All-Ireland U21HC semi-final: Tipp defeat Tribe in Gaelic Grounds thriller

August 08, 2018

Jake Morris fires in a goal for Tipperary against Galway in the All-Ireland U21HC semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Tipperary are through to the 2018 All-Ireland U21 hurling final after beating Galway by 3-17 to 1-17 in a dramatic encounter in Limerick.

The winners finished the game with 14 men after having goalscorer Mark Kehoe dubiously dismissed in the third quarter, while Galway had two players - Brian Concannon and Cian Salmon - sent off.

Tipp will surely appeal Kehoe's straight red card in a bid to have the Kilsheelan-Kilcash ace freed to play in the final - their first since 2010 - as it was of the extremely harsh variety. They were ahead by ten points when the wing forward got his marching orders almost ten minutes after the restart and the Leinster champions battled back to within three, only for the excellent Ger Browne to finally end the match as a contest with a stunning third Premier County goal five minutes into injury time.

The winners will face Cork in the All-Ireland final on Saturday fortnight - a repeat of the Munster decider, which the Rebels won by 13 points at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on July 4th. Five weeks on from that embarrassing defeat, Tipperary looked like a completely different proposition tonight, although it must be noted that their opponents never really turned up until the game was already beyond them.

Galway's team bus broke down en route to the venue, resulting in throw-in being pushed back by 15 minutes, and Tony Ward's charges never got motoring in the first half (hitting nine wides before the break), Tipp finding themselves very much in the driving seat at the turnaround, leading by 2-13 to 0-9, with the Tribe also down to 14 men at that stage.

Kehoe netted the first goal of the game in the 26th minute and the lively Jake Morris bagged the second in the fourth minute of stoppage time at the end of the opening period, rifling to the net from an acute angle after Eanna Murphy had dealt with Kehoe's initial effort. Moments earlier, the losers had seen Concannon dismissed for poking Brian McGrath in the six pack with his hurl -  a straight red card which will rule the Killimordaly clubman out of contention for Galway's All-Ireland SHC final squad on Sunday week.

Morris opened the scoring with a brace of points in the second and third minutes after an Evan Niland free was hesitantly waved wide by an uncertain umpire. The Tribe had most of the early possession but registered four wides inside the opening four minutes and their confidence levels dropped subsequently.

Niland finally opened the westerners' account from a fifth-minute free but the Premier County replied through Cian Darcy and Robert Byrne. Tipp had made no fewer than five late changes to their starting XV, with goalkeeper Barry Hogan, Eoghan Connolly, Stephen Nolan, Byrne and Darcy all in from the start in place of injured netminder Ciaran Barrett, Cian Flanagan, Paddy Cadell, David Gleeson and Lyndon Fairbrother.

A second Niland free closed the gap to two but Darcy's second super point from play made it 0-5 to 0-2 with ten minutes played. After Niland and Morris swapped frees, midfielders Browne (2) and Sean Loftus - with Galway's first point from play in the 16th minute - traded points as the winners led by double scores, 0-8 to 0-4.

Full forwards Sean Bleahane and Morris (free) pointed at either end and Niland nailed another free before Kehoe saw his point cancelled out with interest by a pair of inspirational scores from Concannon and Andrew Greaney.

Five minutes from the break, however, Kehoe took a pass from Browne and despatched a terrific low drive to the bottom, far right corner of the net on the run, followed quickly by a Colin English point from midfield as Liam Cahill's men suddenly led by six points, 1-11 to 0-8.

Top scorer Morris converted frees either side of a second Concannon point and then brought his first-half tally to 1-6 after the latter was sent to the line for his ill-advised off-the-ball transgression.

Thomas Monaghan and his midfield foil Loftus slotted a couple of Galway points inside the opening eight minutes of the second half, but Morris cancelled those scores out with a brace in between.

Kehoe was harshly sent off in the tenth minute of the second half when his rough tackle on Murphy resulted in the Galway custodian striking himself in the face with his own hurl and having to be replaced by Darragh Gilligan. While it was unfortunate for Murphy, there was no intent and Kehoe should never have been red-carded for the challenge.

Galway substitutes Salmon and Jack Coyne replied to a lovely Tipp minor from wing back Dillon Quirke and Niland (free) supplied the losers' third unanswered point followed by an inspirational second Monaghan effort as they closed within seven.

Incredibly, the momentum was all Galway's now and it was game on when Jack Grealish's dangerous long delivery went all the way to the winners' net (with substitute Jack Canning making a nuisance of himself) eleven minutes from the end to close the gap to four, 2-16 to 1-15. Tipp were under intense pressure but captain English took the bull by the proverbial horns and powered forward to earn a free, which Morris tapped over to make it a five-point match with four minutes of normal time remaining.

Niland (free) hit the last score of the regulation 60 minutes but the men in maroon were handed renewed hope when it was learned that there would be seven minutes of injury time…

However, Galway's hopes effectively went up in smoke in the third added minute when Salmon foolishly reacted to winning a free in front of the posts by kicking Cadell in the privates - the free was lost and the Galway sub received a straight red card.

Monaghan nevertheless reduced the arrears to three points but Man of the Match Browne decisively doubled the difference on 65 minutes when he drilled a brilliant drive to the bottom left corner of the Galway net to close the scoring with perhaps the sweetest strike of an eventful night. Tipperary's night.

Tipperary - B Hogan; E Connolly, B McGrath, K O'Dwyer; P Campion, R Byrne (0-1), D Quirke (0-1); G Browne (1-2), S Nolan; C English (0-1), J Cahill, P Feehan; J Morris (1-9, 0-6f), M Kehoe (1-1), C Darcy (0-2). Subs: C Stakelum for S Nolan, P Cadell for E Connolly, D Gleeson for C Darcy, R McCormack for C English.

Galway - E Murphy; S Bannon, J Fitzpatrick, I O'Shea; F Burke, A Greaney (0-1), J Grealish (1-0); S Loftus (0-2), T Monaghan (0-3); C Fahy, P Foley, B Concannon (0-2); K Cooney, S Bleahene (0-1), E Niland (0-6f). Subs: C Salmon (0-1) for P Foley, D Morrissey for I O'Shea, J Coyne (0-1) for K Cooney, D Gilligan for E Murphy, J Canning for S Bleahene.

Referee - S Cleere.

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