All-Ireland SHC Semi-Final
Galway are just 70 minutes away from a first All Ireland since 1988 after a pulsating semi-final victory over defending champions Tipperary.
An epic contest, worthy of being the final, was decided by a brilliant last-gasp strike from Joe Canning, who under immense pressure managed to conjure a moment of magic, one of many in this game, to send the ball over the bar from 60 yards out, and send Galway through to the final.
It was a moment of class from the Portumna man worthy of winning any semi-final, or any match for that matter, although it deprived us all of what would have been a very welcome replay on the evidence of this.
Canning, though, had other ideas and victory sends Galway into the final where they’ll face the victors of Cork vs Waterford, as they look to go one better than their All Ireland final defeats of 1990, 1993, 2001, 2005, 2012 and 2015. Surely now is Galway’s time?
“I think in big games like that big moments are defined by your big players and he really stood up to the mark,” said Galway manager Mícheál Donoghue.
“It was an epic encounter, we are just very fortunate to come out on the right side of it. I just think both teams draw the best out of each other.”
This was the crucial moment from yesterday’s All-Ireland Hurling Semi-Final – look back at Joe Canning’s late point in this GAANOW clip! pic.twitter.com/Epdt8f4nFl
— The GAA (@officialgaa) August 7, 2017
While Galway went onto the game looking for their tenth straight Allianz League and Championship win in 2017, Tipperary suffered a 16-point hammering at the hands of Tipperary in the Division 1 final and were dumped out of Munster by Cork, but it was Michael Ryan’s side who raced into 0-4 to 0-1 lead.
Questions had been asked of Tipp’s full back line by Clare, and Galway sought to test it further by hitting the ball in high and long to their inside forward line whenever possible.
Galway proceeded to outscore Tipp by seven points to just one, as they got to grips with the game, but Tipp dragged themselves back into it and John McGrath took advantage of some sloppy defensive work to goal and level the game at 1-6 to 0-9.
It was Tipp who finished first half the stronger and took a 1-10 to 0-12 lead into the break, leaving Galway to scratch their heads.
But the first half was just the appetiser, as the second saw the sides’ trade blow-for-blow.
Colm Callanan produced a fine low save to deny Noel McGrath, with neither side able to get more than two points head, before being clawed back by the other.
John O’Dwyer brought Tipp level by the 66th minute and but for Seamus Callanan missing two 65s they might have been able to get their noses ahead as the clock ticked down.
As it was, a massive Canning free edged Galway in front, only for Brendan Maher to nail a long range free of his own two minutes into injury-time to tie things up once more.
Canning had one last chance to win it for Galway, but his free fell short, only for Tipp’s clearance to find Johnny Coen, who fed it straight back to Canning.
Under immediate pressure, and without looking at the posts, Canning instinctively launched a strike from under the Cusack Stand which had all inside Croker and watching on tv holding their breath, before dropping over the bar. A moment of brilliance.
“At half-time we said to the lads that we were happy enough with where we were, we were within touching distance,” added Donoghue.
“There were a few things and areas we thought we were down on, but we just pushed the boys to try to improve on those. We challenged them on work-rate, attitude, and desire, I thought they showed that in abundance.”
Tipperary manager Michael Ryan, said: “When that opportunity fell to Joe Canning, he took it. It is harsh on any team to lose that kind of a match. This is the exact reverse of what happened last year. We beat them by a point. We lost by a point in 2015.
“We are no stranger to these tight games with Galway. I just thought they were really, really good here. So too were our guys. A great bunch of fellas. They tried so hard to stay in that game and get something out of it. It just wasn’t to be.”
Scorers for Galway: Joe Canning 0-11 (6f, 1 ’65, 1 sideline), Conor Whelan 0-4, Conor Cooney 0-2, Johnny Coen 0-2, Cathal Mannion 0-1, Joseph Cooney 0-1, Padraic Mannion 0-1 (f).
Scorers for Tipperary: Seamus Callanan 0-5 (3f), John McGrath 1-0, John O’Dwyer 0-3, Noel McGrath 0-3, Brendan Maher 0-3 (2f), Padraic Maher 0-2, Seamus Kennedy 0-1.
GALWAY: Colm Callanan; Adrian Tuohey, Daithi Burke, John Hanbury; Padraic Mannion, Gearoid McInerney, Aidan Harte; Johnny Coen, David Burke; Niall Burke, Joseph Cooney, Joe Canning; Conor Whelan, Conor Cooney, Cathal Mannion. Subs: Jason Flynn for Niall Burke (45), Jonathan Glynn for Cathal Mannion (53), Shane Maloney for Conor Cooney (69).
TIPPERARY: Darren Gleeson; Donagh Maher, James Barry, Michael Cahill; Seamus Kennedy, Ronan Maher, Padraic Maher; Brendan Maher, Michael Breen; Dan McCormack, Noel McGrath, Patrick Maher; John O’Dwyer, Seamus Callanan, John McGrath. Subs: Jason Forde for Michael Breen (34), Niall O’Meara for Jason Forde (61).