Galway hurlers went down battling

Galway's Joe Canning and Tipperary's James Barry in action from the at the  GAA Hurling All - Ireland semi-final at Croke Park on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Galway's Joe Canning and Tipperary's James Barry in action from the at the GAA Hurling All - Ireland semi-final at Croke Park on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Any time a team loses a big game by a solitary point, there is major disappointment for those involved, their management team, and for their supporters.

And it was no different after watching Galway lose Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final to Tipperary by the narrowest of margins, by 2-19 to 2-18.

The Galway supporters in the large crowd of 54,227 were just hoping and praying for another minute or two from Westmeath's Barry Kelly to try to conjure an equalising point, but it was not to be and Tipp received some solace after last year's defeat to the Tribesmen by the same margin.

It was Tipperary's two goals in the last 10 minutes by John "Bubbles" O'Dwyer and John McGrath that put paid to Galway's hope of contesting another All-Ireland final.

Those two goals in the 60th and 63rd minute were massive hammer blows to a Galway defence that had limited Tipperary’s starting six forwards to just four points from play for the first hour of play.

Daithí Burke did an outstanding job on holding Seamus Callanan scoreless too, but when Tipperary's second goal put them 2-19 to 2-16 in front, it was a lead they were not going to surrender easily, despite Galway's frantic efforts to reign them in.

Galway's two injuries were a factor

A significant factor in Galway's defeat were the injuries to defender Adrian Tuohy and star forward Joe Canning just before half time that led to both players being replaced.

Tuohy had been doing well in the first period and Canning's hamstring pull robbed the team of their talisman up front, their regular free taker, and a player capable of doing something special to win a game for either club or county.

In his absence, the Galway attack did not carry the same threat or purpose as had been the case in the first half, and they failed to push on when they had opportunities to do so in the second half.

Canning's loss cannot be overstated.

The Portumna man had hit five points in the first half and was moving well until he took a huge shoulder from Padraic Maher, and a few minutes later, after he had come back on the field, pulled his hamstring.

You would have to believe that Canning would have been worth a few scores to Galway in that second half.

The fact that Micheál Donoghue was forced to make two big changes at half time was a definite blow to their chances of winning while Johnny Coen's relocation from midfield to the backs robbed Galway of a bit of pace around the middle too.

Both Andy Smith and Cyril Donnellan worked hard when they were introduced, but it would have been ideal if those men could have been held in reserve until the last quarter to make a bigger impact.

Injuries are part and parcel of sport which is why there is a squad of 26 on the match day, but looking at three-times All-Star Canning being helped from the field at half time meant every Galway supporter had a knot in their gut as Galway led at half time by 1-10 to 0-11.

Due to the severity of the pull, it was clear that even if Galway were to win, Canning would be unlikely to be back.

Now Tipperary will be hopeful of beating Kilkenny for the first time in an All-Ireland final since 2010 and the loss of midfielder Michael Fennelly with a torn Achilles tendon is a big blow to Brian Cody's men.

Galway will take the next few months to reflect on the year and it will give the management team the opportunity to look for some new talent from the club championship to bolster the squad for 2017.

Last weekend was disappointing but at least the players died with their boots on.

Mistakes were made and there are plenty of things that can be improved, but the workrate, honesty and endeavour could not be faulted. Those are characteristics on which any team can build.

Galway: C Callanan, A Harte, Daithí Burke, J Hanbury, A Tuohy, P Mannion, G McInerney, J Coen, David Burke Cpt (0-1 ), C Mannion, J Cooney (1-1 ), J Canning (0-5, 0-3 frees, 0-1 ’65 ), J Flynn (0-2 ), C Whelan (0-2 ) C Cooney (1-6, 0-4 frees );.

Subs: A Smith for Tuohy (HT, inj ); C Donnellan for Canning (HT, inj ); S Maloney (0-1 ) for Whelan, N Burke for C Mannion (both 65 ); D Collins for Harte (67 ).

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