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Monday 24 July 2017

The West's awake ...Tipp are asleep

GALWAY 3-21 TIPPERARY 0-14

Galway captain David Burke celebrates with supporters after theirAllianz HL Division 1 final victory over Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick. Pic: Sportsfile
Galway captain David Burke celebrates with supporters after theirAllianz HL Division 1 final victory over Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick. Pic: Sportsfile

May is the month for newspaper championship previews. All of which means that any eager-beaver reporters who were well ahead of schedule this year may suddenly need to bin their initial drafts.

Tipperary as two-in-a-row shoo-ins? On this evidence, keep walking when you pass the next bookies.

Just as well, for Tipp, that Galway boss Micheál Donoghue was peddling the "it's still only April" caveat in the wake of yesterday's Allianz Hurling League final at the Gaelic Grounds.

Not since 1979 (when, curiously, Tipperary bludgeoned Galway by 16 points) have we seen such a landslide result in a hurling league decider. Yesterday's scoreline - 3-21 to 0-14 - doesn't lie.

IMPLOSION

And, good and all as Galway were on the day, this was more a story of the All-Ireland champions' collective implosion.

The result itself was almost, but note quite, as shocking as Tipp's non-performance. "I'm nearly more disappointed for the supporters," said their manager, Michael Ryan.

"Like, that's not this team. It's the flattest performance we've ever produced and it's very disappointing that that comes on the day of a national final when there was silverware on offer.

"But look, it is what it is," he added, surmising that eight high-calibre NHL games in ten weeks "certainly seems to have taken its toll on us."

His charges have four weeks to get their house in order for a Munster opener against Cork in Thurles. Ger Cunningham's Dublin, meanwhile, have a week longer to concoct a plan to stifle a Galway team that reaffirmed its All-Ireland credentials by destroying Tipp in virtually every facet of the game.

The warning lights were flashing amber at half-time when the Tribesmen led by 0-11 to 0-5 - despite 11 first half wides, compared to Tipp's nine.

After an even first quarter they had upped the ante, devouring Darren Gleeson's puckout while physically lording it against Tipp's midfield, half-forwards and admittedly starved inside line.

Then, inside 50 seconds of the restart, Jason Flynn punched a big hole through the right flank of Ryan's defence before shooting high past Gleeson.

To describe the Premier's response as fitful would be charitable. Further goals followed from Flynn, who waltzed past Michael Cahill and then James Barry en route to scoring in the 57th minute; and then Cathal Mannion with a fizzing low effort ten minutes later.

While Flynn's 2-1 haul earned TG4's Man of the Match gong, to our mind Conor Whelan was the more obvious choice for his 0-5 from play and voracious hounding of Tipp defenders.

Likewise, Joe Canning had one of those days when he made the game look easy. His tally had soared to 0-9 (four from play) when his manager could afford himself the luxury of taking him off, the first Galway starter to leave the stage.

Says it all, really, about this hard-to-fathom mismatch.

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