Monday 11 December 2017

Cyril Farrell: Joe's show but Galway are about the sum of their parts

Galway’s Conor Whelanis in the box seat to win Young Hurler of the Year. Photo: Sportsfile
Galway’s Conor Whelanis in the box seat to win Young Hurler of the Year. Photo: Sportsfile

Cyril Farrell

In the end there was only the lash of a hurl in it, but it opened a chasm.

For Tipp, Joe Canning's swipe from under the Cusack Stand meant the wait for back-to-back titles goes on.

For Galway, the road ahead of them opens up.

All the talk will be of Joe's score and rightly so. It was a 'cometh the hour, cometh the man' moment. For me, though, that point to win it represents the new level of maturity and confidence in this Galway side.

Not everything went Joe's way yesterday as he drifted in and out of the game. He delivered a perfect shoulder in the first-half to win, and then convert, a sideline. However, he also picked up a yellow card and missed a couple of frees that for him should be routine.

When the big moment came, though, he had the answers and the same could be said of the Galway team as a whole.

Time after time they produced big plays at the right moments.

Pádraic Mannion struggled with injury early in his career, but he has grown into a superb player. Gearoid McInerney anchored the half-back line brilliantly. The best thing I can say about him is that he played as well as his father ever did for Galway. Aidan Harte completes that line and it's the foundation upon which a lot of Galway's success is built.

Brilliant

In every line they had leaders to step up. Dáithí Burke produced some big moments as he continued his brilliant season; Johnny Coen had the presence of mind to turn and find Joe Canning for the match-winning score; Conor Whelan is a great outlet. And if some of those were to have an off day, there would be others to step into the breach. That's the strength of this Galway team.

I thought Whelan was brilliant. He is only a young fella, but he has filled out a lot in the last year or so and he's a great outlet for Galway. He seems to like the hustle and bustle and his four points from play point to an old head on young shoulders. He's in the box seat to win the Young Hurler of the Year award.

I said before the league final that I think they have the stuff to win this All-Ireland. Around Galway some people didn't want me to say it out loud, but I just felt a door had opened for them.

Of course, the result brings to and end Tipp's hopes of defending their title. They had a stop-start year, but while Michael Ryan will be disappointed with the result, he can take solace that they died with their boots on and produced the sort of performance worthy of All-Ireland champions.

When they sift through the embers of the defeat they'll see a few things that went against them. Seamus Callanan missed a couple of 65s, but seeing as Joe missed a few dead balls as well, I'm not too sure that was the winning and losing of the game.

Instead they might look at the couple of goal chances that came their way.

Callanan was denied a goal by his namesake Colm Callanan in the first-half that could have put Tipp three clear.

The Kinvara man would pull off another good save to deny Noel McGrath in the second-half. In such a tight game they were always going to be big moments. And so it proved.

And now Galway move into another All-Ireland final. Most of these lads will have been here at least once before; this will be different in that regardless of who emerges from the other semi-final, they'll go in as favourites. That's something they'll have to embrace.

If a horse goes into a handicap as top weight, well then that's because it's the best horse in the race. The same can be said for Galway. They are Walsh Cup, league and Leinster champions. The favourites tag is something to get on board with, not be afraid of.

Galway will keep a close eye on how things go next weekend, but Micheál Donoghue won't have a preference for who they get. They've gone about their business quietly and concentrated on themselves to this point and I don't expect that to change. As I said to someone during the week, if Galway can pull this off there'll be no winter this year at all.

It was also a good day for the Galway minors, who came through a battle with Kilkenny.

I was talking to their manager Jeffrey Lynskey during the week and he was happy with how they were coming along and they emerged from a great tussle with the Cats.

Bagged

Jack Canning - a nephew of Joe and Ollie - bagged a crucial goal when they were four down to bring them back into the game.

Galway grew into the game from there and in the second-half kept Kilkenny to just 1-2.

Cork will probably still be slight favourites for the All-Ireland, but that game will have brought Galway on a tonne.

Cork got the action at Croke Park underway as they secured the first U-17 All-Ireland title. They had a handful of their minor side involved and they showed why the future is bright in the Rebel county with their win.

There is also reason to be optimistic about the future of Dublin. They hung in right until the end, but being reduced to 14 men early in the second-half told eventually.

Irish Independent

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