Would it be the start of an unforgettable day for Galway hurling? We had minute-by-minute updates of the Croke Park curtain-raiser.
Good afternoon and welcome to what promises to be one of the biggest sporting afternoons of the year.
It’s All-Ireland hurling final Sunday — and it’s set to be a doozy.
First up is the minor decider between Galway and Tipperary. Throw-in is at 1.15pm, and you can bet that the fans from out west will be taking their seats nice and early in Croke Park.
It could be the start of a very special day for Galway hurling.
It has been 27 long years since their last senior title but the minor grade has been a lot more fruitful for them of late with three final appearances in the last six years, and two wins.
Fans have been streaming down Jones’s Road from very early on this morning.
TEAM NEWS: Tipp show one change from their semi-final win over Dublin — and it’s a big one. Captain Stephen Quirke returns in midfield after recovering from a knee injury.
1. Pádraic Hayes (Ballingarry)
2. Enda Heffernan (Clonoulty Rossmore)
3. Emmet Moloney (Drom & Inch)
4. James Quigley (Kildangan)
5. Kevin Hassett (Drom & Inch)
6. Brian McGrath (Loughmore Castleiney)
7. Darragh Peters (Kilruane MacDonaghs)
8. Stephen Quirke (capt, Moyle Rovers)
9. Liam McCutcheon (Templederry Kenyons)
10. Cian Darcy (Kilruane MacDonaghs)
11. Garry Ryan (Borrisokane)
12. Alan Tynan (Roscrea)
13. Tommy Nolan (Drom & Inch)
14. David Gleeson (Ballinahinch)
15. Lyndon Fairbrother (JK Brackens)
TEAM NEWS: One change as well for the Galway team that prevailed in that epic semi-final replay against Kilkenny. Cianan Fahey starts at corner-forward in place of Michael Lynch.
1. Darragh Gilligan (Craughwell)
2. Kieran O’Connor (Kilnadeema-Leitrim)
3. Jack Fitzpatrick (Killimordaly)
4. Shane Bannon (Clarinbridge)
5. Caelom Mulry (Abbeyknockmoy)
6. Ian O’Brien (Clarinbridge)
7. Andrew Greaney (Craughwell)
8. Jack Coyne (Castlegar)
9. Jack Grealish (Gort)
10. Brian Concannon (Killimordaly)
11. Thomas Monaghan (Craughwell)
12. Fintan Burke (St Thomas)
13. Cianan Fahy (Ardrahan)
14. Evan Niland (Clarinbridge)
15. Sean Loftus (Turloughmore)
While you’re waiting for throw-in, here’s Tipp captain Stephen Quirke on his battle back from that knee injury and the fear that he might not make it today:
“It could have been the anterior cruciate, I probably wouldn’t be here now, only getting back from an operation and only probably starting my rehabilitation now,” Quirke says.
“That would be strange stuff because after a week or two I was back doing weights and stuff but with anterior it’s a much longer process and you’re doing stuff that you don’t like doing, like just jogging and light cycling work.
Nearly ready to go here in the curtain-raiser. Who do you fancy?
THROW IN: We’re up and running with Galway attacking the Hill 16 end.
1 mins – Evan Niland fouled and Galway will have a chance to open the scoring.
2 mins – Galway 0-1 Tipperary 0-0: Niland knocks it over. First blood to Galway.
3 mins – Alan Tynan tries to level it up for Tipp with a long-range effort and we’ll need HawkEye to rule on it. It’s a wide.
4 mins — Galway 0-2 Tipperary 0-0: Evan Niland lines up a free just outside the 65 and makes no mistake. Two from two early on for the young Galway full-forward.
6 mins — Galway 0-2 Tipperary 0-1: Tipp are on the board. It looked as though there might be the sniff of a goal chance for Cian Darcy but he went away from goal. Good work to recycle possession and Lyndon Fairbrother points.
7 mins — Galway 0-2 Tipperary 0-2: All square as Tommy Nolan points.
