Flashback: 2017 All Ireland SHC Semi-Final - Galway v Tipperary
By Cian O’Connell
Ultimately, a year of sheer hard graft was on the line. Galway and Tipperary were deadlocked when Noel McGrath launched a dangerous delivery inside.
Daithí Burke expertly gathered before slipping a hand pass to Padraic Mannion. The Ahascragh-Fohenagh clubman was fouled. Mannion put the sliotar down, but Burke came thundering in. Joe Canning was summoned.
The match had entered the last minute of the allotted additional time.
Canning's free dropped short, but in the madness the sliotar still needed Darren Gleeson's attention. James Barry cleared the danger momentarily, but Johnny Coen was alert under the Cusack Stand.
Coen turned and fed Joe Canning, who stood a yard inside the sideline. The angle was awkward, the issue was delicately poised, but Canning had the craft to nail the chance.
Galway hit the front, a much coveted All Ireland final appearance was secured.
“What a fantastic score Joe Canning pulled off at the end,” Tipperary manager Michael Ryan reflected immediately after the remarkable conclusion. “It was fantastic. He is a heart-breaker. It is not his first time.
“I just thought we had worked really, really hard to tie it up. But, to be fair, when that opportunity fell to Joe Canning, he took it.
“It is harsh on any team to lose that kind of a match. This is the exact reverse of what happened last year. We beat them by a point. We lost by a point in 2015.”
In three gripping games at the penultimate stage Galway and Tipperary enthralled the nation. Drama was always on the agenda so a stroke of genius mattered deeply.
Galway boss Mícheál Donoghue acknowledged the remit was simple. Ensuring Canning was centrally involved counted for so much in a game of such fine margins.
“When he gets a ball in that position there is a good chance that it is going to go over,” Donoghue stated. "Big moments are defined by your big players. He really stood up to the mark.
A challenge for us was how do we get him into the game. In the first half it was bypassing him a bit. You want your big players on the ball.
“We moved him inside into the full forward line because there was a lot of ball going in, but it just seemed wherever he was the ball was not going.
“We brought him out to midfield, just to get him through the lines and get him into the game.”
That is precisely what Galway accomplished in the defining play of an absorbing match.
"It was another harrowing loss for Tipperary, who were searching to claim back to back national titles for the first time since 1965.
“I suppose I have the benefit of being around a long time lads and I’ve been on the receiving end of this quite a bit,” Upperchurch-Drombane clubman Ryan commented.
“You come and you do your best and that’s all you can do. Nobody knows the results of these games because other than that we wouldn’t be as passionate about it, it wouldn’t mean as much to any of us.
“Our boys put their lives and souls into this. They really, really did their best. You can only come up and do your best and it didn’t work out. We were beaten by a really, really good Galway team and that shouldn’t be any surprise to anybody. They are a quality side.
“We are no stranger to these tight games with Galway. I just thought they were really, really good here. So too were our guys. A great bunch of fellas. They tried so hard to stay in that game and get something out of it. It just wasn’t to be.”
For Galway, a glorious 2017 campaign culminated with David Burke raising the Liam MacCarthy Cup. In the dying embers of the Tipperary tussle, though, Donoghue felt a replay was a distinct possibility.
“I did, yeah,” Donoghue remarked. “I remember looking up at the clock at one stage in the second half and there was 64 minutes gone. I was just going, ‘Where did the time go?’
“Then the realisation that it was nip and tuck, that it was going to go down to the wire. Just delighted to go through.”