Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park
JOE CANNING SCORED a stunning winning score from the sideline in the 74th minute to lift Galway past Tipperary and into the All-Ireland hurling final.
A rip-roaring game looked to be heading for a replay with the sides dead-locked at 0-21 to 1-18 when Johnny Coen passed to Canning who pointed from a tight angle.
For a third year in succesion, just a point separated these teams but it’s Galway who return to the All-Ireland final for the first time since 2015.
Canning bend this game to his will but it was a remarkable finish given his off-colour start to the game. He struggled to get his hand on the ball from open play, missed three goal chances and hit a couple of frees wide you’d expect him to convert.
But the Portumna man ultimately stepped up when his county needed him most and finished with 0-11, including Galway’s last five points of the game. If Micheal Donoghue’s side go on to win the All-Ireland, that game-winning point will go down in folklore.
Both teams played a very direct brand of hurling and it was a game full of goal chances. Darren Gleeson and Colm Callanan made a few exceptional saves but the Galway full-back line did well to deal with Tipperary’s aerial bombardment.
On current form Conor Whelan could well be on course to win Hurler of the Year and he chipped in with four points in another clinical display. Centre-back Geroid McInerney was excellent and he kept Patrick Bonner Maher on a tight leash through-out.
Tipperary started this game on fire, racing into an 0-4 to 0-1 lead inside the first eight minutes. If the doubts started creeping into the minds of the Galway players they didn’t show it, scoring seven of the next eight points to take control.
Whelan and Cooney started out the game with menace and had a brace apiece on the board by the 21st minute, as Galway moved into a three-point lead.
John McGrath’s goal brought Tippereary back into the game and halted Galway’s momentum. It arrived after Colm Callanan failed to deal properly with a mis-hit Callanan pass and the younger McGrath beat Daithi Burke to the rebound for an easy finish.
The Galway stopper made up for the mistake two minutes later when he made a good one-on-one save from Seamus Callanan after an almost costly Daithi Burke slip.
A delightful Canning sideline and a booming free from Brendan Maher were the pick of the first-half scores as Tipperary went in leading by the minimum 1-10 to 0-12.
The Leinster champions had four goal chances they failed to capitalise on in the 20 minutes after half-time. Conor Cooney had a shot saved by Callanan, while Canning forced one save from the stopped, saw another strike blocked for a 65 and his third chance bounced wide.
Padraic Maher’s booming effort edged the Premier in front by 1-13 to 0-15 in the 48th minute. Four points in the space of 12 minutes from Canning left Galway a point ahead as the lead changed hands once more.
Callanan miss-cued a couple of 65s but John O’Dywer landed a phenomenal effort from the sideline to bring Tipperary level once more. Canning nailed a sensational free from inside his own 65, but it was cancelled out by a similarly impressive Brendan Maher placed ball from midfield.
There was enough time for the Portumna ace to lift over the winning point at the very death.
Scorers for Galway: Joe Canning 0-11 (0-6f, 0-1 54, 0-1 sideline), Conor Whelan 0-4, Conor Cooney and Johnny Coen 0-2 each, Joseph Cooney, Padraig Mannion (0-1f), David Burke 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tipperary: Seamus Callanan 0-5 (0-3f), John McGrath 1-2, John O’Dwyer and Brendan Maher (0-2f) 0-3 each, Noel McGrath and Padraic Maher 0-2 each, Jason Forde and Seamus Kennedy 0-1 each.
1. Darren Gleeson (Portroe)
2. Donagh Maher (Burgess)
3. James Barry (Upperchurch-Drombane)
4. Michael Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields)
5. Séamus Kennedy (St Mary’s Clonmel)
6. Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields)
7. Pádraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields, captain)
8. Brendan Maher (Borris-Ileigh)
10. Dan McCormack (Borris-Ileigh)
9. Michael Breen (Ballina)
12. Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney)
11. Patrick Maher (Lorrha-Dorrha)
13. John O’Dwyer (Killenaule)
14. Séamus Callanan (Drom & Inch)
15. John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney)
17. Sean Curran (Mullinahone) for McCormack (blood sub, 7 – 11)
18. Jason Forde (Silvermines) for Breen (34)
26. Niall O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonaghs) for Forde (61)
1. Colm Callanan (Kinvara)
4. John Hanbury (Rahoon/Newcastle)
3. Daithi Burke (Turloughmore)
2. Adrian Tuohy (Beagh)
5. Padraic Mannion (Ahascragh/Fohenagh)
6. Gearoid McInerney (Oranmore/Maree)
7. Aidan Harte (Gort)
8. Johnny Coen (Loughrea)
9. David Burke (captain, St. Thomas)
14. Niall Burke (Oranmore/Maree)
11. Joe Canning (Portumna)
12. Joseph Cooney (Sarsfields)
13. Conor Whelan (Kinvara)
15. Conor Cooney (St. Thomas)
10. Cathal Mannion (Ahascragh/Fohenagh)
22. Jason Flynn (Tommy Larkin’s) for Burke (45)
26. Jonathan Glynn (Ardrahan) for Cathal Mannion (53)
24. Shane Moloney (Tynagh-Abbey/Duniry) for Conor Cooney (69)
20. Greg Lally (Gort) for McInerney (blood sub, 70 – 72)
The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!