By Séamus Barrett

Galway 0-22 Tipperary 1-18

The Liam McCarthy Cup will have a new name engraved on its exterior for the first time since 2013, as Tipp and Kilkenny’s mini period of dominance is guaranteed to come to an end. Neutrals will now be hoping that Waterford see off Cork this Sunday and one of the perennial bridesmaids of so many season’s gone by can finally lift the ultimate prize.

If it is Galway that get their hands on the cup for the first time since 1988, there’s no doubting Joe Canning will be the man to the forefront. With Sunday’s game level well into injury-time the Portumna man yet again took it on himself to carry his side over the line. Out by the sideline on Tipp’s 45, shortly after the teams had been tied level for the 12th time, Canning split the posts when his team needed him to be at his accurate best and they are now just one step away from All-Ireland glory.

It hadn’t been all plain sailing for the Galway talisman. He had three shots off target by the 15th minute before he finally got his eye in to give his side a 0-6 to 0-5 lead. This year Canning can afford to have off periods in games though with the players around him more than capable of producing and while he was having a lean spell, the twos Conors (Whelan and Cooney) stepped up to the plate. Everything good for the Tribesmen in attack was coming through them early on. Having trailed 0-4 to 0-1 at one stage to the Premier men, they were now starting to justify their favourites tag. Those two men combining again, as Cooney fed Whelan for another score. And after the latter man was fouled, Canning supplied the converted free to give Galway a three point advantage of their own.

It was never going to be a game where one side ran away with it and Tipp roared back into contention. First a magnificent long range effort from Padraic Maher got the crowd on their feet, before the only goal of the game arrived. It was hugely fortuitous as the usually reliable Séamus Callanan dropped a relatively easy chance short on his weaker side but hesitation in the Galway defence ensued and allowed John McGrath in to pull first time to the net. They were soon nearly in again. This time a Callanan ground stroke stopped by his namesake Colm in the Galway goal. At the other Whelan’s third point of the day gave Galway a one point advantage with over 25 minutes played. By the time the short whistle went 12 minutes later, it was Tipp who had a one point lead. The expected tit for tat battle had really materialised in the opening half of play.

With just a minute played in the second half it was again all square as Joseph Cooney did excellently to point. Callanan and Canning then traded frees before Whelan raised another white flag. Padraic and Brendan Maher got the next two points of the game, as scores were becoming more and more scarce. Another wide from Canning in that time really made it look like it wasn’t going to be his day. He made no mistake with the next one and a monster free from Padraic Mannion had Galway ahead 0-17 to 1-13. The final 20 minutes of play really would see the game become the Joe Show in terms of scoring however, as he was the only Galway player to score in the remaining time. As with the whole season, his team-mates weren’t idle either and they had Colm Callanan to thank again when he stopped a certain Noel McGrath goal at the expense of a 65’.

A superb Gearóid McInerney catch saw him burst out of defence and release to Canning, who made no mistake from distance to put two between the sides. Bubbles O’Dwyer reduced the gap, before a Canning 65’ kept two between the teams. Points from the McGrath brothers had Tipp back on terms with over an hour played. With less than five minutes to go an aimless Tipp clearance fell straight into the hand of that man and Canning made no mistake to give his side the lead again. Like all the leads in this one, it was short-lived. Bubbles again doing the honours. A replay was surely on the cards now but both sides had other ideas. A Canning special from 80 yards again gave Galway the slenderest of leads. Wides were coming thick and fast from both teams now as the Leinster champions were looking to hang on. Tipp were soon awarded the chance to level yet again, with a free from midfield. Captain Brendan Maher was handed the responsibility and he delivered with aplomb. A minute left and there was still time for Canning to deliver the game’s defining moment. After doing so, Tipp had one chance through Bubbles but he snatched at his effort from out by the sideline and Callanan in the Galway goal let it trickle harmlessly wide. Barry Kelly blew the full-time whistle after the resulting puck-out and the team tipped for the All-Ireland hurling crown early on in the campaign now have to deliver just one more performance to bring it home to the West!

Teams and scorers.

Galway: C Callanan; A Tuohy, Daithi Burke, J Hanbury; P Mannion (0-1f), G McInerney, A Harte; J Coen (0-2), David Burke; C Mannion (0-1), J Canning (0-11/0-6f/0-1 sideline, 0-1 ’65), J Cooney (0-1); C Whelan (0-4), N Burke, C Cooney (0-2). Subs: J Flynn for N Burke, J Glynn for C Mannion, S Moloney for C Cooney.

Tipperary: D Gleeson; D Maher, J Barry, M Cahill; S Kennedy (0-1), R Maher, Paudie Maher (0-2); B Maher (0-3/0-2f), M Breen; D McCormack, Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher, N McGrath (0-2); J O’Dwyer (0-3), S Callanan (0-5/ 0-3f), J McGrath (1-1). Subs: J Forde (0-1) for Breen, N O’Meara for Forde.