Allianz HL D1: Galway stage dramatic comeback
Allianz Hurling League Division One Group A
GALWAY 3-21 TIPPERARY 3-13
By Cian O'Connell at Pearse Stadium
As the wind howled furiously and rain spilled from a grim grey sky, the Galway roar became louder in Salthill.
A match on March 8 will never define a hurling year, but the locals sensed and saluted the passion that was being exhibited on the field.
Trailing by eight points on the cusp of half-time, Galway came thundering back after the restart to emerge convincing victors.
The opening period supplied glimpses of Tipperary’s abundant attacking talent as Liam Sheedy’s accomplished outfit ruthlessly exposed Galway initially.
Despite squandering a string of opportunities, illustrated by Tipp’s conversion rate of 3-7 from 17 shots, the Galway net was still rattled on three occasions.
That ultimately ensured the All Ireland champions departed at the break armed with a reasonable 3-7 to 0-9 advantage.
Playing into the teeth of a strong wind Galway were caught out badly in the third minute when John McGrath pounced to goal following an Alan Flynn delivery.
Galway’s response was gutsy with Evan Niland sharp from frees as the Tribesmen narrowed the deficit to 1-2 to 0-4 by the 17th minute.
Then Tipp struck again a sweet Jason Forde point was briskly followed by a McGrath major in the 21st minute.
There was little wrong with Galway’s attitude or application and once more they replied narrowing the gap, 2-4 to 0-8 six minutes before the break.
Unperturbed Tipperary reeled off 1-3 on the spin with a delicious 35th minute goal offering the 5, 750 attendance a reminder of the Blue and Gold flair.
Seamus Callanan’s crafty flick and Cian Darcy’s subsequent pass enabled Forde to drill a crisp shot into the back of the Galway net as Tipp went in seven ahead at the turnaround.
When the action recommenced the complexion of the match altered dramatically. Conor Whelan, who started in the half forward line, brought trademark honesty and enjoyed the switch inside.
Brian Concannon was also in splendid form, and Galway struck for a 42nd minute goal when Whelan supplied the comeback mission with an injection of hope.
Concannon remained a threat alongside Whelan’s nuisance value with Galway reducing the margin to the minimum, 3-9 to 1-14 by the 49th minute.
Tipperary registered three of the next four scores before Galway truly seized the initiative in impressive fashion.
That industrious Galway burst yielded 2-4 on the spin with Whelan’s 57th minute goal putting Galway in front for the first time.
Cathal Mannion’s subsequent goal five minutes from the end following a Niland pass sealed the deal as Shane O’Neill’s charges advanced to the knockout stages.
Next weekend’s quarter-final encounter against Wexford promises to be similarly interesting.
Scorers for Galway: Evan Niland 0-14 (13fs), Conor Whelan 2-0, Brian Concannon 0-4, Cathal Mannion 1-0, Conor Cooney, Johnny Coen, and Jason Flynn (sideline) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tipperary: Jason Forde 1-5 (2fs, 265s), John McGrath 2-1, Cian Darcy 0-2, Dillon Quirke, Michael Breen, Padraic Maher, Seamus Callanan, and Ronan Maher 0-1 each.
GALWAY: James Skehill; Darren Morrissey, Gearoid McInerney, Paul Killeen; Aidan Harte, Shane Cooney, Fintan Burke; Johnny Coen, Padraic Mannion; Cathal Mannion, Conor Whelan, Evan Niland; Jason Flynn, Conor Cooney, Brian Concannon.
Subs: Sean Loftus for Killeen (25), Adrian Tuohey for S Cooney (46), David Burke for P Mannion (56), Niall Burke for Flynn (56), Kevin Cooney for Concannon (67).
TIPPERARY: Brian Hogan; Paul Maher, Barry Heffernan, Alan Flynn; Seamus Kennedy, Ronan Maher, Padraic Maher; Noel McGrath, Ger Browne; Jason Forde, Seamus Callanan, Dillon Quirke; John McGrath, John O’Dwyer, Cian Darcy.
Subs: Sean O Brien for Paul Maher (48), Michael Breen for Browne (48), Paul Flynn for O’Dwyer (57), Dan McCormack for Quirke (59), Jerome Cahill for Darcy (69).
REFEREE: Johnny Murphy (Limerick).