Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy pictured with players Séamus Callanan and Noel McGrath.
Calm heads are now required in the Premier County as supporters of the blue and gold come to terms with a tame exit from the 2020 Allianz National Hurling League; the defending All-Ireland champions lost out to a rampant Galway side (3-13 to 3-21) at Pearse Stadium in Salthill on Sunday afternoon, but the key thing to remember is that the Tipperary players and the management team led by Liam Sheedy should be solely judged on their championship performances. Essentially, there is no need to panic.
Allianz National Hurling League Division 1A
Galway 3-21 Tipperary 3-13
From a Tipperary point of view this was a reasonably distressing performance. Thanks to two opportunist John McGrath goals and an absolute stunner from Jason Forde the Premier County actually led by eight points (3-7 to 0-8) in first half injury time, but Galway dominated thereafter when out-scoring Liam Sheedy’s men by sixteen points (0-6 to 3-13) during the remainder of this contest.
Galway were operating with the aid of a very strong wind in the second half and although this was a significant factor in the prevailing pattern of the game some aspects of the Tipperary performance were of real concern: Tipp were destroyed on their own re-start in the second half (especially on the break) and the work rate of a handful of the forwards and the midfield sector left quite a bit to be desired. Indeed, the ball being delivered from the middle third toward Galway’s inside line reduced the effectiveness of the marking Tipperary defenders and the result was inevitable with Conor Whelan, Conor Cooney and Brian Concannon running riot.
Some Tipperary supporters have a habit of over-reacting to results like this eight-point defeat, but the reality of the situation is that the Premier County are led by some very smart operators and the playing squad features some notable leaders who will endeavour to get Liam Sheedy’s men back on track.
Tipperary will now concentrate their time on preparing for the 2020 Munster Senior Hurling Championship with a series of appetising contests coming up against Waterford (away, May 10), Clare (home, May 17), Limerick (away, June 6) and Cork (home, June 14).
Despite not playing all that well in the opening half Tipperary conjured three goals and one of those was particularly eye-catching with Séamus Callanan’s extraordinary one-handed stick pass finding Cian Darcy at centre-forward and the Kilruane man, in turn, picking out the unmarked Jason Forde inside the 21-yard line; the ‘Mines man finished off his left and propelled the Premier County toward an eight-point interval advantage (3-7 to 0-9).
An atrocious first half performance from the Galway full-back line aided the Tipperary efforts no end. In the third minute Darren Morrissey was caught out of position when an Alan Flynn punt flew over his head and John McGrath delivered a composed finish - it is worth noting that Noel McGrath threw up and caught the ball during the build-up to this strike; an infraction that was completely missed by referee Johnny Murphy.
Darren Morrissey attempted to play John McGrath from the front in the 15th minute on a Tipperary re-start and when Brian Hogan’s booming puck-out by-passed the ambitious corner-back John McGrath gathered possession and demanded an excellent save from James Skehill.
John McGrath struck for his second goal in the 21st minute when the Galway full-back line failed to deal with a Jason Forde free which dropped short (two Galway defenders addressed the dropping ball); the Loughmore-Castleiney man gathered the break and buried his shot from point blank range.
Prior to that strike Galway, despite playing into a very strong breeze, were right in it (1-3 to 0-5) thanks in no small measure to the free-taking of Evan Niland and an excellent Brian Concannon point from play in the 17th minute.
Tipperary closed out the opening half well when out-scoring their hosts 2-4 to 0-4 during the concluding fifteen minutes. There was plenty of anxiety facing into the second period, however, since Tipp were not playing at all well and had already conceded thirteen frees (earned six). Ultimately, Galway won the free count 21-12.
Tipperary actually enjoyed a terrific opportunity to put this contest to bed three minutes into the second half when Séamus Callanan created an opportunity for John O’Dwyer, but Galway ‘keeper James Skehill advanced off his line to smother the chance. Seconds later Galway were denied what looked like a certain penalty when Brian Concannon was hauled down, but referee Johnny Murphy waved play on.
An Evan Niland free preceded Galway’s opening goal in the 41st minute - Conor Whelan applied the finish, but it was the pattern associated with the build-up to this three-pointer which was of particular concern. Galway dominated Brian Hogan’s puck-out, Darren Morrissey moved the ball smartly out of the contact zone, Brian Concannon accepted a smart stick pass and then set up Whelan for the finish.
Galway gobbled up the subsequent re-start once more and when Johnny Coen fired over the Tipp lead was down to two (3-7 to 1-11).
The Premier County opted to go short and pieced together a lovely more in the 43rd minute which culminated in a point for the over-lapping Pádraic Maher with John McGrath providing the assist, but such composed play was a rare feature of the second half and although Dillon Quirke added to the Tipp tally soon after points from Brian Concannon (two) and Conor Cooney left one between them (3-9 to 1-14) with twenty-six minutes to play.
Michael Breen and Jason Forde (free) responded for Tipperary, but with the home support roaring them on there was no denying Galway. Jason Flynn (sideline) and Cian Darcy traded points before another Evan Niland free reduced the deficit to two. And, in the 57th minute man of the match Conor Whelan struck for the goal which propelled Galway into the lead for the first time (3-12 to 2-16). Once more the Tipperary re-start was spoiled, Johnny Coen delivered in a smashing ball which Conor Whelan won ahead of an isolated Ronan Maher; Whelan took on his man and converted the opportunity.
During the concluding sixteen minutes (three minutes of injury time) Tipperary would score just a single point (Jason Forde). And, with the match now settled in a practical sense Evan Niland (frees) and Brian Concannon added points to the Galway tally while Niland set up Cathal Mannion to bury the Tribesmen’s third goal in the 65th minute.
Galway: James Skehill, Paul Killeen, Gearóid McInerney, Darren Morrissey, Aidan Harte, Shane Cooney, Fintan Burke, Pádraic Mannion, Cathal Mannion (1-0), Evan Niland (0-14, 0-13 frees), Conor Whelan (2-0), Johnny Coen (0-1), Brian Concannon (0-4), Conor Cooney (0-1), Jason Flynn (0-1 sideline). Subs: (25th) Seán Loftus for Paul Killeen, (46th) Adrian Tuohey for Shane Cooney, (56th) David Burke for Pádraic Mannion, (56th) Niall Burke for Jason Flynn, (67th) Kevin Cooney for Brian Concannon.
Tipperary: Brian Hogan (Lorrha-Dorrha), Paul Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), Barry Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg), Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields, 0-1), Séamus Kennedy (St Mary’s, Clonmel), Pádraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields, 0-1), Alan Flynn (Kiladangan), Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Ger Browne (Knockavilla-Donaskeigh Kickhams), Jason Forde (Silvermines, 1-5, 0-2 frees, 0-2 ‘65s), Séamus Callanan (Drom & Inch, 0-1), Dillon Quirke (Clonoulty-Rossmore, 0-1), John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney, 2-1), John O’Dwyer (Killenaule), Cian Darcy (Kilruane MacDonagh’s, 0-2). Subs: (48th) Seán O’Brien (Newport) for Paul Maher, (48th) Michael Breen (Ballina, 0-1) for Ger Browne, (57th) Paul Flynn (Kiladangan) for John O’Dwyer, (59th) Dan McCormack (Borris-Ileigh) for Dillon Quirke, (69th) Jerome Cahill (Kilruane MacDonagh’s) for Cian Darcy.
Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick).