Tipperary pip Galway in semi-final thriller

Two late second-half goals proved decisive for Tipperary as they edged Galway by 2-19 to 2-18 in a gripping All-Ireland hurling semi-final at Croke Park.

In a back-and-forth game, the Munster champions breached the Galway defence twice in the final ten minutes to set up their fifth All-Ireland final meeting with Kilkenny in eight seasons.

Galway were leading by three points in the 61st minute when substitute John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer levelled the game with a goal and Tipp were in front three minutes later when John McGrath netted.

Tipperary didn’t score in the final nine minutes but clung on for victory as Galway could only muster points from Conor Cooney and substitute Shane Maloney.

The Tribesmen lost talisman Joe Canning in first-half injury time to a left hamstring injury and Cooney assumed free-taking duties in his absence in the second-half.

Canning, who had earlier been levelled by a ferocious challenge from Padraig Maher that forced both to go off briefly as blood substitutions, appeared to pull his hamstring chasing possession towards the Cusack Stand side as the half drew to a close.

Midfielder Adrian Tuohy also had to be withdrawn at the interval with Galway manager Micheál Donoghue forced to bring Cyril Donnellan and Andy Smith to replace the injured duo.

Joe Canning following his heavy clash with
Joe Canning following his heavy clash with Padraig Maher.

Galway led by two points at the break with a superb goal from Cooney in the seventh minute edging them ahead.

Niall O’Meara turned the ball over in his own half of the field, and Johnny Coen picked out Conor Cooney with a pass before the St Thomas’ man rifled the ball past Darren Gleeson from 20 yards out.

That put Galway 1-2 to 0-2 in front but Tipp answered superbly by scoring seven of the game’s next eight points with Seamus Callanan (three frees), Michael Breen, Brendan Maher, Noel McGrath and John McGrath all on target to go 0-9 to 1-3 ahead after 15 minutes.

However they failed to score for the next 16 minutes as Galway wrestled back the initiative with points Canning (four frees), David Burke and Joseph Cooney before Callanan eventually stopped the rot by converting a free in the 31st minute.

The first big moment of the second half came in the 43rd minute when Joseph Cooney dispossessed Brendan Maher 50 yards from goal and drove at the Tipperary goal before drilling the sliotar into the bottom corner.

That gave Galway a three-point lead and prompted Michael Ryan to introduce O’Dwyer in place of O’Meara in the Tipp attack.

The sides traded points with Tipperary unable to wipe out Galway’s lead until a big mistake from John Hanbury gave the Premier County a lifeline nine minutes from time.

Hanbury slipped coming out to the ball, giving Tipperary a two-on-one advantage in front of goal and John McGrath expertly drew Johnny Coen before slipping the ball off for O’Dwyer to drill past Colm Callanan from a narrow angle.

That edged Tipp in front for the first time since the 22nd minute and, though Conor Cooney immediately pointed to level the game, disaster struck again for Galway three minutes later.

Callanan found John McGrath unmarked in front of goal with a lovely deft, first-time handpass after good work from Patrick ‘Bonar’ Maher and Tipp corner-forward blasted past Callanan from close range.

That put Tipperary three points in front with seven minutes to play and set up a frantic finale but Galway were unable to overhaul the deficit, meaning they miss out on the opportunity to avenge last season’s All-Ireland final loss to Kilkenny.

Tipperary: D Gleeson; C Barrett, J Barry, M Cahill; S Kennedy, R Maher (0-01), Pádraic Maher (0-01); B Maher (0-01), M Breen (0-03); D McCormack, Patrick Maher, N McGrath (0-03); J McGrath (1-01), S Callanan (0-09, 8f, 1 65), N O’Meara.

Subs: J O’Dwyer (1-00) for O’Meara (45), J Forde for N McGrath (57), S Curran for Breen (68), T Hamill for Kennedy (70+2).

Galway: C Callanan; A Harte, Daithí Burke, J Hanbury; A Tuohy, P Mannion, G McInerney; David Burke (0-01), J Coen; C Mannion, J Cooney (1-01), J Canning (0-05, 3f, 1 65); J Flynn (0-02), C Whelan (0-02), C Cooney (1-06, 0-04f).

Subs: A Smith for Tuohy (h.t.), C Donnellan for Canning (h.t.), S Moloney (0-01) for Whelan (66), N Burke for C Mannion (66), D Collins for Harte (68).

Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath)

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