Tipp dispatch Galway to a dark oblivion
JUST what is it about Galway hurlers and their relationship with the bizarre?
They hurled beautifully throughout the first half in Thurles yesterday only to be replaced by ghosts in the second half where their performance was the worst for a very long time, lacking shape, direction and any sense of constructive coherence.
Alarmingly, there was an absence of heart too once it became apparent that Tipperary had moved their game to a level where they would easily take the two precious league points.
Ultimately, that was the biggest indictment of a Galway team that looked as if they couldn't wait for the sound of the final whistle to rescue them from their excruciating misery.
Tipperary had so much possession and space in the second half that they must have wondered what had happened to the Galway team who were so effective up to half-time. There were several times in the second half when Tipperary players were allowed so much time on the ball that they could steady themselves before delivering their passes or get in their shots.
It was pure embarrassment for Galway, which explains perhaps why manager John McIntyre made no comment afterwards. One suspects that he will have plenty to say when Galway return to training this week as there were so many alarming dimensions to their second-half collapse that the very foundations are in danger of cracking.
Tipperary outscored Galway by 1-13 to 0-1 from the 32nd minute on and also shot 11 wides in the second half. It illustrates the extent of their dominance on a day when Seamus Callanan, a pre-match replacement for Jody Brennan, and Lar Corbett scored four points each from open play.
Eoin Kelly, Noel McGrath and John O'Brien added a further 2-6 while Timmy Hammersley, who came on in the 47th minute, marked his senior debut with two crisply struck points. He arrived at a time when Galway were still clinging to the lead but everything changed in the 51st minute when Noel McGrath bundled the ball to the net after Galway 'keeper James Skehill had fumbled a long-range delivery.
Aonghus Callanan scored Galway's only point of the second half in the 54th minute to cut the deficit to the minimum (2-9 to 0-14) but Tipperary kicked on to land a further eight points.
"Thank God, there are two halves in games," remarked a delighted Liam Sheedy afterwards. "We got no rhythm going at all in the first half and, to be honest, we were lucky to be only four points behind at half-time. We had played against a fairly strong wind but everything wasn't down to that -- we were being out-hurled too."
Galway launched some excellent points and seemed totally at ease with themselves as five of their six forwards, plus midfielders Ger Farragher and Niall Cahalan, got on the scoresheet. The defence was sturdy too, apart from one moment of indecision which allowed John O'Brien to divert Eoin Kelly's '65 to the net in the sixth minute. Corbett pointed in the ninth minute but Galway's response was to shoot six unanswered points.
They led by 0-13 to 1-4 after 32 minutes and would have been further ahead except for a great save from Brendan Cummins from Iarla Tannian. Callanan and Kelly cut two points off the deficit before the interval to leave Galway four clear (0-13 to 1-6) and well set up for the second half.
Or so it seemed. In reality, they had presented no more than an illusion and once Tipperary settled into their powerful routine, Galway's flimsy resistance was repeatedly exposed.
Cummins, Paddy Stapleton, Padraic Maher and Declan Fanning secured Tipperary's defensive bolts, Shane McGrath took charge at midfield and never relented, while Corbett and Callanan led the attacking charge with power and precision.
"We have a lot of positives to take from that second half. The lads got really stuck in and made things happen. They knew that the first-half performance wasn't good enough and they really did empty the tank once they got going in the second half," said Sheedy.
This win puts Tipperary right back in contention for a place in the league final and while Galway have also won two of three games, the worrying aspect for them is that they could produce such a shockingly inept 35 minutes after being so efficient up to half-time.
How any team -- least of all one with big-time ambitions -- could score just one point in 38 minutes of hurling on a dry, pleasant afternoon is one of those sorrowful mysteries which Galway must attempt to address. It will have to be done from a premise of humility as none of them could feel remotely happy with their second-half performance.
It was far more serious than being merely out-hurled. There was also a mental opt-out once Tipperary increased the tempo of their hurling. There were times when it looked as if they had several extra players on the pitch, thanks to their off-the-ball running and positioning.
In contrast, Galway were cumbersome and flat-footed, looking altogether like men who had undergone a heavy training session yesterday morning. Of course that wasn't the case.
The return of the Portumna contingent will strengthen Galway but clearly there's something woefully suspect about their mentality. It wasn't that Tipperary had to do anything outstanding in the second half.
Granted, they improved on their first-half efforts but could never have expected that it would be enough to dispatch Galway into such deep and dark oblivion.
Scorers -- Tipperary: E Kelly 0-5 (4f); L Corbett, S Callanan 0-4 each; N McGrath 1-1; J O'Brien 1-0; T Hammersley 0-2; S McGrath 0-1. Galway: G Farragher 0-5 (4f); C Donnellan, I Tannian, A Callanan 0-2 each; A Harte, N Cahalan, J Gantley 0-1 each.
Tipperary -- B Cummins; P Stapleton, P Maher, B Maher; D Fanning, C O'Mahony, S Maher; M Cahill, S McGrath; S Hennessy, S Callanan, N McGrath; E Kelly, J O'Brien, L Corbett.
Subs: P Curran for O'Mahony (41 mins), T Hammersley for Hennessy (47), G Ryan for O'Brien (53), P Kelly for N McGrath (63), M Webster for Corbett (71).
Galway -- J Skehill; F Moore, S Kavanagh, D Joyce; D Collins, T Og Regan, C Dervan; G Farragher, N Cahalan; A Callanan, C Donnellan, A Harte; I Tannian, J Gantley, D Burke.
Subs: K Hynes for Harte (54), D Barry for Dervan (57), E Ryan for Donnellan (65), J Lee for Collins (65).
REF -- J Sexton (Cork).