All-Ireland SHC final: west awake again as terrific Tribe topple Na Deise

September 03, 2017

Galway's Jason Flynn celebrates after scoring a point against Waterford.
©INPHO/James Crombie.

Galway are All-Ireland hurling champions for the first time in 29 years following a nail-biting 0-26 to 2-17 victory over Waterford at Croke Park.

With a full house of 82,300 in attendance, the Tribesmen captured their first Liam MacCarthy Cup since 1988 (and fifth in all), seeing off the dogged and determined resistance of a Na Deise side themselves attempting to bridge a gap twice as long.

In this novel decider, captain David Burke was immense for the winners (thudding over four points; two side of the break), as were Conor Cooney, Joe Canning, Gearoid McInerney and substitutes Niall Burke and Jason Flynn. But the team effort from the winners was ultimately the difference between success and failure as they simply refused to leave Dublin 3 empty-handed despite everything their gallant opponents threw at them.

Adding the All-Ireland title to the Leinster championship and national hurling league crowns plundered earlier this year, Galway have thus completed a marvellous clean sweep to bring the curtain down in considerable style on what has been a magnificent year for hurling.

The mighty men in maroon seemed to have the better of an absorbing opening period, clipping over a series of great points, but goals from Kevin Moran and Kieran Bennett ensured that the underdogs were just a point adrift at the short whistle, 0-14 to 2-7.

There was a late change to the Waterford XV, with the aforementioned Bennett replacing Darragh Lyons and the ever-dependable Moran reverting to midfield, while Galway started as selected. The Tribesmen made a dream start, notching four points in the first four minutes: Canning opened the scoring at the Davin End inside 20 seconds before Johnny Coen, Joseph Cooney and Cathal Mannion made it 0-4 to no score.

It was the shakiest of starts from Derek McGrath's men but their talismanic captain Moran collected a pass from fellow veteran Michael 'Brick' Walsh to plant a fourth-minute bullet to the bottom left corner of the net under Hill 16.

The Tribe ticked onwards with points from Conor Cooney and David Burke but back came the Suirsiders with scores of their own via the first of eleven from Pauric Mahony (free) and Moran before Mannion, Canning and Conor Cooney all registered their second points to make it 0-9 to 1-2 after 14 exhilarating minutes.

Galway captain David Burke lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup.
©INPHO/Ryan Byrne.

Waterford halved their deficit through Mahony and Walsh - an excellent point from beneath the Cusack Stand - and David Burke increased the gap before the sides were level for the first time in the 22nd minute when Kieran Bennett's long delivery deceived Colm Callanan and bounced all the way to the net with Shane Bennett lurking - 2-4 to 0-10!

The corner forward certainly got in Callanan's eye-line and - though failing to connect - his swing at the sliothar did enough to cause the goal; it was his last contribution as he departed the action through injury, making way for Maurice Shanahan.

Canning's delightful sideline cut from the Cusack side flew between the uprights and Whelan added a tremendous point from the same area on the run after a Mahony free had tied the scores up again. Conor Cooney pointed in the 32nd minute as the westerners moved two ahead once more but a brace from the brilliant Jamie Barron drew Waterford level again.

Canning's free deep into injury time at the end of the first half handed Micheal Donoghue's men the narrowest of interval leads.

Mahony's 38th-minute free had them level for the third time and Canning's fifth point (free) restored Galway's lead, only for Mahony to equalise from play following superb approach play from Barron. In the 43rd minute, Mahony's next converted free had Na Deise in front for the first time, 2-10 to 0-15.

Canning (free) and David Burke pointed either side of Mahony's seventh ... Mahony's fifth of the second half edged the men in white and blue back in front for the last time with 47 minutes played.

Substitute Niall Burke hammered over a brace as the Tribe recaptured the lead with 22 minutes remaining and a long-range Canning free cleared the bar handsomely at the Hill 16 end to leave two in it once more; David Burke struck the fourth consecutive Galway point but a wonderscore from Waterford substitute Brian O'Halloran ensured that the gap was just two as we passed the three-quarters stage of an epic encounter.

Mahony (free) and substitute Flynn exchanged points. Substitute Tommy Ryan demonstrated frightening pace before halving the deficit but quickfire points from Canning (from the softest of frees), Flynn and Conor Cooney propelled the victors into a four-point lead with seven minutes to play.

Mahony's 69th-minute free potentially left a solitary score between the teams and he then pointed his eleventh score in injury time after Canning had converted a free on the stroke of 70 minutes.

Galway held on in a riveting finale to deservedly return to the winners' enclosure.

Galway - C Callanan; A Tuohy, Daithi Burke, J Hanbury; P Mannion, G McInerney, A Harte; J Coen (0-1), David Burke (0-4); J Cooney (0-2), J Canning (0-9, 6f, 1sl), J Glynn; C Whelan (0-1), C Cooney (0-3), C Mannion (0-2). Subs: N Burke (0-2) for J Glynn, J Flynn (0-2) for C Mannion, S Maloney for David Burke.

Waterford - S O'Keeffe; S Fives, B Coughlan, N Connors; K Bennett (1-0), T de Burca, Philip Mahony; J Barron (0-2), K Moran (1-1); D Fives, A Gleeson, Pauric Mahony (0-11, 8f); Shane Bennett, M Walsh (0-1), J Dillon. Subs: M Shanahan for Shane Bennett, B O'Halloran (0-1) for J Dillon, T Ryan (0-1) for M Walsh, C Dunford for J Barron, P Curran for K Bennett.

Referee - F Horgan.

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