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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 18 December, 2018

5 talking points as Galway storm to league title and All-Ireland champs Tipp crash to defeat

Plenty to mull over after the events at the Gaelic Grounds.

Galway's Joe Canning with captain David Burke celebrate winning the Division 1 trophy Joe Canning and David Burke celebrate Galway's victory. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

1. A lopsided game that no one saw coming

The past two championship years have seen Galway and Tipperary conjure up a pair of August classics. We’ve seen two All-Ireland semi-finals decided by a single point and the fact that each county bagged a victory, created a sense that this pair were extremely well-matched entering today’s league decider.

What transpired before 16,089 spectators at the Gaelic Grounds was a surprisingly lopsided encounter. Galway running out convincing 16-point victors had not been forecast beforehand, particularly given Tipperary’s stirring recent form and their ruthless five-goal semi-final success against Wexford last Sunday.

But Galway lorded this match, a six-point interval lead could have been swelled further only for their early inaccuracy to yield 11 wides. Galway would finish with 17 shots off target yet still racked up 3-21 in a powerful display.

Niall Burke with Cathal Barrett Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

2. Galway lay down a marker in league knockout stages

After suffering relegation last April, Galway’s league target in 2017 was plain and simple – claim that coveted Division 1B promotion spot. They failed to do so after squandering a game that was within their grasp against Wexford in Salthill in February. However the knockout stages of the league have unfolded in such an impressive fashion for them over the last three weeks, that Galway must be in a buoyant mood at the close of the spring action.

They showed grit to overtake Waterford in the home straight, a clinical nature to despatch Limerick last Sunday and returned to the Gaelic Grounds venue to show their blend of class and power today. It’s not the national hurling crown that Galway fans desperately crave but this title will leave them thinking that their team is on the right path.

3. The All-Ireland champions are left reeling

Michael Ryan had no qualms afterwards in admitting this was the poorest performance he has witnessed in his reign as Tipperary manager. After carrying off the Liam MacCarthy Cup home last September, they had charged into their 2017 clashes and sparkled. Ryan didn’t hide his desire to see this group pick up a league crown and they had ticked all the necessary boxes in recent weeks.

Yet today Tipperary looked sluggish and lifeless for long stages. They were wiped out in the middle third and that resulted in their defence being submerged under Galway’s relentless waves of attacks.

Seamus Callanan was missing from the edge of the square but there was enough quality in that Tipperary forward line for them to improve on a tally of 0-14. Seeing players like John O’Dwyer and Noel McGrath called ashore before the final whistle, summed up how this was a game that Tipperary’s forwards could not influence in their usual telling fashion.

4. Galway’s array of attacking riches

In the minutes approaching throw-in today, there were a couple of significant Galway alterations announced. Conor Cooney, top scorer and leading light a week previously, was out through injury and Johnny Glynn, the Ardrahan tower who had jetted in from New York, was added to the substitutes.

Seeing Galway amass a total of 3-21 without the services of Cooney was a serious statement of intent, while being afforded the opportunity to wheel Glynn off the bench illustrated their range of options up front.

Jason Flynn and Cathal Mannion hit some rash wides but buried brilliant goals to underline their potential. Their two best attackers in front of goal though were Joe Canning, orchestrating the play from the half-forward line, and Conor Whelan, a bundle of constant energy who reeled off 0-5.

5. Questions raised for May championship showdowns

We don’t have to wait long to see either of today’s protagonists back in action again. Tipperary will be back out in four weeks time for a Munster assignment with Cork while a week later the Leinster journey will start for Galway against Dublin.

The outcome of today’s game throws up interesting questions before those battles. How will Tipperary respond from a beating like this? Can Galway maintain these high league standards for the true championship tests? Can Cork ready themselves for a potential Tipperary backlash? And how will Dublin go about trying to halt Galway’s strong march?

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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