Last Sunday’s All-Ireland minor semi-final turned decisively in Tipp’s favour when Galway fullback and captain Paul Killeen was controversially dismissed midway through the second half.
It may not have changed the final result, and Tipp were moving well and looked to be in control when he was sent to the line, but it most definitely did not help Galway’s chances of reaching the All-Ireland final.
A small tangle with Tipperary sub Seán Maher on the 20 metre line at the Canal End looked innocuous, but referee Tony Carroll deemed it a yellow card offence and, as the Tynagh-Abbey-Duniry youngster had been booked in first-half injury time, a second yellow led to the inevitable red.
Tipp were three points clear at the time, 2-11 to 1-11, and went on to win on a scoreline of 2-16 to 1-14. Following Killeen’s red card, Tipperary used Ronan Maher as the spare man in defence and coped comfortably with everything Galway threw at them.
Galway team manager Mattie Murphy, who has led the county to six All-Ireland successes at this grade over the years, insisted the sending-off was wrong. However, he had no complaints with the final outcome.
Galway began with three of the starting 15 from last year’s All-Ireland final victory over Dublin, Killeen being one of them, and gave as good as they got before Mark McCarthy’s 37th minute goal turned the tide in Tipp’s favour.
Similar to their win in the quarter-final over Wexford, Galway enjoyed a brilliant start with 1-1 in the first three minutes. Brian Molloy opened the scoring with a first-minute point before the corner forward fed Jason Flynn, a 2011 All-Ireland medallist, for the game’s opening goal.
But Tipp responded with an unanswered 1-3. The sides were deadlocked twice at 1-5, and 1-6 apiece before a McGrath free edged Tipp ahead by a point at half time.
The early exchanges of the second half were reminiscent of the first - nip and tuck with the sides level twice more – at 1-7 and 1-8 each. Then daylight appeared for Tipp as McGrath put them 1-9 to 1-8 clear with a 36th minute free before McCarthy struck for the game-changing goal.
Galway: M O Conghaile; D O'Donoghue, P Killeen (cpt ), E Burke; S Caulfield, S Sweeney, B Keane, S Collins, C Mannion; B Murtagh, D Dolan, J Flynn, R O'Meara, M Mullins, B Molloy. Sub used: A Morrissey, P English, O Treacy, S Linnane, A Higgins.