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Tipperary show their character, Wexford let big chance slip and the referee's performance

5 talking points after Tipperary pipped Wexford in an enthralling All-Ireland semi-final.

1. Tipperary show their character

FOR A TEAM whose character is often questioned, Tipperary showed their mettle in spades today. They suffered three disallowed goals, lost John McGrath to a red card after 44 minutes and fell five behind shortly after that, yet in the closing stages the Premier looked like the team with the extra man. 

Padraic Maher, Alan Flynn and Ger Browne celebrate at the final whistle Padraic Maher, Alan Flynn and Ger Browne celebrate at the final whistle. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Big players stood up for Tipperary all over the field, from Cathal Barrett, Paudie and Ronan Maher in defence, with the latter pair aerially dominant on the half-back line.

Brendan Maher had his moments and won a critical free in the final minute, while man-of-the-match Noel McGrath popped over four points from play. Jason Forde scored 0-12 from 13 shots and Seamie Callanan scored 1-2 while showing immense leadership up front throughout.

Even Liam Sheedy’s bench had a major impact with Ger Browne, Mark Kehoe, Willie Connors and Jake Morris and all contributing a score each, while the latter was desperately unlucky to have a goal ruled out in stoppage-time.

Earlier in the summer, the consensus was Tipp hadn’t blooded enough youngsters but they had a decisive impact once introduced. 

Conor McDonald dejected after the game Conor McDonald comes to terms with the defeat. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

2. Wexford blow big chance

In the 50th minute, five minutes after Tipperary were reduced to 14 men, Lee Chin smashed in Wexford’s second goal to leave them five in front, 2-18 to 1-16. From that point on, they managed just one score from play as Tipp outscored the by 0-12 to 1-2 down the home straight. 

Davy Fitzgerald may regret leaving his spare man Kevin Foley so deep where he had little effect on the game in the closing stages. Wexford’s legs badly tired in the final quarter and their substitutes failed to have much of an impact on the game, certainly in comparison with Tipperary’s.

It’s been a sensational summer by Wexford but they’ll leave Croke Park tonight knowing they left a glorious chance to reach the final behind them. 

Seamus Callanan and Jake Morris celebrate at the final whistle Seamus Callanan and Jake Morris celebrate at the final whistle. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

3. Another championship goal for Callanan 

Seamus Callanan’s tally in this year’s All-Ireland SHC now stands at 7-16 after seven games. Incredibly, he’s bagged a three-pointer in seven consecutive championship games – which surely must be a record.

The Drom-Inch ace moved up to fourth in the all-time goal scoring hierarchy with 34 goals to his name in championship hurling, overtaking legendary pair DJ Carey and Christy Ring this afternoon.

Callanan is one goal behind third-placed Eddie Keher (35) and six back from Tony Doran (40). Wexford great Nicky Rackard is still well clear of the competition on 59 goals.

At 30 years old Callanan has a few years left to add further green flags, while he may still overtake Keher before the summer is out. 

John McGrath leaves the pitch after being sent off John McGrath leaves the pitch after being sent off. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

4. Questionable refereeing performance

There were several turning points in the game that hinged on big decisions from Kilkenny referee Sean Cleere. Eight mintues in, Michael Breen’s kicked goal was ruled out for Jason Forde’s push on Matthew O’Hanlon and shortly before half-time the Tipperary crowd were incensed when John McGrath’s goal was disallowed.

The play was called back 32 seconds after Lee Chin’s free had already gone over when Brian Hogan caught it above the crossbar. Tipp played on and won a free in midfield that made its way into John O’Dwyer, who showed beautiful wrist work to send McGrath through on goal.

But the play was called back after Cleere was alerted to the fact that Hawk-Eye had Chin’s free going over the bar, making it a four-point swing in Wexford’s favour. Technically, it appeared to be the right call.

Whatever about the first two decisions, Tipperary’s third goal to be disallowed in the 71st minute was extremely harsh. Jake Morris steered the ball into the net but the referee refused to play advantage and awarded the Premier a 21m free for a foul on Callanan. 

John McGrath was also somewhat fortunate to receive a second yellow for his chop on Damien Reck, when a straight red would have ruled him out for the final. 

Liam Sheedy A shot of Liam Sheedy during the game. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

5. Cody and Sheedy meet again

For the third time, Brian Cody and Sheedy will meet in an All-Ireland final. If this one is anything like their previous two meetings – in 2009 and 2010 – we’re in for quite the contest in three weeks’ time. 

It’s a familiar pairing between two of hurling’s traditional big three. Despite talk that the small ball code was heading back to the ‘Revolution Years’ of the 1990s, it’s a showdown between two counties who’ve lifted the Liam MacCarthy Cup 61 times between them to date.

Cody’s side dumped out All-Ireland champions Limerick on Jones’ Road yesterday while giving arguably their best display since 2016. Sheedy was in no mood to discuss their final opponents is his post-game press conference, but it won’t be long before his attentions turn to their old foes.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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