GALWAY 2-19 TIPPERARY 2-16 A STERLING effort in the last ten minutes when they outscored Tipperary by seven points to one settled a thoroughly engaging All-Ireland minor hurling semi-final in Galway's favour in Croke Park yesterday.
Tipperary had dominated most of the half until that stage, and had done well to turn a four point deficit into a three point advantage, but they simply ran out of puff in the closing stages.
When this Galway team is in the groove they're capable of producing some fantastic attacking hurling, and forwards Niall Healy, Aongus Callanan, Derick Reilly and Niall Callanan all produced moments of real brilliance yesterday.
Healy in particular looks like one for the future. Younger brother of senior star Fergal, he's blessed with blinding pace and lethal accuracy, a fact his ten-point haul (four from play) bore testament to. His colleagues in the full-forward line are no slouches either.
Reilly is another speed merchant and scored both of Galway's goals while Aonghus Callanan is a powerful ball winner and breaker and a clinical finisher to boot.
They all needed to be on their game yesterday though.
Tipp produced a fine performance, full of character and a steely determination, and anything other than a top drawer effort from Galway wouldn't have been good enough.
The tone was set for the rest of the match when Tipp got off to a scorching start, scoring a goal after barely ten seconds.
Tricky centre-forward David Sheppard won possession from the throw-in and floated a perceptive pass over the Galway full-back line to inrushing team-mate Dara Hickey.
His shot was well saved by Galway goalkeeper Aidan Ryan, but Sheppard had continued his run and lashed the loose ball to the net.
Hickey then pointed just a minute later before Galway finally got off the mark with a Niall Callanan free.
The rest of the half was a punch, counter-punch contest.
Neither side could establish any sustained period of dominance, so when one team managed to string a few unanswered points together, the other replied immediately in kind.
The Galway full-forward line looked menacing whenever the ball made its way into them, but because Tipperary were edging the midfield battle, they weren't getting a rich supply.
Tipp were leading by 1-8 to 0-9 as the half ticked into time added on when Galway struck for their first goal.
Reilly collected the ball 40 yards from goal, outstripped the Tipperary defence and finished clinically.
Eight minutes into the second half he repeated the trick and shot Galway into a 2-11 to 1-10 lead. You got the feeling they'd kick for home from this point, but Tipperary fought back tenaciously.
Three unanswered points brought them to within one, and though Niall Healy stemmed the tide with a fine score in reply, they were finally level by the 48 minute mark when Richie Ruth lanced over a smart equaliser.
Galway looked in real trouble just a minute later when Tipp substitute David Young doubled a high dropping ball to the net, but Tipp would score just one more point before the final whistle as Galway came with that match-winning kick.
SCORERS - Galway: N Healy 0-10 (6f), D Reilly 2-0, N Callanan 0-5 ('65), A Callanan 0-4. Tipperary: D Hickey 0-5, D Young 1-1, R Ruth 0-4, D Sheppard 1-0, R McGrath 0-1, K Bergin 0-1, S Long 0-1, D Egan 0-1, S Cleary 0-1, S O'Brien 0-1.
GALWAY - A Ryan; T Linnane, G Mahon, D Kennedy; R White, J Lee, M Donnellan; C Burke, D Kelly; N Callanan, D Garvey, M Nestor; D Reilly, A Callanan, N Healy. Subs: K Wade for C Burke 39, K Hynes for M Nestor 46, C Donnellan for M Donnellan 52, D Ryan for K Wade 55.
TIPPERARY - D Egan; B O'Sullivan, S Ryan, P Stapleton; B Hanly, N Teehan, C Hayes; K Bergin, R McGrath; S Long, D Sheppard, D Morrissey; R Ruth, S O'Brien, D Hickey. Subs: D Young for D Morrissey 38, I Delaney for B O'Sullivan 40, S Cleary for N Teehan 47, P Ryan for S O'Brien 57, C O'Brien for D Hickey 57.
REF - E Morris (Dublin)