park. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Delighted Galway fans Allie Glennon, Vecky Gilchreest and Gemma Carrick at Croke Park. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

Ryan Nugent

As some hurling folk might say, "that was no dandy of a game".

The perennial bridesmaids of hurling Galway have got another crack at arriving on the right side of the altar in September.

Such was the ferociousness of the hits and tackling, referee Barry Kelly was almost launching the ball for the throw-in from the sideline as four players went toe to toe and clashed sticks.

Groans of empathy emanated from supporters after each hit - the 68,000 in attendance could feel it.

One well-known television pundit was even struggling to come to terms with the occasion as he left the ground.

"Some hits in that, Jesus Christ," was all that could be mustered.

Matchwinner Joe Canning is congratulated by mum Josephine. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Matchwinner Joe Canning is congratulated by mum Josephine. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

That sheer tension and relentlessness carried on around the Croke Park stands.

Galway wanted it, that's for sure - 29 years is a long time without Liam McCarthy travelling across the Shannon.

But champions Tipp just didn't want to let go - two male supporters epitomising what it means, laying a smacker on each other after John McGrath rattled the net 23 minutes into the first half.

The Joe Canning show left Galwegians ecstatic in the dying moments, but the possibility of it all had taken years off supporters by that stage. Hearts in mouths, fingernails scattered across Hill 16, the 30 players on the hallowed turf may have been left breathless at the death, but everyone inside Croker had been through the mill.

Phillip Coleman savours the Tribesmen’s win. Photo: Arthur Carron
Phillip Coleman savours the Tribesmen’s win. Photo: Arthur Carron

The 0-22 to 1-18 scoreline was a baptism of fire for Jeanette Fahy, who made the trip from New York with her husband Brian, who originally hails from Salthill.

"It was so much fun, I never thought I could be so excited watching one game...the last minute I was shaking," she explained.

It was Brian's first time home in four years.

"To be there, to see that in the last minute, your heart is in your mouth, you're shaking, you're trembling, you're screaming," he said.

"The voice will be gone for a week but it was just so unbelievable to be here," he added.

Disappointed Tipp fans Nicola Kearney, Teigan Stephens and Stephanie Power. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Disappointed Tipp fans Nicola Kearney, Teigan Stephens and Stephanie Power. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

Tickets are already hard to come by as we approach the final on September 3, we're told.

Galway are seeking the Holy Grail for the first time since 1988 after all.

Allie Glennon (19), from Ballinasloe, couldn't contain the excitement of what just might be this year.

"It was shocking, my heart was in my mouth, I nearly hopped off Hill 16," she said.

"The guards had to nearly get rid of us at the end.

"It'd be great to win an All-Ireland... I hope so, tickets are scarce," she added.

When it came to Tipp, they weren't too downbeat.

Most supporters left feeling like they got their money's worth. Though those planning long flights from across the world might feel a little different.

"Our friends all booked flights back from Sydney for the Tipp All-Ireland ... they'll be waiting," said Stephanie Power (23), from Clonmel. "I am devastated, I live in Sydney, I came back, haven't been to Croke Park in 10 years and it was a great game."

Aisling Sheedy (18), daughter of Tipperary legend Liam, thought her side might have got the win on another day. "I'm very disappointed, but I thought we were robbed on the day," she said. "I'm not blaming the ref totally, but I definitely think he had an impact," she added.

After the one-sided football games on Saturday, it's fair to say that hurling triumphed.

Irish Independent

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