O'Neill hails Harte's fantastic finish
By John Harrington
Galway manager, Shane O’Neill, paid tribute to match-winner Aidan Harte after his team’s stirring All-Ireland SHC quarter-final victory over Tipperary this afternoon.
It was the corner-back’s 66th minute goal that proved to be the decisive score, and he showed a lot of courage to go for it as he had previously missed a couple of other scoring opportunities.
“It was a fantastic finish,” said O’Neil. “I think he had three chances that he didn't convert, but he's played in midfield and half-forwards at underage.
“He had a particular job to do today and he did it exceptionally well. He just happened to find himself in that position and it was a brilliant finish.
“It was an epic encounter. Nothing less was expected when Galway and Tipp play. You've seen the last few championship matches there was only a point in it and again just a puck of a ball effectively in it again. Delighted now to have a crack at next week as well.”
Galway trailed Tipperary by six points early in the second-half but O’Neill never felt the game was slipping away from his team.
“Not particularly, no. I think there wasn't going to much of a panic. The wind is strong enough when you're out in the middle of the pitch. We knew that if we just kept the scoreboard ticking over that we'd be there or there abouts.
“We felt that maybe we weren't as composed as we should have been in the first half but we were a lot more composed on the ball in the second half.”
Tipperary defender Cathal Barrett was red-carded on 52 minutes, and O’Neill admitted that his departure impacted the game as Joseph Cooney played the spare man role well.
“They normally do, but sometimes they go the other way. The way the game is gone with all the movement of forwards and backs and the whole lot, you saw Aidan Harte up in the full-forward line, it's just the way the game is gone.
“Sometimes that extra man can be nullified. I thought we were trying to get him on the ball and it worked out well.”
Galway advance to the All-Ireland semi-final where they will play O’Neill’s native Limerick next Sunday in Croke Park.
The big question is whether a third tough match in as many weekends will prove a step too far for this Galway team.
“It's about mental recovery more than anything else,” says O’Neill. “It'll be the third week on the trot which is tough. But the boys will be rearing to go again.
“The scale of the challenge is massive. They're coming with a week off first of all so they have that advantage whereas we're three weeks on the trot.
“Limerick have probably been the best team over the last three years in the country and play an unbelievable style of hurling. They're a very difficult side to play against but the boys will only relish it.”