Jason Flynn netted twice as Galway eased to an emphatic 3-21 to 0-14 victory over tame Tipperary in a one-sided hurling league final at the Gaelic Grounds.
As well as Flynn (2-1), Joe Canning (0-9), Conor Whelan (0-5), Aidan Harte (0-2), Cathal Mannion (1-1), Gearoid McInerney and Daithi Burke were also outstanding for the Tribesmen, who delivered an impressive all-round team effort and won every battle on the Limerick pitch in front of 16,089 spectators, but the abiding memory from this contest will be the image of flying Flynn twice gliding through the porous Tipp defence in the second half to make the net ripple.
Without the talismanic Seamus Callanan, the All-Ireland champions were a pale shadow of their usual swashbuckling selves and the lack of a performance from them today will give heart to every team in contention for the 2017 Liam MacCarthy Cup. Most notably Galway, who are league winners now for the tenth time and first since 2010.
With Canning (0-6 before the interval) leading the way in the scoring stakes, Galway dominated the first half and were full value for their six-point interval advantage, 0-11 to 0-5.
Forced to start without the injured Conor Cooney - who was replaced in the starting XV by Niall Burke - the winners led by the odd point from three after ten minutes thanks to scores from Harte, Whelan and Flynn, with John McGrath posting a couple of early frees for the Munster men. Noel McGrath had the sides level after 15 minutes but Canning quickly replied to leave the westerners ahead at the midway stage in the first half.
Darren Gleeson denied Flynn with his left knee after Whelan had doubled the difference and Canning made no mistake from the resultant '65' - 0-6 to 0-3 after 23 minutes. Canning replied to a Brendan Maher point and then converted a free to make it double scores again with seven minutes left in the first half, 0-8 to 0-4.
The gap went out to six thanks to Canning (another '65') and Whelan - with an inspirational fetch and finish - before Ronan Maher (long-range free) and Canning swapped points at the end of a one-sided first half which produced as many as 20 wides at either end (eleven from Galway).
Flynn batted the sliothar to the roof of the Tipp net in the second minute of the second half and Tipp replied with a Noel McGrath point. Midfielder Johnny Coen had his point cancelled out by John O'Dwyer before Harte his his second and Canning posted a free from close to the left sideline to make it a ten-point match after 45 minutes, 1-14 to 0-7.
Centre forward Michael Breen and centre back Maher hit the target for Tipp, who had introduced Patrick 'Bonnar' Maher, but Whelan and Canning replied in kind at the other end as the gap remained at ten. Canning and John McGrath traded frees and Breen hit his second for the losers 15 minutes from the end.
Man of the Match Flynn grabbed his second goal in the 57th minute, tearing through a non-existent Tipp defence to net via the exposed Gleeson and midfielder David Burke pointed from distance to leave 13 points between the teams. Cathal Mannion replied to another John McGrath free and McGrath (free) then cancelled out a great Whelan score.
Mannion planted the third goal in the bottom left corner of the Tipp net in the 67th minute and, in the end, Galway were full value for their 16-point success. 'Bonnar' Maher hit the winners' crossbar late on but their goal remained unbreached and it was left to substitute Thomas Monaghan to round off the scoring on a great day for Galway hurling.
After collecting the silverware, winning captain David Burke was not slow in cautioning Galway fans that it was "only the end of April" but this was nevertheless a sweet victory for Micheal Donoghue's men, who will defend the league crown from Division 1B in 2018. How's that for an anomaly?
Galway - C Callanan; A Tuohy, Daithi Burke, P Killeen; P Mannion, G McInerney, A Harte (0-2); J Coen (0-1), David Burke (0-1); J Flynn (2-1), J Canning (0-9, 3f, 2'65), J Cooney; C Whelan (0-5), C Mannion (1-1), N Burke. Subs: J Glynn for J Canning, J Hanbury for Daithi Burke, C Donnellan for N Burke, T Monaghan (0-1) for J Flynn, S Loftus for P Killeen.
Tipperary - D Gleeson; C Barrett, J Barry, M Cahill; S Kennedy, R Maher (0-2f), Padraic Maher; B Maher (0-1), J Forde; D McCormack, M Breen (0-2), S O'Brien; N McGrath (0-2), J O'Dwyer (0-1), J McGrath (0-6, 5f). Subs: N O'Meara for S O'Brien, Patrick Maher for J O'Dwyer, T Hamill for M Cahill, P Flynn for J Forde, D Quinn for N McGrath.
Referee - C Lyons.