Gal­way’s rout of Tipp adds in­trigue to the sum­mer

All-Ire­land win­ners re­stricted to their low­est score since Fe­bru­ary 2015

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Front Page - Malachy Clerkin at the Gaelic Grounds

What­ever way you called this league fi­nal, you didn’t call it this way. If you imag­ined one team win­ning by 16 points, you didn’t reckon on it be­ing Gal­way. If you pre­dicted three points from play as the day’s work for a full-for­ward line, it wasn’t Tip­per­ary’s you had in mind. Or if it was, you were mighty quiet about it.

Where to start with a score­line that reads Gal­way 3-21 Tip­per­ary 0-14? The ce­ment­ing of Gal­way’s claims come the sum­mer seems as good a place as any.

They leapfrogged Water­ford in some of the bet­ting books af­ter this, pre­sum­ably be­cause it’s hard to imag­ine Water­ford – or any­one else – put­ting this sort of hurt on Tipp. Micheál Donoghue’s side very ob­vi­ously have the num­ber of the All-Ire­land cham­pi­ons and what­ever else the cham­pi­onship con­tains, we have to hope it throws the pair of them to­gether again at some stage.

The provi s o bei ng, of course, that Tipp don’t turn up for any re­match the sort of wan pas­tiche of them­selves that they were here. This was their low­est scor­ing re­turn in a game since Fe­bru­ary 2015. Michael Ryan picked a work­horse half-for­ward line, only to see it out­worked and out­horsed by the Gal­way half­backs. Pádraic Man­nion, Gearóid McIn­er­ney and Ai­dan Harte formed the spring­board and the rest of the Gal­way dis­play bounced ac­cord­ingly.

Lordly form

Joe Can­ning was in lordly form, es­pe­cially in the first half when Gal­way were strug­gling a lit­tle to turn the wa­ter of their dom­i­nance into the wine of a de­cent lead. At a point in the game where they were do­ing their best to keep Tip­per­ary in­ter­ested with a string of wides and balls dropped short, Can­ning was gen­er­ally unerring. In­side, Ja­son Flynn and Conor Whe­lan made traf­fic cones of the Tipp full-back line.

It all added up to a first league ti­tle for Gal­way since 2010 and the third year in a row that Di­vi­sion 1B has pro­vided the league cham­pi­ons. For Donoghue, it meant a league cam­paign that could have fiz­zled out to nothing af­ter the de­feat at home to Wex­ford on Fe­bru­ary 19th has done the ex­act op­po­site.

“We know Gal­way have been in­con­sis­tent,” said Donoghue af­ter­wards. “It’s been lev- elled at us by cer­tain me­dia and to be hon­est, we’re to­tally com­fort­able with that. We know we’re in­con­sis­tent. But the only way out of that is to work hard and that’s what we’ve been do­ing.

“It’s one step at a time. If you go back to the Wex­ford game, these play­ers got ab­so­lutely lac­er­ated in Gal­way. We knew there were a cou­ple of things we weren’t happy with but we kept work­ing hard.

“The fact that we’ve won it now, my mes­sage isn’t go­ing to change. What we wanted from the league was to stay in it as close to the Dublin game as pos­si­ble. We wanted com­pet­i­tive games and it’s all about Dublin on May 28th now. It’s been a long trek for the lads and they de­serve that.”


This was one of those games where the mar­gin was purely at the whim of the win­ners. Tipp never re­ally had a say. Gal­way led by 0-11 to 0-5 at half-time and it was only down to their waste­ful­ness that they re­mained in sight at all. They pucked 11 wides in the first half alone, dropped three balls into Dar­ren Gleeson’s hand and saw two goal chances de­nied.

At the other end, Tipp were un­recog­nis­able. John McGrath was on the frees in Sea­mus Cal­lanan’s ab­sence and missed f our bef or e half-time. John O’Dwyer took over for the sec­ond half but was sub­sti­tuted nine min­utes af­ter the restart. Noel McGrath missed a hand­ful of shots he’d nor­mally pot in his sleep. It was out-of-body stuff.

“No, I can’t ex­plain where it all went wrong,” said Michael Ryan af­ter­wards. That was a com­plete non-show from us, to be hon­est. We cer­tainly weren’t pre­pared for that kind of a game – we weren’t pre­pared for any kind of a game with that kind of a per­for­mance.

“It was the worst per­for­mance we’ve had in the length of time I’ve been looking af­ter these boys. It’s very dis­ap­point­ing in a na­tional fi­nal, that we’d choose today to come up with one of those.”

If the game was un­der a rea­son­ably se­cure lock at half-time, it only took a minute af­ter the break to throw away the key. Mickey Cahill mis­con­trolled a hopping ball on the Tipp 20-me­tre line and Flynn was away and gone it be­fore he could re­cover. His fin­ish was high to Gleeson’s left and just like t hat , Gal­way had a nine-point lead that was al­to­gether more fit­ting to the day. Game, set and match with 34 min­utes still to play.

By the end, Flynn had an­other and Cahill had been called to the line. It was surely only num­bers that saved Cathal Bar­rett in the other cor­ner from the same fate. Ditto nearly all but Bren­dan Ma­her on the Tipp side.

A cu­ri­ous per­for­mance all around.

Out of nowhere came Gal­way to claim a first Al­lianz League in seven years, their 10th.

Well, not quite nowhere; they are the third side from Di­vi­sion 1B – home of cham­pi­ons – to win the ti­tle and in their case they weren’t even pro­moted this sea­son.