8 mins — Galway 0-3 Tipperary 0-2: Jack Coyne belts an effort high into the sky towards the Hill 16 end and again, we’ll need HawkEye to rule. This one’s a point and Galway are back in front.
9 mins – Jack Grealish (no, not that one) takes down Cian Darcy and Lyndon Fairbrother will have a chance to knock this over and level it up again.
10 mins — Galway 0-3 Tipperary 0-3: No mistake by Fairbrother, splitting the posts.
10 mins – Jack Coyne is under a lot of pressure, and a little bit off balance, as he tries to shoot. His shot is wide, Galway’s first of the afternoon.
11 mins – Fairbrother has a chance with another free, about 62 or 63m out, but he doesn’t catch it cleanly and it’s wide.
13 mins — GREAT SAVE! David Gleeson handpasses the ball to Garry Ryan but at full stretch, Galway keeper Darragh Gilligan dives to divert it behind for a 65. Great stop.
14 mins — Tipperary 0-4 Galway 0-3: Brian McGrath points the 65.
15 mins — Tipperary 0-4 Galway 0-4: The umpires are taking absolutely no chances with any of their calls. The men in white coats at the Hill 16 end refer Jack Grealish’s effort to the technology again before the point is awarded.
16 mins — Tipperary 0-5 Galway 0-4: Alan Tynan’s effort is saved by Darragh Gilligan but instead of the 65, play is brought back for a Tipp free and Galway corner-forward Sean Loftus is booked.
Fairbrother points the free and Tipp edge back in front.
GOAL FOR GALWAY! Galway 1-4 Tipperary 0-5 (Concannon, 18′) Goal for Galway but Tipp will be furious at the mistakes that led to it.
Jack Coyne’s long ball is batted down on the edge of the square by James Quigley but it’s straight to wing-forward Brian Concannon and he makes sure with the finish.
19 mins — Galway 1-4 Tipperary 0-6: Alan Tynan hits back immediately for Tipp.
20 mins — Galway 1-4 Tipperary 0-7: Sniff of a goal chance for Tommy Nolan as he drives inside but his shot is always rising and it’s over the bar for a point.
23 mins — Galway 1-5 Tipperary 0-7: There’s an almighty scramble in front of the Tipp goal and when the ball squirts free, Evan Niland is first to gather and points.
24 mins – Galway full-back Ian O’Brien has a bit of a swipe across the body of Tommy Nolan and he’s shown a yellow card.
25 mins — Galway 1-5 Tipperary 0-8: Fairbrother knocks it over and it’s a draw game again.
26 mins — Tipperary 0-9 Galway 1-5: Brian McGrath stands over a free just inside his own half. Will it have the legs? It will! Fine score.
26 mins — Galway 1-6 Tipperary 0-9: A couple of moments after the Galway full-back was booked, his opposite number Brian McGrath follows him into the book. Evan Niland points the free to equalise.
29 mins – Thomas Monaghan edges Galway into the lead. Enda Heffernan tried to nick it off his hurl but he’s a split-second too late and Monaghan points.
30 mins — Galway 1-7 Tipperary 0-10: Cian Darcy draw another save from Gilligan but play is brought back again — much to the disgust of the Galway crowd — and Caelom Mulry is booked for striking across Darcy with his hurl.
Fairbrother ties the game up with an easy free.
HALF TIME: Galway 1-7 Tipperary 0-10
All square at the break and while it hasn’t been a classic by any stretch, this one is on a knife edge.
Back in five.
SECOND HALF: We’re back underway.
32 mins – Garry Ryan catches Jack Coyne and the Tipp man picks up a yellow. Coyne looks to be in a bit of pain there.
33 mins — Galway 1-8 Tipperary 0-10: Thomas Monaghan tries to get away from Enda Heffernan but he’s fouled. Evan Niland points the free to restore Galway’s slender lead.
34 mins – Lyndon Fairbrother has a chance to equalise with a free from about 55m but it drops short and Galway clear.
35 mins — Galway 1-8 Tipperary 0-11: Tipp skipper Stephen Quirke gets in behind the Galway defence but just as he’s about to pull the trigger, Caelom Mulry gets in with a timley block.
Quirke regains possession and points. All square again.
37 mins — Galway 1-9 Tipperary 0-11: Evan Niland points his fifth free, his sixth point. Brilliant accuracy from the Clarinbridge man so far.
Galway sub: Liam Forde is on for Fintan Burke.
GOAL FOR GALWAY! Galway 2-9 Tipperary 0-11 (Forde, 37′) What an impact by the sub Liam Forde — he’s barely on the pitch a minute and he has Galway’s second goal!
Great running by Brian Concannon and a great pass to pick out Forde who finished superbly.
40 mins — Galway 2-10 Tipperary 0-11: Niland points another free and Galway lead by five. This is slipping away from Tipp.
GOAL FOR GALWAY! Galway 3-10 Tipperary 0-11 (Fahy, 40′)
Another Galway goal and they’re within touching distance of another minor crown. Jack Grealish plays the penultimate pass and Cianan Fahy drills a low, powerful shot that gives Pádraic Hayes no chance and has the umpires reaching for green for a third time.
43 mins — Galway 3-10 Tipperary 0-12: Stephen Quirke cuts a sideline off the left upright and it drops over the bar. Seven in it and if Tipp are to have any chance, they need to rally now.
44 mins – Brian McGrath has a chance to cut the gap again with another long free but it drops short and Sean Loftus is able to rise uncontested to claim possession.
45 mins — Tipp sub: Michael Connors is on for Lyndon Fairbrother.
47 mins — Galway 3-11 Tipperary 0-13: Evan Niland and Cian Darcy swap frees. Still seven in it.
50 mins — Galway 3-12 Tipperary 0-13: Sean Loftus, wearing 15 but playing very deep in his own half, surges forward and points for Galway.
51 mins – Alan Tynan has a chance to cancel it out for Tipp but his shot tails off the right and wide.
53 mins — Galway 3-12 Tipperary 0-14: Cian Darcy points to keep the Tipp score ticking over but at this point, it’s goals they need.
56 mins — Tipp sub: Shane Neville is on for David Gleeson
57 mins — Galway 3-13 Tipperary 0-14: Great take by Evan Niland and he wins his own free. It gives Galway a chance to run down the clock a bit and eventually, Niland points.
58 mins – Less than three to play… the Galway fans can start to celebrate.
GOAL FOR TIPPERARY! Galway 3-13 Tipperary 1-14 (Nolan, 60′) They couldn’t, could they?! Tommy Nolan drills a ground stroke from the edge of the square and it somehow eludes Darragh Gilligan and finds its way to the net.
59 mins – Tipp keep pumping long balls down into the half-forward line but Caelom Mulry is there not once, but twice, to gather and clear.
60+1 mins – Four additional minutes and Tipp are swarming forward…
GOAL FOR GALWAY! Galway 4-13 Tipperary 1-14 (Lynch, 60+2′) That’s that! Galway will be the All-Ireland minor hurling champions for 2015.
It was always a danger as Tipp committed men forwards and Michael Lynch gets in behind, races clean through on goal, and keeps his shot low and out of the reach of Pádraic Hayes.
60+4 mins – Into the final additional minute here…
60+4 mins — Galway 4-13 Tipperary 1-15: Tipp sub Mikey Connors knocks over a consolation score.
60+4 mins – Tipp will have a late 65 but time is all but up.
60+5 mins — Galway 4-13 Tipperary 1-16: Darragh Peters points the 65 and that will be that.
FULL TIME: Galway 4-13 Tipperary 1-16
Galway are the 2015 All-Ireland minor hurling champions!
The celebrations erupt in Croke Park as Galway are crowned minor champions again.
Evan Niland is named Man of the Match for a nerveless display.
The kids have done their job. Now, can the seniors follow suit?
That’s it from the minors — but be sure to join my colleague Eoin O’Callaghan here for live coverage of the senior decider. That throws in in just over 45 minutes and it promises to be an absolute belter.
Thanks for reading.