Brendan Maher was one of the few Tipperary players to perform well in Sunday’s National Hurling League Final defeat by Galway.
Galway 3-21 Tipperary 0-14
They wore new shirts, which have a lighter shade of blue than their predecessors, and the unfamiliar look about Tipperary in Sunday’s Allianz National Hurling League Final extended to their performance, when they were trounced by Galway at Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds.
Manager Michael Ryan said he couldn’t explain where it all went wrong for the All-Ireland champions in what he described as the team’s worst performance since he took charge a year and-a-half ago.
For Tipp to lose was one thing, but this 16-points hammering is bound to raise questions about their ability to retain the McCarthy Cup once the serious business of the championship gets under way in four weeks time.
They were second best to Galway in all aspects of this final, in which they were searching for a first league title in nine years. Long before the final whistle sounded it was clear that they were on course to receive a sobering reality check.
There was much more energy and drive about Galway’s performance. The early exchanges were reasonably close, with the sides deadlocked at 0-3 each after 16 minutes.
A converted Joe Canning ’65, which his team had earned when Tipp goalie Darren Gleeson saved well from Jason Flynn, pushed The Tribesmen 3 points clear (0-6 to 0-3) by the 23rd minute.
And with the Tipp forwards making very little impression on the scoreboard and winning hardly any possession, while the backs had trouble keeping tabs on the spring-heeled Galway forwards, it was no surprise when Galway held a 0-11 to 0-5 advantage at the break.
Not even a minute of the second half had elapsed when Tipp’s task became all the more difficult, as Jason Flynn shot Galway’s first goal when Michael Cahill failed to gather the ball.
Galway were cruising when they led by 10 points after as many minutes of the second half. Points from Michael Breen and a Ronan Maher free hinted at a comeback when they cut the deficit to eight, but it failed to materialise.
Tipp struggled to make any real inroads into Galway’s lead and they were 9 points in arrears when Jason Flynn broke through Michael Cahill and James Barry to fire home the second goal. It was a score that, thirteen minutes from the end of normal time, convinced some Tipp supporters in the attendance of 16,089 that they had seen enough, as they made their way to the exits.
However the punishment didn’t end there, with Cathal Mannion rubbing further salt into the wounds by driving home a third Galway goal in the 67th minute.
Tipp pressed hard for a consolation goal but on a day when nothing went right for them ‘Bonner’ Maher, introduced as a substitute 11 minutes into the second half on his first appearance since last year’s All-Ireland Final, rattled a shot off the crossbar in additional time.
It was a day when only Brendan Maher and Michael Breen enhanced their reputations in what was a very flat performance by Tipperary, with just 5 of their 14 points coming from play.
All the best performers wore maroon shirts and Tipp had no answer to the pace, power and accuracy of Galway’s attack in which Jason Flynn, Conor Whelan and Joe Canning all played starring roles.
Elsewhere they had a fine performance from captain David Burke at midfield and a mean defence in which Daithi Burke, Gearoid McInerny and Aidan Harte were outstanding.
Tipperary – Darren Gleeson (Portroe), Cathal Barrett (Holycross/Ballycahill), James Barry (Upperchurch/Drombane), Michael Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields), Seamus Kennedy (St. Mary’s Clonmel), Ronan Maher (0-2 frees), Padraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields, captain), Brendan Maher (Borris-Ileigh 0-1), Jason Forde (Silvermines), Dan McCormack (Borris-Ileigh), Michael Breen (Ballina 0-2), Steven O’Brien (Ballina), Noel McGrath (Loughmore/Castleiney 0-2), John O’Dwyer (Killenaule 0-1 free) and John McGrath (Loughmore/Castleiney 0-6, 5 frees).
Substitutes – Niall O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonaghs) for Steven O’Brien (32 minutes), Patrick Maher (Lorrha-Dorrha) for John O’Dwyer (46 minutes), Tomas Hamill (Moyne/Templetuohy) for Michael Cahill (60 minutes), Paul Flynn (Kildangan) for Jason Forde (60 minutes) and Daire Quinn (Nenagh Eire Og) for Noel McGrath (66 minutes).
Galway – Colm Callanan, Adrian Tuohy, Daithi Burke, Paul Killeen, Padraic Mannion, Gearoid McInerny, Aidan Harte (0-2), Johnny Coen (0-1), David Burke (captain 0-1), Jason Flynn (2-1), Joe Canning (0-9, 4 frees and 1 ’65), Joseph Cooney, Conor Whelan (0-5), Cathal Mannion (1-1) and Niall Burke.
Substitutes – Matthew Donohoe for Joe Canning (62 minutes), John Hanbury for Daithi Burke (66 minutes), Conor Cooney for Niall Burke (68 minutes), Thomas Monaghan (0-1) for Jason Flynn (69 minutes) and Sean Loftus for Paul Killeen (71 minutes).
Referee – Colm Lyons (Cork).