Hurlers late victory leaves supporters breathless

Galway’s Conor Whelan, right, and Daithi Burke celebrate

Galway’s Conor Whelan, right, and Daithi Burke celebrate

The atmosphere in the stands and on the terraces in Croke Park around 5.30pm last Sunday afternoon was absolutely electric.

The tension around the big house was raw energy personified.

Both sets of supporters were gulping in air at a rate of knots just to keep their pounding hearts from stopping.

And it must have been truly hectic and frantic inside the white lines on the pitch.

Thankfully all of the Galway players were still steely in their resolve to close out the deal, and when Pádraic Mannion did brilliantly to flick the ball down for Johnny Coen to run onto from a late late Tipperary clearance - Galway still had a chance to book a place in the final.

The Loughrea man showed great composure and vision to turn around from a forward gallop and flick the sliotar back to the right man, in the right place.

Joe Canning.

And JC did what he does best, scoring a glorious point.

A score for the ages.

It was a truly magnificent point from right out by the sideline on the Cusack Stand side of the pitch, with three Tipperary players bearing down on him, and one worthy of winning what had been a stunning contest between both sides.

Canning’s wonder point saw Galway emerge victorious on a score-line of 0-22 to 1-18.

Credit must go to Daithí Burke too, for the marvellous fetch he had made before the free that led subsequently to the winning score.

Without Burke’s bravery in the air and his big right claw clutching the sliotar in front of Seamus Callanan and Canning would not have gotten the chance to showcase his magical powers with that score.

Donoghue not surprised by Canning’s point

Galway team manager Micheál Donoghue was not surprised by Canning’s heroic effort.

“Joe has that quality. Because of the talent he has, he can always get that type of a score. He turned up at the right place at the right time and it was a super score.”

Donoghue who was in the Tipperary backroom team just a few short years ago correctly gave credit to the vanquished team.

“Huge credit has to go to Tipp. It was an epic. The third in a row and it turned out to be a real cracker in the second half.”

The Clarinbridge man will have already told his players that there was no silverware handed out last weekend and he pointed out that the management team of Noel Larkin and Frannie Forde will be getting the panel back to brass tacks this week.

While Canning was stupendous in the last 20 minutes scoring Galway’s last five points of the game, the other forwards all made big contributions too.

Conor Whelan’s four points from play and magnificent work-rate were key factors in Galway reaching their third All-Ireland final in six years - four if you count the replay in 2012.

Whelan showed his appetite for work when his super hook on Michael Cahill as he foiled his attempt to level matters, before Brendan Maher restored parity from a free for a foul by the Kinvara man as he worked back the field.

However, when authentic and compelling leadership was needed in the last fifteen minutes to get scores, it was the man from Portumna who drove the maroon ship into dock.

JC was omnipotent.

He hit a super long effort on 53 minutes after an awesome catch and pass from Gearoid McInerney, and added a few ice cool efforts from placed balls before he put the cherry on top with his glorious winner on almost the stroke of full-time.

Tipperary did had one last chance to equalise, but John O’ Dywer’s effort just drifted wide of Colm Callanan’s post to the joy of the huge Galway support that made up a big part of the 68,000 plus in attendance.

All in all it was a terrific team effort for Galway to eke out the one-point win.

Colm Callanan made two top class saves to prevent Tipp goals and both Adrian Tuohy and John Hanbury covered well beside the best full-back in the land - Daithí Burke.

The Galway half-back line of Mannion, McInerney and Harte were fantastic and won a world of ball with McInerney’s inspirational fielding and power play in the second half a joy to watch.

Midfielder Johnny Coen hit two sweet points from play and team captain David Burke put in a big shift around the middle and linked a lot of ball. A lot of Burke’s work and covering is unseen but the three time all-star is a crucial spoke in the Galway wheel.

Conor Cooney continued his good form and chipped in with 0-2 from play.

Johnny Glynn’s introduction was important too as the Ardrahan man caused consternation in the Tipperary rearguard and forced Tipperary’s captain Pádraic Maher to move over to mark him which created more space on the left flank of the Tipperary defence.

Only a semi-final

Galway will face either Cork or Waterford in the final in three weeks time (Sept 3 ) and after All-Ireland final defeats to Kilkenny in 2012 (after a replay ) and 2015, this squad of players will know that a glorious semi-final win is soon forgotten, unless they close out the deal.

Last weekend was a magnificent day for the Galway hurlers and their supporters in Croke Park, however, it was only a stepping stone to what is really needed.

The Liam McCarthy cup back West for the first time, in too long.

Scorers for Galway: J. Canning (0-11, 6 frees, 1 sideline, 1 65 ), C. Whelan (0-4 ), C. Cooney, J. Coen (0-2 each ); C. Mannion, J.Cooney, P. Mannion (free ) (0-1 each ).

Galway: C. Callanan; A.Tuohy, Daithí Burke, J. Hanbury; P. Mannion, G. McInerney, A. Harte; J. Coen, David Burke (Cpt ); N. Burke, J. Canning, J. Cooney; C. Whelan, C. Cooney, C. Mannion.

Subs for Galway: J. Flynn for N. Burke (46 ); J. Glynn for C. Mannion (53 ); S. Maloney for C. Cooney (70 ); G. Lally for G. McInerney (temp ).



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