Tipperary 2-19 Galway 2-18
Just when it looked like Tipperary were about to suffer a second consecutive championship exit at the hands of Galway the tide turned and two goals inside the last 10 minutes helped Michael Ryan's side over the line and back to Croke Park for next month's All-Ireland final.
The Premier County just about survived in an enthralling contest against the Connacht side in a game that ebbed and flowed throughout. But heroically Tipperary refused to accept defeat, answering once and for all those who questioned their fighting spirit in close games.
And when it was increasingly looking like the end of the road for the Munster champions Tipperary responded magnificently with two match-winning goals.
John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer, who came on in the 45th minute put Tipp a point up with the first goal in the 61st minute, a goal from a very narrow angle that only a top class finisher could make. The pass was supplied by John McGrath.
Minutes later the younger McGrath brother hit Tipp’s second, finishing off a Bonner Maher/Seamus Callanan move to put Tipp 2-19 to 2-16 ahead.
The Loughmore/Castleiney man’s goal was Tipp's final score of the game but manfully, despite Galway throwing everything they had at Tipp, the Brendan Maher captained side just held on for the narrowest of margins.
Tipp had been rocked by a Conor Cooney goal after just seven minutes. However they seemed to recover quickly from that early setback to go three points up but a barren period of almost 16 minutes without a score saw Tipp trail at the break by 1-10 to 0-11. Significantly, Galway lost top scorer Joe Canning just before the interval with a hamstring injury.
After a good opening to the second half in which they quickly drew level, Tipp suffered the loss of a second goal. A bad mix-up as Tipp overplayed the sliothar, allowed Joe Cooney a run on goal to blast past Darren Gleeson. Tipp’s early good work undone by a self inflicted wound and Galway once more had the momentum and a 2-12 to 0-15 lead.
On other days Tipp teams would have wilted but not this time. Some inspiring points followed, especially a pair from the Maher brothers, and Tipp kept hanging in.
With 20 minutes remaining they were level for the eighth time before the Westerners pulled ahead by two once again. They were still two up before ‘Bubbles’ struck with the first of Tipp's goals, the Killenaule man's strike edging Tipp ahead.
The second goal came soon afterwards, finished by John McGrath (after Seamus Callanan's sublime handpass) which gave Tipp a lead they never relinquished thereafter- just about.
Perhaps, this was the least impressive display from Tipperary all year with many of the starting fifteen below par on the day. However, the purpose of the day was to get back for a final in three weeks time. Tipp have achieved that. The improvement can follow.
Now all the attention will switch to yet another Tipperary v Kilkenny All-Ireland final (the fifth since 2009 including the drawn final in 2014).
Scorers for Tipperary: Seamus Callanan 0-9 (0-8f, 0-1 ’65), John McGrath 1-1, John O’Dwyer 1-0, Noel McGrath, Michael Breen 0-3 each, Ronan Maher, Padraic Maher, Brendan Maher 0-1 each.
Scorers for Galway: Conor Cooney 1-7 (0-5f), Joe Canning 0-5 (0-3f, 0-1 ’65), Joseph Cooney 1-1, Conor Whelan 0-2, Shane Moloney, David Burke, Jason Flynn 0-1 each.
Darren Gleeson – Portroe
Cathal Barrett – Holycross-Ballycahill
James Barry – Upperchurch-Drombane
Michael Cahill – Thurles Sarsfields
Seamus Kennedy – St. Mary’s, Clonmel
Ronan Maher – Thurles Sarsfields
Padraic Maher – Thurles Sarsfields
Brendan Maher (Capt.) – Borris-Ileigh
Michael Breen – Ballina
Dan McCormack – Borris-Ileigh
Patrick Maher – Lorrha-Dorrha
Noel McGrath – Loughmore-Castleiney
John McGrath – Loughmore-Castleiney
Seamus Callanan – Drom & Inch
Niall O’Meara – Kilruane MacDonaghs
John O’Dwyer (Killenaule) for O’Meara (45)
Jason Forde (Silvermines) for Noel McGrath (57)
Sean Curran (Mullinahone) for Breen (67)
Tomás Hamill (Moyne/Templetuohy) for Kennedy (71)
Colm Callanan, Aidan Harte, Daithí Burke, John Hanbury, Adrian Tuohy, Padraic Mannion, Gearóid McInerney, Johnny Coen, David Burke, Cathal Mannion, Joseph Cooney, Joe Canning, Jason Flynn, Conor Whelan, Conor Cooney.
Andrew Smith (Portumna) for Canning (blood) (24); Canning for Smith (27); Cyril Donnellan (Padraig Pearses) for Canning (inj) (half-time); Andrew Smith (Portumna) for Tuohy (half-time); Shane Maloney (Tynagh-Abbey-Duniry) for Whelan (65); Niall Burke (Oranmore-Maree) for Cathal Mannion (65); David Collins (Liam Mellowes) for Harte (67)
Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath).