All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Final:Tipperary 3-13; Galway 1-10
Who would have believed it? Tipperary are now through to an All-Ireland Senior Football semi-final for the first time since their harrowing defeat to Cavan in 1935 (as I chronicled here). While a narrow victory would have been a most pleasant result for the loyal supporters who travelled to Croke Park yesterday, the manner and margin of the win demands the use of superlatives.
Unsurprisingly, Tipperary started tentatively allowing Galway to build up a four-points lead. The blue and gold machine then got into gear, notching up 1-06 without reply. Galway rallied and, with the help of a powerfully-driven goal, reduced the margin to three points at half-time. The first ten minutes of the second-half decided the outcome when Tipperary produced two goals, coolly taken by the rangy Conor Sweeney from Ballyporeen. Tipperary didn't score for the last 19 minutes and Galway added a mere two points as the tempo of the game slackened greatly. The final whistle brought jubilant Tipperary supporters onto the pitch where they celebrated loudly with players and management for more than 20 minutes. While not taking anything from Tipperary's famous victory, the Galway team greatly under-performed. They seemed to freeze every time Tipperary scored a goal and, when they conceded the third goal, they gave up the ghost.
Prior to the game I felt that Tipperary had a lot of potential in the forward line, but I was fearful that their backs would be unable to cope with the Galway forwards who showed great potency in the replayed Connacht final. The backs stuck manfully to their task while the forwards displayed a wide range of skills with centre-half forward, Kevin O'Halloran, contributing nobly. Kevin, along with Philip Austin and George Hannigan, should be presented with special medals by the GAA in recognition of the standard they have achieved despite having to hone their skills in the football wilderness of North Tipperary.
Tipperary have produced many outstanding footballers down the years, but the teams lacked one essential ingredient and that is 'confidence'. This team has it in spades and, in the upcoming semi-final against Tyrone or Mayo, they should give it a real go.
The best of luck to them.