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U21 seal the deal for premier class

TIPPERARY'S ninth All-Ireland U21 success was most emphatic as the Premier County crowned a glorious six days with a 25-point mauling of Galway at Semple Stadium last Saturday evening.

The winning margin was the biggest final victory in the history of the competition as Galway left for home smarting with not only the margin of defeat, but also with the choice of venue.

The pre-match headlines were dominated with talk of Semple Stadium hosting the showpiece decider, in Tipperary's back yard, and the feelgood factor from the senior victory six days before was certainly central to this win.

On the previous Sunday, Tipperary secured a first senior All-Ireland success since 2001 before the U21s bridged a 15-year gap by running riot against Galway.

In the process, Tipperary brought home a senior/U21 All-Ireland double for the first time since 1989 and on the evidence of the last two weekends, they won't be far away from the major honours for the foreseeable future.

Six players who featured in the senior win started for Tipperary's U21s and the result was never in doubt from the moment man of the match Brian O'Meara netted the first of five Premier County goals with just 29 seconds on the watch.

Deflated Galway boss Anthony Cunningham reflected: "I think it (venue) probably had a bit of a bearing in the last 20 minutes. It wasn't a level playing field and everybody knows that. It's not nice to put young players into this environment but having said that, I wouldn't take away from Tipperary - they were fantastic."

In terms of hurling ability, Galway were blown away but they were light years behind their opponents too in terms of conditioning and sheer physicality. Cunningham agreed: "They (Galway) definitely need to be doing a lot of gym work and programme work."

Tipperary, playing their fourth game of the competition, were streets ahead of Galway, who were lining out for just the second time in championship fare this year.

Cunningham said: "Yeah and that's difficult. That's something Galway probably have to look at too in reality. Maybe the U-21 Championship could go to a round-robin like the Champions League because they're fantastic games but Galway are feeling the pinch.

"The Tipperary players are used to playing here, they're used to playing in top class matches and we'll have to look at that plus the amount of training that these guys do. We had only two on the senior panel this year, that has to change. It's a young man's game now."

Tipperary boss Ken Hogan admitted that home advantage was a huge bonus for his team as 21,110 turned out in a festive atmosphere.

The two-time All-Ireland senior medallist said: "The momentum was there. When I saw the momentum coming about was when Tipp beat Galway in the All-Ireland (senior) quarter-final in Croke Park. We had just more than a 48-hour turnaround to get ready for Clare in the Munster final, and that's one hell of a Clare team. The momentum really brought them through -- the momentum they got from playing in front of their home crowd."

At half-time, Tipperary led by 3-7 to 0-9, a seven-point advantage but at one stage, the lead was twelve. Galway conceded two goals inside the opening three minutes and struggled to compete all over the field as Tipp lorded the aerial exchanges.

Two more goals followed in the second half and Galway's misery was complete six minutes from time when Niall Quinn was dismissed after catching Tipp captain Pádraic Maher with a high tackle.