Five-star Tipp cruise to title
TIPPERARY'S under-21 hurlers made it a dream week for the Premier County when they clinched the Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland hurling title in fine style at Semple Stadium last night.
Over 21,110 people crowded into the ground as the festivities from last Sunday's senior decider continued as the county's youngsters walloped the westerners by 25 points.
Galway were not happy playing this decider in Tipp's backyard and it showed. Their supporters deserted this team in their droves, with scarcely a thousand of their fans showing up. Meanwhile, the players made a nightmare start, conceding two goals in the first two minutes. Strange to say, but it was curtains after five minutes.
To watch the Tipp attack swing into motion was a sight to behold. Seamus Hennessy fed his Kilruane clubmate Brian O'Meara time and again and the big full forward ended up with 1-2. Sean Carey, the dual star, was also in fifth gear for most of the game. Lorrha's Patrick Maher was a key target man throughout and in the corners, Mikey Heffernan and John O'Dwyer were on fire.
Sadly, though Galway kept trying, there was no contest on view with their main players like Enda Forde and Richie Cummins being substituted and Tipp never leading by less than seven points after their bumper opening.
And they will never get another start like it: in fact, they had two goals rattled in before some supporters had even taken their seats. Full forward Brian O'Meara caught a ball from the clouds after 30 seconds, turned round Paul Gordan and buried it. A minute later, he made another fine catch, fed John O'Neill who scored their second. The home side simply couldn't have asked for a better start.
Galway looked shell-shocked and were clearly rattled in front of the posts. They began the game with a blaze of wides and hit nine wides in total during the first half. In contrast, Tipp built on their early momentum and dual star Sean Carey belted home their third goal before the end of the first quarter.
It took Galway until the second quarter of the first half to get going but they never came back out in the second half. They replaced Eoin Forde and Garry Burke from their attack early on and finally started making an impact on the score sheet, with Niall Quinn, James Regan, David Burke and Johnnie Coen all finding their range.
They trailed 3-7 to 0-9 at the break but it could have been worse.
But it did get worse from thereon. Noel McGrath turned on the style in the second half and nabbed 1-3 within 15 minutes. His long-range free totally deceived Galway keeper Kris Finnegan and the sliotar dropped into the net. But his point-taking was sublime.
Senior ace Patrick Maher was rewarded for his hard work shortly before that when he won the ball on the half-forward line and danced into bury a fine goal.
Tipp led 5-15 -- 0-11 with seven minutes left and a raft of substitutions was ensued. Galway's misery was complete when Niall Quinn was sent off with a straight red for an elbow on Padraic Maher after 53 minutes.
Tipp, had 11 different scorers last night. And with such a burgeoning production line they could have many more days like this.
Scorers -- Tipperary: B O'Meara (0-1f), J O'Dwyer, N McGrath, S Carey 1-3 each, S Hennessy 0-3 (65), Patrick Maher 1-0, M Heffernan, P Murphy 0-2 each, J O'Neill, K Morris (f), B Maher (1f) 0-1 each; Galway: J Coen, D Burke (2f) 0-2 each, B Daly, J Cooney, N Quinn, G Burke, J Regan, G Kelly, B Burke, J Grealish.
Tipperary: J Logue, K O'Gorman, P Maher, M Cahill, J Barry, B Maher, C Hough, S Hennessy, N McGrath, S Carey, P Maher, P Murphy, M Heffernan, B O'Meara, J O'Dwyer. Subs: C Coughlan for K O'Gorman (43), J O'Neill for J O'Dwyer (51) A Ryan for P Murphy (51), J Gallagher for N McGrath (54), K Morris for M Heffernan (56)
Galway: C Finnegan; D Connolly, P Gordon, G O'Halloran; S Óg Linnane, D Burke, N Donoghue; J Coen, B Daly; J Regan, N Quinn, E Forde; R Cummins, G Burke, G Kelly. Subs: J Cooney for E Forde (22), B Burke for G Burke (26), J Greallish for S Og Linnane (41), D Glennon for R Cummins (44), B Flaherty for P Gordan (51)
Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath)