Tipp’s glory day in a game of inches
Ryan's men book clash with Kilkenny as Galway curse their bad luck after losing Canning and Tuohy to injury
Published 15/08/2016 | 02:30
All-Ireland SH semi-final Tipperary 2-19 Galway2-18
The winning margin was precisely the same as last year, this time nudging in Tipperary's direction on a day which left Galway with a deeply frustrating sense of what might have been.
Forced to play minus injured duo Joe Canning and Adrian Tuohy for the entire second-half, they will feel that without that unfortunate setback they would be preparing for another showdown with Kilkenny.
Tuohy suffered a shoulder injury, while Canning had leg problems after tumbling in a race for possession just before the break.
He had earlier taken a thumping hit from Pádraic Maher, which drove him out over the sideline as he attempted to break clear in front of the Hogan Stand.
It was evident as Canning hobbled to the dressing room that he would not be returning, leaving Galway without their most important attacking cog.
In addition to weakening the frontline, Canning's absence provided a major psychological boost for Tipperary, in much the same way as Seamus Callanan's departure would have lifted Galway, even if the No.14 wasn't nearly as effective as he was in previous games.
Callanan scored 6-5 from open play against Galway in their last two championship clashes, but was held scoreless on that front yesterday, due mainly to the gritty resistance of Dáithí Burke.
However, it didn't impact on Callanan's accuracy from frees as he pointed nine, some from very long distances, and he also converted a '65'.
Canning's exit was unquestionably an important development in the context of the overall game, but such are the breaks that either go with or against a team.
Unfortunately for Galway, they went against them yesterday, leaving Tipperary to avail of the opportunity to clinch a place in the All-Ireland final for the fifth time in eight seasons.
From a Galway perspective, the impact of the double injury blow is irrelevant now as they face up to the reality that the wait for an All-Ireland title will extend to at least 29 years.
Tipperary know how Galway feel today, having had to cope with a one-point defeat in last year's semi-final - a memory which is underpinning so much of what they do this year.
"The winners go on, the losers go home," said Eamon O'Shea after the loss to Galway last year.
The important thing for the losers is to properly process the lessons they take home, something which Tipperary obviously did well.
Michael Ryan, who stepped up from an assistant's role to replace O'Shea, had primed Tipp expertly for the Munster championship and took it a stage further yesterday.
They will have to move it on again if they are to beat Kilkenny, who will not be as accommodating in front of their own goal as Galway were just past the hour mark, when they were broken twice in two minutes.
'Bubbles' O'Dwyer, who replaced Niall O'Meara, pounced for the first and John McGrath added the second in a match-defining burst from which Galway could not manufacture a full recovery.
Tipperary trailed by two points - 2-15 to 0-19 - prior to O'Dwyer's strike and while the margin was small, it still looked as if they might need a goal to really drive them on.
McGrath's goal put them three points ahead (2-19 to 2-16) after 62 minutes and while they failed to score again, they restricted Galway to two late points by Conor Cooney (free) and Shane Maloney.
Cooney also drove a long-range free wide, while David Burke, one of Galway's better players, was short with his effort.
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And, with the seconds ticking on late in stoppage time, David Collins was unable to prevent the ball going out over the sideline as Galway strove desperately to test the Tipperary defence one last time.
Tipperary scored exactly the same total (2-19 and 3-16) as last year, but this time they restricted Galway to 2-18, two points down on 12 months earlier (0-26). Such are the tiny margins in games between this pair (they drew in the league), but on this occasion Tipperary did just enough to advance their case.
It was a mixed performance overall by Tipperary. They were very effective during some phases but had unconvincing periods, too. They certainly won't be pleased with their shooting, having hit 14 wides - eight in the second-half.
They appeared to be well into their stride when they led by 0-9 to 1-3 after 15 minutes, having responded vigorously to Conor Cooney's seventh-minute goal.
Indeed, Tipp were unlucky not to score a goal in the 10th minute, but were denied by the crossbar off Noel McGrath's rasping drive.
The balance swung very much in Galway's favour in the second quarter, during which they outscored Tipp by 0-7 to 0-2.
Much of that was down to David Burke's growing influence at midfield, where Michael Breen had been the dominant presence early on, scoring two points to add to his 3-2 haul from the Munster championship.
Galway led by 1-10 to 0-11 at half-time and restarted with Andy Smith and Cyril Donnellan in for Tuohy and Canning respectively, while Johnny Coen relocated from midfield to corner-back.
Galway were full of energy in the third quarter, surging into a three-point lead in the 43rd minute when Joseph Cooney intercepted a Brendan Maher pass before dashing forward and firing to the net.
It raised new questions for Tipperary, which they answered quite quickly, drawing level in the 50th minute. Galway held the edge over the next 10 minutes and should probably have been more than two points ahead by the time Tipp worked their first goal.
Galway drew level, only to be breached again, this time by John McGrath, for a goal that ultimately proved to be the match-winner. Thus ended Galway's post-revolt season, having fallen to Kilkenny and Tipperary, albeit in different circumstances.
They were much closer to Tippperary than Kilkenny, a formline which will, no doubt, be considered closely in the run-up to the final. Just as Kilkenny improved substantially between the draw and replay with Waterford, yesterday's game will bring Tipperary on.
It's certainly required in defence, where Galway found some surprisingly wide gaps on various occasions, without exploiting them as often as they might have.
SCORERS - Tipperary: S Callanan 0-9 (9f), J McGrath 1-1, J O'Dwyer 1-0, N McGrath, M Breen 0-3 each, B Maher, R Maher, Padraic Maher 0-1 each. Galway: C Cooney 1-6 (0-4f), J Canning 0-5 (3f, 1'65), J Cooney 1-1, C Whelan, J Flynn 0-2 each, David Burke, S Maloney 0-1 each.
Tipperary: D Gleeson; C Barrett, J Barry, M Cahill; S Kennedy, R Maher, Padraic Maher; B Maher, M Breen; D McCormack Patrick Maher, N McGrath; J McGrath, S Callanan, N O'Meara. Subs: J O'Dwyer 7 for O'Meara (45), J Forde for N McGrath (57), S Curran for Breen (68), T Hamill for Kennedy (71).
Galway: C Callanan; A Tuohy, Daithi Burke, J Hanbury; A Harte, P Mannion, G McInerney; David Burke, J Coen; C Mannion, J Cooney, J Canning; J Flynn C Whelan, C Cooney. Subs: A Smith for Tuohy (ht), C Donnellan for Canning (ht), S Maloney for Whelan (66), N Burke for C Mannion (66); D Collins for Harte (68).
Ref - B Kelly (Westmeath)