Kevin O’Brien reports from Semple Stadium
THEY NEEDED OVER 150 minutes to do it, but Galway finally saw off the stern challenge of Clare to seal a return to the All-Ireland hurling final.
The reigning champions will face Limerick in the decider and they’ll be well primed for that encounter after coming through an enormous challenge from Clare.
It didn’t have quite as many scores as the drawn game but this contest in front of 44,246 in Thurles had every bit as much excitement.
Once again The Tribesmen raced into the seemingly unassailable lead in the first half, 1-9 to 0-3. Once again Clare fought back but ultimately they paid the price for a massive tally of 19 wides.
Sublime second-half goals from Shane O’Donnell and Peter Duggan Banner left the Banner on the verge of another epic comeback, but they fell just short.
Duggan will be ruing a stoppage-time free he missed while Tony Kelly’s ball into Aron Shanagher in the dying seconds dropped harmlessly wide when they could have worked a shot from out the field.
Clare worked like dogs and deserve enormous credit for running Galway so close, but it will be of little consolation to them. O’Donnell, in particular, stood up and demanded the ball, running at the Galway defence at every opportunity.
Whelan likewise won a number of vital frees for Galway and clipped over three points himself while Joe Canning ran their attack, putting in arguably his best display of the summer.
The pre-game changes saw Gearoid McInerney replaced by Niall Burke, with Padraic Mannion slotting into centre-back in his place and Joseph Cooney reverting to wing-back.
Clare went with the same changes that helped them claw the drawn game. David Fitzgerald came in at midfield alongside Tony Kelly, and Colm Galvin went back as a sweeper from the start which allowed Galway to use Mannion in a similar role.
Whatever warm-ups Lukasz Kirszenstein is employing with Galway, they’re certainly working. For the third game in a row, they enjoyed a lightning-fast start.
The Tribe had 0-4 on the board by the time Clare scored their first point and they had added a further five by the time the Banner troubled the scoreboard from play.
Conor Whelan and Conor Cooney were constant threats up front while Jonathan Glynn roared into the game with his 21st-minute goal. Glynn, who had been quiet up until that stage, used his size and strength brilliantly on the edge of the square before slotting past Donal Tuohy with a stylish one-handed flick.
Galway’s tactic to avoid Colm Galvin was to engage their running game. Canning started wing-forward where he was tracked by Conor Cleary. Whelan went to centre-forward but was constantly buzzing around the field, which left the middle channel open for David Burke’s incisive runs forward.
Six points, four from play, was Clare’s lot for an opening period in which they shot 11 wides. Kelly and Podge Collins were guilty of two apiece. On the edge of the square, Daithi Burke had John Conlon under lock and key.
O’Donnell’s wonder goal shortly after the break sparked Clare into life. He left Daithi Burke and John Hanbury in his wake and allowed the ball bounce before slotting it past James Skehill.
GOAL! Shane O Donnell with a fantastic goal for Clare! pic.twitter.com/elWDJXSiWV— The GAA (@officialgaa) August 5, 2018
Clare were motoring: Duggan added two frees and then buried a stunning solo goal to leave the Banner trailing by 1-13 to 2-9. At the far end Canning clipped over a couple of frees but Galway’s attack wasn’t flowing like it had in the first period.
The Banner introduced Shanagher in the 64th minute and within seconds he had reduced the gap to one, 1-15 to 2-11.
They proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot, however, with three wides in quick succession before Shanagher missed a golden goal opportunity: the substitute was put through by Shane O’Donnell and had his first effort saved by Skehill. The ball rebounded to him mid-stride, but his point-blank flick-volley came back off the frame of the open goal.
Canning then stroked over a delightful sideline cut only for John Conlon to respond almost immediately with his first of the game.
As another thriller entered stoppage time, Duggan butchered a relatively straightforward scoring opportunity from a free and Niall Burke sent Galway two clear after a great fetch from Glynn.
Duggan tagged on a free and Clare had one last chance to equalise but Kelly’s searching ball towards Shanagher trailed off wide.
Scorers for Galway: Joe Canning 0-8 (0-4f, 0-1 sideline), Conor Whelan 0-3, Niall Burke 0-2, Jonathan Glynn 1-0, David Burke 0-2, Cathal Mannion and Conor Cooney 0-1 each.
Scorers for Clare: Peter Duggan 1-6 (0-6f), Shane O’Donnell 1-1, Ian Galvin 0-2, Tony Kelly, Podge Collins, John Conlon and Aron Shanagher 0-1 each.
1. James Skehill (Cappataggle)
3. Daithi Burke (Turloughmore)
2. Adrian Tuohy (Beagh)
4. John Hanbury (Rahoon-Newcastle)
7. Aidan Harte (Gort)
5. Padraig Mannion (Ahascragh/Fohenagh)
10. Joseph Cooney (Sarsfields)
8. Johnny Coen (Loughrea)
9. David Burke (St Thomas’)
15. Cathal Mannion (Ahascragh-Fohenagh)
13. Conor Whelan (Kinvara)
11. Joe Canning (Portumna)
21. Niall Burke (Oranmore)
12. Jonathan Glynn (Ardrahan)
14. Conor Cooney (St Thomas)
17. Paul Killeen (Tynagh-Abbey/Duniry) for Burke (blood sub, 44 – 45)
18. Sean Loftus (Turloughmore) for Hanbury (56)
25. Jason Flynn (Tomas O Lorcain) for Cooney (59)
26. Davey Glennon (An Mullach) for Glynn (71)
1. Donal Tuohy (Crusheen)
2. Patrick O’Connor (Tubber)
3. David McInerney (Tulla)
4. Jack Browne (Ballyea)
8. Colm Galvin (Clonlara)
6. Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown)
7. Jamie Shanahan (Sixmilebridge)
5. Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge)
11. Tony Kelly (Ballyea)
17. David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona)
10. Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin)
13. Podge Collins (Cratloe)
12. David Reidy (Éire Óg Inis)
14. John Conlon (Clonlara)
15. Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg Inis)
23. Ian Galvin (Clonlara) for Reidy (35)
9. Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge) for Fitzgerald (43)
17. Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones) for O’Connor (58)
20. Michael O’Malley (Cill Mahille) for Shanahan (61)
26. Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones) for Collins (63)
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)
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