Tipperary 2-19 Galway 2-18
Michael Ryan’s Tipperary are through to an All-Ireland SHC final meeting with champions Kilkenny on September 4.
As it was 12 months ago, just a single point separated Tipp and Galway at Croke Park this afternoon, but this time the Premier County came out on the right side of the result.
Galway suffered two desperate blows approaching half-time when Joe Canning and Adrian Tuohy were injured – and both players did not reappear for the second half.
Galway were nursing a two-point lead heading into the second half and battled gamely against the odds, having lost a pair of important stars.
But the introduction of John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer proved crucial for Tipperary and after scoring a goal nine minutes from home, John McGrath raised a second green flag for the winners two minutes later.
That two-goal blast in the space of three minutes would prove decisive and Tipp held firm down the home stretch.
Tipp’s Seamus Callanan, who scored 3-9 last year, hit nine points this time - all from placed balls - to finish as his side’s leading scorer.
Tipperary manager Michael Ryan was relieved to get over the line against a "quality Galway team." https://t.co/svXKkNxqPf— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) August 14, 2016
Conor Cooney was scorer-in-chief for Galway, collecting 1-6 on the day including a first half goal.
But this was Tipp’s day as they avenged last year’s last four loss to the Tribesmen, while also setting up a sixth final clash with Kilkenny since 2009 (including the 2014 replay between the sides).
At the break, Galway led by two points, 1-10 to 0-11, but there was a feeling that the game had not truly caught fire by then.
Unfortunately from a Galway perspective, two of their main players trudged towards the tunnel area with their afternoons over prematurely.
Canning, on the end of a ferocious hit from Pádraic Maher earlier in the game, appeared to pull his hamstring chasing possession towards the Cusack Stand side as the half drew to a close.
And Tuohy popped his shoulder while completing a clearance deep in his own half – leaving Galway short a player who had been picking up Noel McGrath from the start (Tuohy) and their marquee forward for the second half.
Galway struck for the only goal of the half in the seventh minute and it was a cracking effort.
Niall O’Meara was turned over running towards his own goal and when Johnny Coen picked out Conor Cooney, the St Thomas’s man cracked a 20m drive past Darren Gleeson, who was rooted to the spot.
Galway were two points clear – 1-03 to 0-04 – before Tipp hit five points on the trot to take control.
But back came Galway with six points in a row themselves – with Tipp scoreless from the 15th to 32nd minutes.
Galway were almost in for a second goal approaching the break, with Conor Cooney threatening again, but Pádraic Maher got back to execute a brilliant hook.
It was set up for a rip-roaring second half and they were level five times before Tipp managed to hold out.
John McGrath’s influence on proceedings was crucial. Big moments require big players to step up and after supplying the goal for O’Dwyer, he bagged one himself.
Micheál Donoghue was understandably downbeat following defeat, but proud of his Galway charges. https://t.co/xye8DPYIjn— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) August 14, 2016
But it was Galway who scored the opening goal of the second half, Joseph Cooney cracking home a fine effort in the 43rd minute.
Galway, to their credit, hung in grimly and while the absence of Canning was a factor, Tipp will feel they were due a rub of the green against their old rivals following last year’s heartbreak.
There were also big contributions from Noel McGrath and Michael Breen at various stages but Tipp’s work-rate up front was lacking in the first half and this is an area where they will need to improve.
Tipperary: D Gleeson; C Barrett, J Barry, M Cahill; S Kennedy, R Maher (0-01), Pádraic Maher (0-01); B Maher (0-01), M Breen (0-03); D McCormack, Patrick Maher, N McGrath (0-03); J McGrath (1-01), S Callanan (0-09, 8f, 1 65), N O’Meara.
Subs: J O’Dwyer (1-00) for O’Meara (45), J Forde for N McGrath (57), S Curran for Breen (68), T Hamill for Kennedy (70+2).
Galway: C Callanan; A Harte, Daithí Burke, J Hanbury; A Tuohy, P Mannion, G McInerney; David Burke (0-01), J Coen; C Mannion, J Cooney (1-01), J Canning (0-05, 3f, 1 65); J Flynn (0-02), C Whelan (0-02), C Cooney (1-06, 0-04f).
Subs: A Smith for Tuohy (h.t.), C Donnellan for Canning (h.t.), S Moloney (0-01) for Whelan (66), N Burke for C Mannion (66), D Collins for Harte (68).
Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath)