Thursday 14 December 2017

Swaggering Tipp have firepower to make it another final to forget for driven Tribesmen

Pádraic Maher captain of Thurles Sarsfields. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Pádraic Maher captain of Thurles Sarsfields. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
David Burke captain of St Thomas. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

If recent trends involving this pair are replicated tomorrow, referee Colm Lyons will be signalling for extra-time around 5.0, with the scoreboard showing Galway 1-22 Tipperary 2-19.

Both have enjoyed one-point wins and shared a draw in their last three games, indicating just how closely matched they are. Or least they were, but some new dynamics have entered the equation so it remains to be seen if the pattern changes.

Tipp are All-Ireland champions now and playing with the swagger that brings. That was exemplified last Sunday when Wexford tested them all the way to the three-quarter mark before being swatted aside by three goals in nine minutes.

"Goals are like manna from heaven for these guys - they really like to engineer them," said manager Michael Ryan with the contented air of a man who feels his side is on course to the next level.

Securing a first League title since 2008 would advance that process as well as taking them to a landmark as the first Tipp team to win the League as reigning All-Ireland champions since 1965.

Just as Brian Cody has always done in Kilkenny, Ryan emphasised the importance of the League at the start of the season, and while losing the final wouldn't inflict serious damage on their Championship ambitions, it's not how they want to sign off on a spring campaign which has run very much to plan so far.

Galway missed their first target when failing to win promotion but have more than compensated by putting them themselves in line to emulate Waterford and Clare over the last two years by winning the title from 1B.

Like Tipp, Galway have racked up some very high scores, albeit against weaker opposition in some cases, with last Sunday's 1-21 against Limerick especially impressive.

The full-forward line of Conor Whelan, Cathal Mannion and Conor Cooney scored 1-10 between them from open play, which will have been noted by Tipp's defensive strategists.

Their Galway counterparts had plenty to ponder too after watching Tipp's inside trio score a total of 4-6 from play against Wexford.


Seamus Callanan misses the final but John and Noel McGrath, who posted 2-2 each, will fancy their chances of locating openings close to the Galway goal.

Whereas Tipp are very much at ease with themselves psychologically, Galway need to overcome a destructive tendency to under-perform in finals.

They have lost five, drawn one and lost one of seven finals (Leinster and All-Ireland) over the past five seasons and while four of the five defeats were against Kilkenny, the fact remains that they haven't won a final since 2012 (Leinster).

They have a better record against Tipp in big games but still might find tomorrow's test just beyond them.

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