All Ireland Hurling Final
Galway 0-26 2-17 Waterford
Galway are bringing Liam MacCarthy back to the west for the first time since 1988 after an entertaining, and deserved, 0-26 to 2-17 win over Waterford in Croke Park.
Leading 0-14 to 2-07 at half-time after starting superbly, the sides were level over 10 times but Galway’s substitutes came on to seal the win and they are All-Ireland senior hurling champions for the fifth time.
For Waterford, the wait for a third senior title goes on for another year as they try to bridge the gap between their last win in 1959.
Experience told on Sunday as 18 of the current Galway panel today were part of the 2015 final, with 12 of them starting the game, Conor Cooney and Shane Moloney coming on as subs and James Skehill, Gearoid McInerney and Joseph Cooney unused subs.
For Waterford, they had only Brick Walsh and Kevin Moran with any experience of All-Ireland final day, having lost to Kilkenny in 2008.
Even though Waterford had 58% possession in the first half, they started sluggishly and were 0-04 points down after only four minutes as Galway burst out of the blocks with points from Joe Canning, Johnny Coen, Joe Cooney and Cathal Mannion.
However, in the fifth minute, Waterford had their supporters on their feet when Kevin Moran collected a ball and fired it past Callanan’s near post to get the Deise on the scoreboard.
The Déise struggled to combat the movement of the Galway half-back and midfield lines and the Tribesmen were 0-09 to 1-02 up after only 14 minutes and it wasn’t looking good for Derek McGrath’s Waterford side.
They did show some steel though and rallied to level the game in the 22nd minute when Kieran Bennett launched a long ball into the Galway danger area. Shane Bennett, his brother, attempted a swing at it but missed it. It was enough to distract Colm Callanan in the Galway goals and the ball bounced by him and into the net.
That made it 0-10 to 2-04. Canning and Pauric Mahony exchanged placed balls before Conor Whelan and Joe Cooney put Galway two points up.
Jamie Barron and Kevin Moran were starting to get on top in the middle of the park and Barron hit over two great scores to level the game 0-13 to 2-07 in first half injury time.
Waterford were giving away a lot of frees though and just before the half-time whistle, Canning hit over another free to put the Leinster champions a point up at the break.
At the start of the second half, Galway had to depend on Callanan to come out and block a shot before the defenders cleared their lines.
By the 45th minute, it was turning into a placed ball shoot-out between Joe Canning and Pauric Mahony with the scores level for the sixth time, 0-16 to 2-10.
Mahony then got one from play after a lovely catch and pass by substitute Maurice Shanahan to put Waterford in the lead but Galway substitute Niall Burke levelled within a minute.
Galway hit five unanswered points during this stage to put them 0-21 to 2-12 up. Waterford sub Brian O’Halloran and Mahony split the uprights but with ten minutes to go, Galway were a point up.
With seven minutes left, Conor Cooney and sub Jason Flynn hit over scores within a minute of each other to put Galway four points up.
As the game entered four minutes of injury time, Waterford had the gap back to three points, 0-26 to 2-17, but with a shot on goals blocked and then cleared in the third minute of injury time, that was as close as they could get and Galway claimed a deserved victory.
Galway: Colm Callanan, Daithi Burke, Aidrian Tuohy, John Hanbury; Pádraic Mannion, Gearóid McInerney, Adian Harte, Johnny Coen (0-02), David Burke (0-04), Joseph Cooney (0-02), Cathal Mannion (0-02), Joe Canning (0-10, 0-06f, 0-01 sideline) Conor Whelan (0-01), Jonathan Glynn, Conor Cooney (0-03).
Subs: Niall Burke (0-02) for Glynn (42 mins), Jason Flynn (0-02) for C Mannion (54 mins) Shane Maloney for D Burke (68 mins).
Waterford: Stephen O’Keffee, Noel Connors, Barry Coughlan, Shane Five, Philip Mahony, Kieran Bennett (1-00), Darragh Fives, Kevin Moran (1-01), Jamie Barron (0-02), Jake Dillon, Austin Gleeson, Pauric Mahony (0-11, 0-08f), Shane Bennett, Michael Walsh (0-01), Darragh Fives.
Subs: Maurice Shanahan for S Bennett (22 mins), Brian O’Halloran (0-01) for Dillon (47 mins), Tommy Ryan (0-01) for Walsh (54 mins), Colin Dunford for Barron (64 mins), Patrick Curran for Kieran Bennett (64 mins).
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)