Ryan delight as Premier edge thriller

Ryan delight as Premier edge thriller
TIPPERARY 2-20
GALWAY 2-18

T
LEVEL on no fewer than 14 occasions on an afternoon when the weather and the hurling presented a good impersonation of early summer, a richly satisfying contest at Semple Stadium finally swung Tipperary’s way in stoppage-time.

Late points by substitute Johnny Ryan and Noel McGrath (free) enabled Tipperary to take their first League points of the season from a game that was so finely balanced all day that Galway were desperately disappointed not to have taken something out of it.

Their supporters in the crowd of 4,951 weren’t enamoured with the performance of Cork referee Cathal McAllister, contending that many of the close calls went Tipperary’s way.

Galway selector Tom Helebert walked a diplomatic line on the subject afterwards.

“We felt one or two of the calls were, at best, marginal but we didn’t get them. We have to accept it and move on. When you’re trying to come from where we’re coming from and build a team, you need every break you can get,” he said.

Still, Galway could take plenty of positives from the manner in which their young team matched Tipperary in the majority of the key facets, with the notable exception of calmness under pressure.

DRIVING

Most of the Tipperary team have been driving in the fast lane for quite some time and are ultra-accomplished when it comes to manoeuvring around tight corners.

They did it on a number of occasions yesterday, starting early on after they found themselves 1-1 to 0-0 behind after three minutes.

Bernard Burke had fired Galway ahead in the first minute and 90 seconds later, James Regan raced through the centre of the Tipperary defence and beat Brendan Cummins with a crisp finish.

In between, James Skehill had made a brilliant save from Brian O’Meara while Cummins had to be at his vigilant best in the fifth minute to stop Bernard Burke from scoring a second Galway goal.

All that early drama set the scene for what developed into a cracking contest. The sides were level on six occasions in the first half, with Galway finishing the stronger. They scored three late points to lead by one (1-9 to 1-8) at half-time after Pa Bourke had put Tipperary two points clear with a goal in the 29th minute.

Tipperary were the more progressive side early in the second half, out-scoring their rivals by 1-3 (the goal came from Noel McGrath) in the opening seven minutes, but Galway’s response was emphatic and effective.

A Damien Hayes goal in the 45th minute reignited them and, from there to the finish, it was tight and tense as both sides worked extremely hard in every sector.

Tipperary led by three points after 54 minutes but Galway were back level on the hour mark and a point ahead a minute later.

Tipp twice moved ahead on the run-in but Galway drew level in the 69th minute when Conor Cooney, who took over the free-taking duties following Niall Burke’s departure, slotted a point from an acute angle.

A draw was looking likely but Johnny Ryan made an important contribution seconds after his arrival when he fired over a point and Noel McGrath closed out the scoring with a pointed free which Galway felt — with some justification it must be said — was a harsh decision against them.

Having beaten Dublin in the first round, a draw would have been a good result for Galway but a win was absolutely vital for Tipperary who had lost heavily to Kilkenny two weeks earlier.

Tipperary manager Declan Ryan attributed the win to a vast improvement in their ball-winning and usage.

“We got on the ball a bit handier today (than in the Kilkenny game) and we used it a lot better when we were in possession.

“We gave away a good number of frees so that’s something we can work on. Overall, the boys worked very hard all through so we can be happy from that point of view,” he said.

Nobody typified the work ethic more than midfielder Brendan Maher, who was a hugely influential figure. He had plenty of willing accomplices too on a day when Tipperary needed to be extremely sharp to wear down a new-look Galway side, which looks to be taking shape nicely.

“It was the sort of game we wanted, even if it wasn’t the result we wanted. We needed to be hard and competitive in the tackle and we were,” said Helebert.

“There was great honesty of effort out there. We have plenty to work on but that’s a positive in itself. Our fitness isn’t the same as the likes of Kilkenny and Tipperary, but we’re working on it. It will take time.”

One disappointment for Tipperary was the departure of Eoin Kelly with a hamstring injury one minute after his introduction as a sub for the second half. He had been involved in the play only once before being forced off and the full extent of the damage now remains to be seen.

It was the only downer for Tipperary on a day when they got their League ambitions back on target.

“There’s a long way to go in the League, but there are all sorts of possibilities out there. Our hurling has improved a lot over the last couple of weeks. Every game is a big game now. That’s the way it should be,” said Ryan.

Tipperary will be back in Semple Stadium next Sunday (against Waterford) while Galway must travel to Pairc Ui Chaoimh to take on Cork.

It’s a tough assignment for a squad that’s still very much in the formative stage, but the signs are encouraging and while they were disappointed by the circumstances of yesterday’s defeat, it will have taught them some valuable lessons.

Man of the Match: B Maher (Tipperary)

Scorers — Tipperary: P Bourke 1-6 (0-5f), N McGrath 1-3 (0-1f), J O’Neill, B Maher, S Bourke, J Woodlock 0-2 each, B O’Meara, C O’Mahony (1f), J Ryan 0-1 each.

Galway: N Burke 0-7 (7f), D Hayes 1-3, J Regan 1-2, C Cooney 0-3 (1f), B Burke 0-2, B Daly 0-1.

Tipperary — B Cummins 7; D Maher 7, P Curran 7, M Cahill 8; J O’Keeffe 6, C O’Mahony 7, P Maher 7; J Woodlock 7, B Maher 9; P Bourke 8, N McGrath 8, S McGrath 6; J O’Neill 7, B O’Meara 7, S Bourke 7. Subs: E Kelly for S McGrath (h-t), T Hammersley 7 for Kelly (36), J Ryan for P Bourke (70).

Galway — J Skehill 7; D Connolly 6, D Collins 7, G O’Halloran 7; N Donoghue 7, F Moore 7, J Cooney 6; D Burke 7, C Donnellan 6; C Cooney 7, N Burke 7, I Tannian 5; D Hayes 8, J Regan 8, B Burke 7. Subs: B Daly 7 for Tannian (28), J Coen 7 for J Cooney (30), P Gordon 6 for Donoghue (44), A Harte 6 for Donnellan (52), E Ryan for N Burke (65).

Ref — C McAllister (Cork).

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