There has been a coolness personified about the Galway senior hurlers this year, more than any other in recent times, and this was not only reflected in their dramatic 0-22 to 1-18 victory over 2016 champions Tipperary but also in the manner in which the players carried themselves in the aftermath of this epic.
You would expect – and forgive – most players and teams if they were to be found surfing on the tidal wave of euphoria that followed the final whistle of last Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final – particularly given that moments earlier Joe Canning had struck a sublime wonder point that only he could have scored – but as the class of 2017 emerged from their dressing-room underneath the Hogan Stand, they were a picture of serenity.
The walk to the bus was not one of a group of players giddy with excitement but rather of a tight-knit unit that realise their negotiation of the All-Ireland series is far from done. The hardest step has yet to be taken. The step that takes the Tribesmen over the line to a first All-Ireland triumph since the halcyon days of the 1980s.
By the same token, captain David Burke was not playing down the nature of their victory over a Tipperary outfit that had proved superb champions in 2016. Having won by a point at the same stage in 2015, and lost by a similar margin in 2016, Burke wholly appreciated the feat Galway had achieved last Sunday.
“I really think it was mind over matter, and belief, and just a will to win that got us over the line,” he said afterwards. “You could see it in the body language of our players; they just wanted it that bit more in the last five to 10 minutes.
“The backs came out with some immense ball there and the way the boys worked the (winning) score from the sideline there – Johnny (Coen) having the whereabouts to fire it back to Joe (Canning) who put it over the bar for a super score. Guys like that win you semi-finals but we know (in terms of the Liam McCarthy Cup) there is nothing won yet.”
What made Sunday’s game even more incredible was that, as noted, for the third year running, only a point separated the two sides in an All-Ireland semi-final. As exhilarating as it can be to win a game in such a fashion, Burke acknowledged it also can be the cruellest way to lose one.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.