In Li mer ic k ’ s Gae li c Grounds be­fore 16,089, they started the stronger against the team reck­oned by con­sen­sus to be a step ahead of every­one.

In fact, Gal­way flat­tered them by not tak­ing early chances to dis­ap­pear out of sight.

Then, in the sec­ond half, the goals came: two from Ja­son Flynn, the first within 50 sec­onds of the restart. And with Joe Can­ning in mas­ter­ful form (0-9, one wide) and Conor Whe­lan a pro­duc­tive ap­pren­tice (five points from play) they buried the favourites with­out re­morse.

The whole coup against the All-Ire­land cham­pi­ons was more rem­i­nis­cent of those cham­pi­onship days years ago when Gal­way used to si­dle in to Croke Park in Au­gust not hav­ing played a serious match since the spring, and un­leash de­struc­tion on teams who had emerged from high-pro­file pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onships.

Man­ager Micheál Donoghue, who han­dles his words in post-match interview en­vi­ron­ments like a bomb dis­posal ex­pert, was quick to re­mind every­one that it was “only April”.

How­ever, this dis­play and re- sult – the big­gest win­ning mar­gin in a league fi­nal since Gal­way lost to the same op­po­si­tion 38 years ago – has trans­formed the cham­pi­onship from a per­ceived pro­ces­sion to a far more en­tic­ing mad scram­ble.

At a loss

Tip­per­ary man­ager Michael Ryan was at a loss to ex­plain how his team, which in­cin­er­ated Wex­ford in 10 min­utes the pre­vi­ous week – the same Wex­ford that had beaten Gal­way to deny them pro­mo­tion ear­lier in the cam­paign – had fallen so flat.

It was he said, the “flat­test” dis­play the team had given dur­ing his two sea­sons to date in charge.

The un­de­ni­able strengths of Tip­per­ary were only vaguely dis­cernible. Their half backs, the core of the team, were hus­tled and pres­surised by Can­ning, Flynn and Joseph Cooney. The Ma­her broth­ers won their share of ball but the de­fence in gen­eral was prone to cough­ing up pos­ses­sion and the re­lent­less­ness of Gal­way’s har­ry­ing forced er­rors.

David Burke has been the most in­flu­en­tial cen­tre­fielder in big matches be­tween the coun­ties in re­cent years. That trend wasn’t dis­turbed as he went about his busi­ness as usual, well sup­ported by Johnny Coen, and Bren­dan Ma­her strug­gled to stay in their slip­stream.

At one stage in the sec­ond quar­ter, Gal­way won six Tip­per­ary puck-outs in suc­ces­sion.

Al­though Ryan said that the pro­posed dis­ci­plinary is­sue hang­ing over Ja­son Forde hadn’t been an is­sue for the team, he con­ceded that it might have had an im­pact on the player, who was so sub­dued he could ask the CHC to take the match into ac­count if they do hand down a sus­pen­sion.

But it was up front that things went most awry for Tip­per­ary.

John McGrath, men­ac­ing over the past year, was so re­duced by Gal­way’s high-en­ergy hound­ing of the striker out the field and the claus­tro­pho­bic at­ten­tions of Gal­way’s full backs – led by an ex­cel­lent Daithi Burke – that he re­lied on a de­flected shot in the fi­nal minute of in­jury time to register his first point from play.

Their half backs – Ai­dan Harte, es­pe­cially lively in get­ting up for two points dur­ing the match – bul­lied the Tipp half for­wards into mis­takes and in­ef­fec­tive­ness and Steven O’Brien, a moder­ately en­cour­ag­ing league be­hind him, was air­lifted out be­fore half-time.

Anx­ious start

It was un­char­act er i s t i c dead-ball lapses by McGrath that got Tipp off to an anx­ious start. Had the points gone over they might have ex­erted a bit more pres­sure on op­po­nents who took time to find their own range. Once they did, though, they took com­mand.

Gal­way were sim­ply too com­pet­i­tive. They didn’t al­low wides to dis­rupt them, kept cre­at­ing chances and, in the sec­ond quar­ter, be­gan to take them. Whe­lan sniped for a point, Flynn tore through and brought a fine save from Dar­ren Gleeson at the cost of a con­verted 65 by Can­ning, and when Tipp punc­tu­ated the gath­er­ing storm with a score of their own, their op­po­nents replied: Can­ning shoot­ing three in re­ply to Bren­dan Ma­her’s 24th-minute point.

At half-time it was 0-11 to 0-5 and as soon as the sec­ond half started, the con­test fin­ished. Flynn raced in on goal in the open­ing mo­ments of the sec­ond half to crack the ball past Gleeson.

There was still no let-up from Gal­way. Tip­per­ary eked out a score here and there but it was like hop­ing a bath­room leak would put out a fire.

Flynn all but waltzed in for an­other goal in the 57th minute, out-run­ning Michael Cahill on the left side­line and side-step­ping James Barry and in the 67th.

Cathal Man­nion, who had strug­gled with his shoot­ing, flew through the cen­tre and whipped in a fine goal on the run.

Patrick Ma­her got a run on his re­turn from army duty abroad but this mis­sion was ir­re­triev­able by the time he ar­rived.


Gal­way cap­tain David Burke with Pres­i­dent Michael D Hig­gins at the tro­phy pre­sen­ta­tion in Lim­er­ick yes­ter­day.


Gal­way’s Ja­son Flynn scores the first goal of the Al­lianz League fi­nal against Tip­per­ary at the Gaelic Grounds.

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