McGrath’s perfect 10 in Premier pushover

Tipperary 2-18 Dublin 1-11
John McGrath shot a perfect 10 points at Croke Park as Tipperary claimed a first All-Ireland minor title since 2007.

But it was heartache for Dublin who after coming so close to ending their 47-year trophy hoodoo are still awaiting their big breakthrough.

In truth, Dublin’s best chance of claiming a first win since 1965 was probably lost back on September 9 when they started so strongly but failed to see it out. They never quite got to grips with the Munster champions in yesterday’s replay.

Tipp, of course, will claim plenty of credit for shutting down Dublin’s midfield and forward lines. William Maher’s side were simply stunning in this area while, in attack, McGrath, younger brother of senior ace Noel, led the line expertly.

He shot eight of his 10 points from placed balls and gave a gargantuan display generally with two brilliant plays leading to back-to-back points for Tadhg Gallagher in the second half.

In the drawn game, the sharpshooter also hit 1-11 and has now scored an incredible 2-46 for the championship in total.

The Loughmore-Castleiney lad was ably assisted up front this time by goal scorers Mark McCarthy and Gallagher who were both excellent and finished with 1-2 apiece.

The duo outstripped their markers for pace in the first-half before unleashing powerful drives to the Dublin net. Tipp were a yard quicker than their opponents throughout and, in claiming their 19th minor title, are just one behind Kilkenny on the overall roll of honour.

And the fashion they did was in a return to business as usual for a side who had blitzed their way through to the final.

Dublin were the ones aiming to add the minor hurling title to the football crown won by the county seven days earlier. But, in the end, it was a number of Tipp players who ended up adding to their football medals of 2011.

Bill Maher, Dylan Fitzell, Steven O’Brien, McGrath and 16-year-old Colin O’Riordan were all on both sides.

Manager Maher said he also took a leaf out of football’s book, specifically the value of early goals in a game. He said he noted how Donegal profited from early strikes in the senior football final and instructed his players to go after them yesterday, which they did to fine effect.

McGrath hammered over three early frees before the goal rush began. McCarthy got their first after eight minutes when he took off on a solo run, dropped the ball but recovered superbly with a stinging volley to the net past Cian MacGabhann.

Their second net blaster arrived in the 15th minute and left them 2-4 to 0-4 clear. It was a similar goal too as Gallagher showed his marker, Shane Barrett, a clean pair of heels before unloading an unstoppable shot to the net.

By half time, Tipp had the margin out to 2-10 to 0-5 and the sense of a game slipping badly away from Dublin was strong. It was tough on Dublin who had four starters involved in that football game a week earlier.

Eric Lowndes, Conor McHugh, Cormac Costello and Donal Gormley were all part of Dessie Farrell’s victorious football panel and, in truth, didn’t come close to their best yesterday.

McHugh was taken off while Costello, man of the match in the football game and the drawn hurling decider, notched just a point from play.

It was rumoured beforehand he was carrying a knock into the game though manager Boland insisted his key man was fully fit.

It didn’t matter though. This is a Tipp side that has put up tallies of 6-21, 2-25 and 2-16 throughout the championship. They turned on the style at times again yesterday, McGrath stretching their lead to 12 points early in the second half.

Gallagher got his back to back points midway through the half while McCarthy volleyed over a stunning point at one stage.

There was a brief Dublin fight back when they struck for 1-3 without reply. Óisín O’Rorke grabbed the goal eight minutes from time when he got clear of the defence with a right to left solo run and hammered back across the goals.

But it was far too little, far too late and it was fitting that McGrath had the last say in the game, converting two more frees to take his tally into double figures by full-time.

Scorers for Tipperary: J McGrath 0-10 (7fs, 1 65), M McCarthy, T Gallagher 1-2 each, S Maher 0-2, S Cahill, B Maher 0-1 each.

Scorers for Dublin: P Winters 0-6fs, O O’Rorke 1-1, J Roche 0-2, C Costello, C O’Donnell 0-1 each.

Subs for Tipperary: S O’Brien for S Maher (52), S Ryan for Cahill (57), C Lanigan for Gallagher (59), J Loughnane for McCarthy (61).

Subs for Dublin: K O’Flynn for Murphy (ht), C Conway for McHugh (39), R Tierney for O’Callaghan (60), S Treacy for Roche (45).

Referee: A Kelly (Galway).



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