Allianz Hurling League Division 1B
TIPPERARY 1-26 GALWAY 0-24
By Noel Dundon at FBD Semple Stadium
A goal and thirteen points from ace marksman Gearoid O'Connor helped Tipperary to a stirring victory over Galway in the Allianz National Hurling League at FBD Semple Stadium this afternoon.
The goal came from a penalty right at the very death after sub Conor Stakelum had been fouled and it was a much needed score from a Tipperary perspective as they found Galway to be a very resilient lot, coming from behind time and again and bringing the game to a two point one prior to O'Connor's penalty strike.
Both sides came into the game with a win under their belts - Tipperary having seen off Dublin in Parnell Park, while Galway had a big win over Westmeath. So, this clash was being billed as a real test of the sides and especially for the newcomers dotted in the starting fifteens.
It was also a big occasion for Galway selector Eamon O'Shea who was facing his native county and a side he guided to All-Ireland success for the second time only five years ago - his son Donal lined up at midfield for Galway and had a big impact on the game.
Though the day was good and dry, the going was heavy enough with persistent rain throughout the weekend leading to energy sapping underfoot conditions - use of the bench would prove vital as the match proceeded.
There would be 29 scores on the board by the half way mark with the hosts enjoying a 0-16 to 0-13 lead in what had been a very entertaining contest. But crucially Tipperary had lost both Jake Morris and Bryan O'Mara by the 20 minute mark at a time when they were leading by six points. And thereafter Galway hit eight of the next 12 scores to bring themselves right back into the match.
Tipp had raced into a 0-6 to 0-2 lead with Gearoid O'Connor as their chief protagonist - he finished the half with 0-8 to his name ( 7 frees) but they also had Willie Connors (2) Jake Morris, Alan Tynan propping up with points, whereas Galway's Conor Cooney, Tom Monaghan (2) and Donal O'Shea were on target.
O'Connor and Connors traded scores with Cianan Fanhy and Evan Niland, while Sean Kenneally had another for a Tipp side which threatened a goal on a number of occasions but did not deliver - Galway keeper Darach Fany saving well from Sean Ryan.
Galway were finding their feet though and they pointed through Niland (3), Conor Whelan, Gavin Lee and Conor Cooney to cut the deficit to two as half time approached. Tipp hit back though with Craig Morgan - their eighth scorer in the half - and O'Connor helping them to that three point interval margin - Conor Whelan producing a beautiful point from out near the sideline to complete the Tribesmen's tally.
The game was still very much in the melting pot at the break - all to play for.
Tipperary started the second half in a whirlwind and had five points from play without reply on the board inside seven minutes - Mark Kehoe getting three of those with Gearoid O'Connor getting the other two. Galway hit back and had five in a row themselves with Conor Cooney (2) and Evan Niland (3) points as the last quarter approached.
Gavin Lee had it down to two points and a grandstand finish was in the offing before Niland had the bare minimum between the sides with his 8th pont of the game.
Tipp needed a score and Conor Bowe provided it - their first in 19 minutes - but Galway had the game tied when Conor Cooney grabbed his fifth point from play and saw Sean Linnane add to it to make it 0-22 apiece.
O'Connor and Niland traded points but Tipp had three in succession from Seamus Kennedy and O'Connor, only to see Niland reduce the lead again.
The penalty was the deciding factor in what had been a rip roaring game and Tipp claimed their second set of points of the campaign much to the delight of their very sizeable support in the attendance.
Scorers for Tipperary: Gearoid O'Connor 1-13 ( 0-9 frees); Mark Kehoe 0-3; Conor Bowe, Willie Connors 0-2 each; Seamus Kennedy, Craig Morgan, John McGrath, Alan Tynan, Sean Kenneally and Jake Morris 0-1 each.
Scorers for Galway: Evan Niland 0-10 (0-9 frees); Conor Cooney 0-5, Gavin Lee, Tom Monaghan, Conor Whelan 0-2 each; Cianan Fahy, Donal O'Shea, Sean Linnane 0-1 each.
Tipperary: Barry Hogan, Craig Morgan, Ronan Maher, Michael Breen, Bryan O'Mara, Robert Byrne, Conor Bowe, Willie Connors, Seamus Kennedy, Gearoid O'Connor, John McGrath, Alan Tynan, Sean Kenneally, Jake Morris, Sean Ryan. Subs: Johnny Ryan for Bryan O'Mara; Mark Kehoe for Jake Morris; Billy Seymour for Sean Ryan; Darragh Stakelum for Alan Tynan; Conor Stakelum for Sean Kenneally.
Galway: Darach Fahy, Jack Grealish, TJ Brennan, Shane Cooney, Cianan Fahy, Padraic Mannion, Ronan Glennon, Donal O'Shea, Conor Cooney,Gavin Lee, Jason Flynn, John Cooney, Tom Monaghan, Conor Whelan, Evan Niland. Subs: Darren Morrissey for TJ Brennan; Daithi Burke for Sean Linnane; Sean Linnane for Shane Cooney; Jamie Ryan for John Cooney.
Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)