DEEP in the bowels of Pearse Stadium, John McIntyre strolled into the corridor outside the Galway dressing-room, and, tongue-incheek,told the gathering group of journalists: "I hope this isn’t a lynch mob."
There was no disguising the magnitude of this rout for Galway yesterday, because the game slipped into a coma in the third quarter and was pronounced clinically dead soon afterwards.
The second half was a mere procession for Tipperary, who have now blown this league wide open. If Kilkenny expectedly beat Offaly in two weeks’ time, Tipp could be one of four teams still in contention for that final league place.
“We’re certainly very happy with the way our lads played, their work rate was fantastic and they took their chances very well,” said manager Declan Ryan. “Everything seemed to go our way but when the chances came, our guys took them. We haven’t been scoring too many goals so we’re delighted with the tally.”
Galway can still secure that final spot with a win against Waterford, but the nature of this defeat inevitably forced McIntyre and his players into deep introspection.
“There’s no escaping the fact Tipperary were in a different league to Galway today,” said McIntyre. “Several of the Galway players’ reputations took a hit out there and it’s primarily up to them to retrieve them.
“The only way they can do that is to go out the next day, and the next day, and produce the kind of hurling and the level of commitment that’s required of you at this level. If they themselves don’t realise and appreciate that what happened out there isn’t acceptable, then Galway hurling is not in the place we want it to be.”
Although 0-1 was all that separated the sides when they met in last year’s All- Ireland quarter-final, the key difference in that game was how Tipp won it with heads-up hurling when it mattered. Galway still have some big guns to come back into their forward line but on the evidence of yesterday, they’re still nowhere near Tipp’s level in terms of movement, fluidity and intelligent use of possession up front.
Moreover, Galway were obliterated on puck-outs in that game last July and Tipp physically dominated the aerial and breaking ball exchanges to such an extent again yesterday that they won the puck-out battle 32-19.
Tipp set the agenda from the outset, scoring from their first six shots at the target. All of their forwards had scored from play by the 23rd minute and 4-20 of their final tally came from play.
With Noel McGrath and Eoin Kelly yet to come back into the team, their options up front were further enhanced when young forward Shane Bourke fired a huge flare into the sky to alert us of his class. After being substituted at half-time against Cork last Sunday, he finished the game with an astonishing 3-4 from play.
“Some days everything goes right and today was one of those days for me,” said Bourke. “They didn’t go well for me last week but the boys were encouraging during the week. Larry (Corbett) gave me a good start and threw me out a couple of handy balls early on. A couple of easy scores and that kind of got me into the game.”
In only his second game back from injury, Corbett ended with 0-4 from play but once again showcased his class and immense playmaking ability. He was continually drifting all over the field and dictating the interchanging pattern of Tipp’s attack, which was ripping Galway apart.
Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher also ended with 0-4, but his industry was phenomenal and he always had Galway’s halfback line on the back foot.
Ahead by 1-10 to 1-8 at half-time, after playing against a strong breeze, Tipp blitzed Galway with 1-3 in the opening four minutes of the second half to effectively finish the game. The goal wassheer genius, with Corbett, Maher, Pa Bourke and John O’Brien necklacing a string of short passes together in a space of no more than 40 yards before Shane Bourke billowed the net.
Tipp continued to toy with their opponents, but that score was the most graphic illustration of how far ahead they were of Galway yesterday.
“We just have to lick our wounds and dust ourselves down,” said McIntyre. “We have put too much work into this now to allow one really bad day knock us off our targets and ambitions.
“We are still in the league and if we get a result down in Waterford, we will be in the league final. Having said that, it is going to take us a while to get over today.”
McIntyre has delayed any postmortem or inquest until Friday night, when everybody is less raw and they can reflect on the nature of the defeat. It could be a long week.
Man of the Match: Shane Bourke (Tipperary)
SCORERS – Tipperary: S Bourke 3-4, J O’Brien 1-1, P Bourke, (1f 1 ‘65’), L Corbett, P Maher 0-4, each, S Carey (1f) 0-2, B Dunne, B O’Meara, G Ryan, S McGrath 0-1 each. Galway: G Farragher 0-5 (4f), E Forde 1-2, A Smith 0-2, A Cullinan, J Coen, A Harte, D Burke, I Tannian 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY – D Gleeson 7; J Coughlan 6 , P Curran 8, M Cahill 8; D Young 7, P Maher 9, J O’Keeffe 7; G Ryan 7, S McGrath 8; B Dunne 8, P Maher 9 , P Bourke 8; S Bourke 9, J O’Brien 8, L Corbett 9. Subs: B O’Meara 8 for O’Brien (47), S Carey 8 for Dunne (54), J Woodlock for O’Keeffe (63), M Gleeson for Ryan (64), J O’Neill for Corbett (67).
GALWAY – C Callanan 6; D Joyce 6, C O’Donovan 6, G O’Halloran 6; D Barry 6, T Og Regan 6, A Cullinane 7; D Burke 8,G Farragher 7; J Cooney 6, A Smith 7, C Donnellan 6; E Ryan 6, I Tannian 6, E Forde 8. Subs: N Donoghue 6 for OHalloran (31), A Harte 6 for Cooney (37), J Lee 6 for Joyce (45), J Coen 7 for Farragher (46), D Hayes 6 for Regan (60).
REF – J Owens (Wexford).