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Tipperary give Cody Cats some food for thought

ONLY time will tell whether the quality was as genuine as it looked, but it sure made for a cracking top flight showdown at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday.

Brian Cody was among the 16,365 who enjoyed a marvellous contest but just how seriously he rates Tipperary and Galway as threats to Kilkenny's All-Ireland treble ambitions will remain in a file marked 'For Personal Use Only'.

Liam Sheedy's Tipperary will certainly regard themselves as the real deal after landing their 19th League title and remaining unbeaten in a season that's getting more interesting all the time.

Galway can take some positives too, although one suspects that Ger Loughnane will be more concerned with the negatives when he reassembles the squad for championship training.

Galway still have problems in defence, while the vaunted attack didn't function as a unit and were far too reliant on Damien Hayes, who looked as if he would win the game on his own from left half-forward in the first half, and Joe Canning, whose influence grew in the second half.

Midfielder, Kevin Hynes hurled solidly, while sub Alan Kerins did well too, but overall there was a lack of cohesion about Galway's game, especially in the first 25 minutes, when they dominated possession.

Defiant

Even allowing for the defiant resistance of Tipperary defenders Paul Curran, Eamonn Buckley, Conor O'Mahony and Shane Maher, Galway should have been more than a point ahead when goalkeeper, James Skehill misjudged a speculative shot from Benny Dunne and allowed it to bounce into the net in the 32nd minute.

It was the cheapest of giveaway goals and handed Tipperary a two-point which they extended to three before Fergal Healy scrambled home a Galway goal.

Lar Corbett pilfered a Tipperary point just before the break to leave them with an interval lead of 1-9 to 1-8, despite playing against the breeze.

It was a sign of things to come for Corbett, who scored a further 1-2 from play in the second half.

Seamus Butler, hurling with a fluency of a man who was very much enjoying himself, scored 0-5 from play in the second half while Willie Ryan landed 1-1.

Eoin Kelly, who hit 0-7 (0-5 from frees) in the first half, was held scoreless in the second period, but with Corbett, Butler and Ryan yielding 2-8 between them, Tipperary had more than enough firepower to wreck Galway.

John Lee, Shane Kavanagh and Fergal Moore did some spectacular things in the Galway defence, but as a unit, the reaction to the breaking ball was too slow, making the case for Ollie Canning's return for the championship all the stronger.

Ryan's 38th-minute goal for Tipperary was cancelled out by Aongus Callanan's effort four minutes later and points were swapped from there on to leave it very much in the balance on the hour mark when Tipperary were defending a one-point lead.

It was at this stage that they made a match-winning break which left them 3-16 to 2-12 ahead three minutes later.

First, Corbett bounded away from Tony Og Regan to smash in Tipp's third goal before adding a point, followed by two others from Ryan and Butler. Galway's response was brave and effective.

Canning powered through for a fine solo goal and as they sensed that a reprieve was possible they increased the pressure and cut the deficit to a point deep in stoppage time.

However, Tipperary were determined not to be caught on the line and just as he had done throughout the second half, Butler held his nerve when the opportunity arose and slotted over the day's final point to seal a deserved victory.

In the end, there was only one score between the sides but even Galway would have to admit that they were reacting to a Tipperary agenda right throughout the second half.

Unity

Tipp had a greater sense of unity all the way from the measured assurance of goalkeeper Brendan Cummins, through a hard-working defence, on to midfield where Shane McGrath turned in another fine performance and throughout an attack where Butler and Corbett were the essence of efficiency.

For Galway, it was one step forward, one step back.

They have some great individual talents but unless they master the art of conceding less when the opposition storm is in full flow, it's unrealistic to expect Canning and Hayes to build a match-winning score at the other end.

For Tipperary, it was a case of a League job well done as they added Galway to a victims list that had also included Kilkenny, Waterford and Limerick.

That's quite an impressive CV to take into the championship as Tipp look ahead to the Munster semi-final clash with Cork in June.

Scorers -- Tipperary: E Kelly 0-7 (5f), L Corbett 1-3, S Butler 0-6, W Ryan 1-1, B Dunne 1-0, S McGrath 0-1. Galway: J Canning 1-6 (0-5f), D Hayes 0-4, K Hynes 0-3, A Callanan, F Healy 1-0 each, R Murray, A Skehill (f), G Farragher ('65') 0-1 each.

Tipperary -- B Cummins; E Buckley, P Curran, C O'Brien; E Corcoran, C O'Mahony, S Maher; B Dunne, S McGrath; S Butler, R O'Dwyer, J Woodlock; E Kelly, L Corbett, W Ryan. Subs: S Callinan for O'Dwyer (55), J O'Brien for Dunne (59), A Byrne for Corcoran (64), D Hickey for Ryan (70).

Galway -- J Skehill; C Dervan, T Og Regan, F Moore; S Kavanagh, J Lee, A Cullinane; K Hynes, R Murray; G Farragher, F Healy, D Hayes; N Healy, I Tannian, J Canning. Subs: A Kerins for N Healy (31), D Forde for Farragher (ht), A Callanan for Murray (ht), K Wade for Tannian (64).

REF -- B Kelly (Westmeath)