Galway are into a first Allianz Hurling League final since 2010 after Conor Cooney’s second-half goal saw them past Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds.
Galway dominated for the most part, other than a bright start to the second-half from Limerick that closed the gap to three points. But after Cooney’s goal and five unanswered points Galway cruised to the final on a scoreline if 1-21 to 1-11.
Limerick hit 17 wides, a tally sure to annoy manager John Kiely ahead of their Munster championship semi-final against Clare in June.
Galway captain David Burke won the toss and elected to play with the advantage of the very strong wind in the first-half at the Gaelic Grounds and that decision helped his side to a 0-13 to 1-5 lead at the interval.
Like when the sides met at the same venue three weeks ago, there was a bite to the action as both teams showed great tenacity under the breaking ball, while the hits carried championship intent rather than national league politeness.
But even without the wind advantage Galway looked the better team as the points flowed from play easier than at the other end.
Two minutes in Cathal Mannion hoovered up a break off the post to score his first of three points from play before the break, while Shane Dowling responded with a free, Conor Cooney tapped over two excellent points to give Galway a 0-03 to 0-01 lead.
When the sides last met Joe Canning proved the difference between the sides with his 0-10 haul, but Declan Hannon put the shackles on him in the early stages, until he was forced from the field after 16 minutes.
His replacement Gavin O’Mahony brought some quality to the half-back line as the quality of ball into his forwards improved thereafter, although Canning then grew into the game.
By the time Hannon left Galway were 0-06 to 0-03 ahead as Padraic Mannion and Conor Whelan added points from play, but in the 20th minute Limerick’s revival was given a boost when William O’Donoghue kicked to the net after David Demspey’s clever pass sent him clear.
Galway’s response was controlled as Johnny Coen scored off Canning, before the Portumna man fired over two frees to restore Galway’s four-point lead.
A brilliant block form O’Mahony denied Canning a point on the half-hour mark and after an immediate counter attack drew a foul, Dowling added a point for the home side.
But that inspiration was fleeting for Limerick as Galway hit the last two points of the half as Canning added a free and an assist as Cathal Mannion gave Galway a five-point cushion.
Dowling missed his first free of the second-half as he struggled to judge the wind, but he hit a fine points from play a minute later to cut Galway’s advantage to four points.
But Canning added a free and David Burke hit his first of the game in the 46th minute as Galway edged further clear, only for three Limerick points in four minutes to give the home crowd some hope.
But 14 minutes from time the dream of a first league final title in 20 years disappeared when Conor Cooney crept inside the full-back line and batted past Nickie Quaid for the clincher.
Final score Galway 1-21 Limerick 1-11
Galway: C Callanan; Adrian Tuohy, J Hanbury, A Harte; P Mannion (0-01), G McInerney, Daithi Burke; J Coen (0-01), David Burke (c) (0-02); P Brehony, J Canning (0-07, 0-06f), J Cooney; C Whelan (0-02), C Mannion (0-03), C Cooney (1-04).
Subs used: T Monaghan (0-01) for Brehony (53), P Killeen for Hanbury (55), N Burke for J Cooney (63), J Flynn for Whelan (66), S Loftus for David Burke (68),
Limerick: N Quaid; R English, R McCarthy, M Casey; D Byrnes (0-01), D Hannon, S Hickey; A Dempsey, W O’Donoghue (1-00); S Dowling (0-05), D Dempsey (0-01), G Hegarty (0-01); C Lynch (0-01), K Hayes, G Mulcahy.
Subs used: G O’Mahony for Hannon (16 mins), S Finn for Hickey (38), B Nash (0-02) for Mulcahy (48), J Ryan for A Dempsey (53), J Fitzgibbon for D Dempsey (53),
Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow).
Two goals from Jason Flynn and another from Cathal Mannion were among the highlights as Galway turned on the style to crush Tipperary by 16 points in the Allianz HL Division 1 final at the Gaelic Grounds.
Micheal Donoghue’s side have had a fierce rivalry with the reigning All-Ireland champions in recent years, and they have clashed in the last two All-Ireland semi-finals, with a point separating them on both occasions.
Their last league encounter was a draw, and it was hard-fought opening quarter, until Galway hit their stride and took a 0-11 to 0-5 lead into half-time, thanks to six points from Joe Canning.
Flynn scored his and Galway’s first goal just one minute into the second-half and he added the second effort with 13 minutes remaining, before Mannion rammed home a third late on.
But if Galway had taken their chances they could have been out of touch at the end of a first-half, where they led by six points. Their forwards were dominant, as they normally are, but this time the backs were brilliant too.
Daithi Burke gave an awesome display at full-back, while Aidan Harte was similarly impressive sweeping up loose ball throughout the first-half.
Up front Conor Whelan was a constant menace, and Canning converted with ease. Flynn was also winning his personal battle but was guilty of missing a number of scoring opportunities.
In all Galway had 11 wides, to Tipperary’s nine, and Micheal Ryan’s men were reeling at the break. It was ferocious from the outset, with huge levels of intensity, and physicality which threatened to boil over at times.
Tipperary were in search of their 20th league crown, and first title in nine years, and scored first through a John McGrath free in the third minute. But Galway equalised through Harte, before Whelan opened his tally.
John McGrath scored his second free in the sixth minute, but then he missed a free and a 65 as Galway got on top.
Noel McGrath levelled things briefly but Galway hit three in a row, with Canning’s second point in the 23rd minute giving them a 0-06 to 0-03 lead.
Brendan Maher scored Tipperary’s first point in eight minutes before Galway assumed control again – they hit four in a row, with three from Canning to move six clear.
Ronan Maher slotted another important free, to keep Tipperary in touch, but Canning scored his sixth of the half just before the break and Galway led 0-11 to 0-05.
Flynn made amends on the resumption, and his speed created an opening that he exploited to blast to the roof of Darren Gleeson’s net in the 36th minute.
The teams traded scores after that, which meant Galway always had a healthy cushion on the score-board, and Canning continued to lead from the front. At the back Daithi Burke was immovable and Flynn’s goal in the 57th minute put the game beyond doubt.
The late re-introductions of Johnny Glynn and Cyril Donnellan were another plus, while Cathal Mannion the win with a third goal with three minutes left.
Final score: Galway 3-21 Tipperary 0-14
Galway: C Callanan; A Touhy, Daithi Burke, P Killeen; P Mannion, G McInerny, A Harte (0-02); J Coen (0-01), David Burke (0-01); J Flynn (2-01), J Canning (0-09, 0-03f, 0-02 65), J Cooney; C Whelan (0-05), C Mannion (1-01), N Burke.
Subs used: J Glynn for Canning (62), J Hanbury for Daithi Burke (66), C Donnellan for N Burke (68), T Monaghan (0-01) for Flynn (69), S Loftus for Killeen (71).
Tipperary: D Gleeson; C Barrett, J Barry, M Cahill; S Kennedy, R Maher (0-02, 0-02f), Padraic Maher; B Maher (0-01), J Forde; D McCormack, M Breen (0-02), S O’Brien; N McGrath (0-02), J O’Dwyer (0-01), J McGrath (0-06, 0-06f).
Subs used: N O’Meara for O’Brien (32), Patrick Maher for O’Dwyer (46), T Hamill for Cahill (60), P Flynn for Forde (60), D Quinn for N McGrath (67).
Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork).
Galway captain David Burke lifts the cup after the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final between Galway and Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
President Michael D Higgins with the Galway captain David Burke and Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Aogán Ó Fearghail after the Allianz Hurling League Final at Limerick. Photo by Joe Keane
Galway captain David Burke, left, and two goal hero Jason Flynn celebrate with the cup after the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Supermac's CEO Pat McDonagh and his wife Una, the Galway team sponsors with captain David Burke after the Allianz Hurling League Final. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile