Hurling and camogie

Loss of Seamus Callanan fails to Tipp the balance Galway's way in League showdown

John McGrath has plundered10 goals in his last nine games and weighed in with 5-21 during the League so far
Andy Watters

Allianz Hurling League Division One final: Tipperary v Galway (Sunday, the Gaelic Grounds, 3.30pm, live on TG4)

IT seems like five minutes ago that these familiar foes were fighting out the nail-biting Liam McCarthy Cup semi-final that eventual champions Tipp won by a single point.

A few months later and here they are paired together again. The prize on offer is not as sought after, but the levels of intensity will be up there with the August 2016 meeting for a showdown that is viewed by many as a dress rehearsal for the Championship clashes which could come later this year.

Tomorrow’s meeting is the 10th between these counties in a League decider and the first since 2008 when Tipp saw off the Tribesmen who went on to land the title two years later.

Michael Ryan's All-Ireland champions are chasing a record-extending 20th win in this competition and they topped Division 1A with three wins, a draw (against Kilkenny) and a loss to Cork from their five games. Since then they’ve seen off Offaly and Wexford (despite manager Davy Fitzgerald’s best efforts to give his side a gee-up).

Fitzgerald has bit banned for eight weeks for his one-man pitch invasion while Tipp’s Jason Forde has been hit with a two-game ban for his part in an altercation with the Wexford boss. He is expected to feature tomorrow, but Tipp will have to do without injured top scorer Seamus Callanan who has amassed 4-34 in seven games.

Callanan broke his thumb in the 5-18 to 1-19 win over Wexford and in his absence the scoring burden will fall on the broad shoulders of the McGrath brothers, John and Noel, who have been in fine form throughout the campaign – John (10 goals in his last nine games) has weighed in with 5-21, while Noel has hit 2-10 from play.

Meanwhile, Galway’s chief marksman has been the irrepressible Joe Canning who has landed 3-38, while Jason Flynn (2-21) and Conor Cooney (2-16) have provided consistent support.

Micheal Donoghue’s Tribesmen were favourites to emerge from Division 1B, but defeat at home to Wexford meant they finished second in the table and will operate in the second tier once again next year.

The Tribesmen, who are chasing their 10th League title, produced a thrilling comeback to see off Waterford at the quarter-final stage and last Sunday were comfortable winners over Limerick

Donoghue has admitted that getting to the League final has come as a welcome surprise.

“The way we looked at it was one game at a time,” he said.

“It's kind of funny that we are in a League final without having talked about it or addressed it.

“The whole aim for the League for us was going as far as we could while getting close to May 29 (the date of their Leinster quarter-final clash with Dublin).

“Now we have a really competitive game next week. The performance in the semi-final wouldn't be good enough for either Limerick or Galway, so there is a lot of work to do for the week, but look we're absolutely delighted to be there.”

Galway’s 10-point semi-final win will certainly give them confidence going into the Gaelic Grounds showdown but Tipp are flying too. They had 11 points to spare against Wexford (who beat Galway early in the Division 1B campaign) and, while the loss of Callanan is a leveller, even without him Tipperary have the firepower and the form at a higher level to land the title.

Paths to the final

Tipperary (Division 1A)

Tipperary 1-24 Dublin 1-8

Tipperary 1-18 Waterford 0-15

Tipperary 0-28 Clare 0-21

Tipperary 2-17 Kilkenny 3-14

Cork 0-26 Tipperary 3-16

Tipperary 4-28 Offaly 3-13 (quarter-final)

Tipperary 5-18 Wexford 1-19 (semi-final)

 

Galway (Division 1B)

Galway 6-23 Offaly 1-12 (1B)

Wexford 1-21 Galway 3-13 (1B)

Galway 3-31 Laois 1-11 (1B)

Galway 1-22 Kerry 0-12 (1B)

Galway 0-24 Limerick 1-18 (1B)

Galway 2-22 Waterford 2-19 (quarter-final)

Galway 1-21 Limerick 1-11 (semi-final)

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Hurling and camogie