After ending a 77-year gap from when they won their first All-Ireland at minor level in 2011, they are now ready for a maiden appearance in an Eirgrid U21 decider.
Dublin were the victims at O’Connor Park on Saturday, just as they were in Croke Park four years ago, and while there was only a two-point margin, they could have no complaints.
They will rue seven first-half wides with the wind but Tipperary defended well, with only Conor McHugh in the opening period causing them real discomfort. By the end, three of Dublin’s starting five attackers were replaced by Dessie Farrell.
The winners’ superiority had its platform at midfield however, where Steven O’Brien was fabulous in the air and on the turf, with Colin O’Riordan not far behind him.
“All the players were interested in was winning the game” said manager, Tommy Toomey afterwards. “If we failed at that, fine, but we go out to win. I think that’s the way to go about it. Believe in yourself and have a go and that’s what the boys did today. And it came right for us.
“We have very good defenders. All our drills that we do are based on tackling. First off, you have to be able to tackle, you have to be able to win the ball and our lads are good at that.
“This team moves along and keeps building momentum. Today was a fantastic game. They drew every inch out of themselves to win that match. There’s great credit due to all of the players, they never gave any kind of thought to being four or five points down. They just kept chipping the ball over the bar.
“Once the lads let go and really relaxed and enjoyed the game...I think that’s the big part with Tipperary today, players really enjoyed today. The pressure of winning and losing, we tried to take that away from them. That’s sport.”
Farrell described it as part of a learning curve for his players but felt that the lack of economy in their first-half shooting was critical, particularly given the midfield strength possessed by Tipperary.
“We could have done a bit more in the first half,” the Dublin boss admitted. “Then again, sometimes playing against a stiff breeze and the way we were playing it might have suited us. I just thought we were a bit lethargic and slow in getting at them when the opportunities to counter attack arose. We took too much out of the ball and we weren’t going at it with the punch we did on other occasions. Maybe ultimately that cost us because we didn’t penetrate the way we wanted to.
“We always knew (midfield) was a major platform for them. I think we did well at times and we tried a few things but in the last five or seven minutes they plucked out some big balls and won breaks which was crucial. Whatever chance we had we needed to be getting the breaking balls. They took one or two and got the scores.”
What was most impressive about Tipperary was their composure as they trailed by four points at half time (0-7 to 0-3), with McHugh the difference having kicked four himself, including three from play. He was forced to come deeper after the resumption though and his influence waned.
Shane Carthy stretched the advantage to five early in the second half but it was all Tipperary thereafter. Kevin O’Halloran and Josh Keane kicked their frees while the likes of O’Brien, O’Riordan and Jason Lonergan added scores from play.
They were actually two ahead by the 52nd minute but Dublin threw off the shackles and pegged the Premier boys back thanks to two converted placed balls by Costello.
Ross Mulcahy came forward to put Tipp ahead on the hour but back came Dublin, with an outstanding point with the outside of the right boot by sub, David Campbell.
O’Brien restored the Tipperary advantage in the second minute of injury time, having stolen into space to take a quick free from O’Riordan. And it was left to O’Halloran to land a 45m free as the game’s final act.
“It’s hard to get words around it,” mused Toomey. “We don’t beat Dublin every day of the week. We’re not expected to be beating Dublin every day of the week. We’re not a huge Division 1 (county) but we’re going up, we’re moving in the right direction.
“This is the type of players that we need to get Tipperary up there and these wins are vital to us.”
Scorers for Tipperary: K O’Halloran (0-4, 3 frees); J Keane (0-3, 2 frees); S O’Brien, C O’Riordan (0-2 each); R Mulcahy, L Casey, J Lonergan (0-1 each)
Dublin: C McHugh (1 free), C Costello (3 frees) (0-4 each); S Carthy (0-2); C Basquel, D Campbell (0-1 each)
TIPPERARY: E Comerford, K Fahey, J Feehan, C O’Shaughnessy, R Mulcahy, L Boland, B Maher, S O’Brien, C O’Riordan, J Lonergan, I Fahey, L Casey, K O’Halloran, J Keane, P Maher.
Sub: D McEnroe for P Maher (59)
DUBLIN: L Molloy, D Byrne, M Cahalane, R McGowan, A Farrell, E Lowndes, C Mullally, Stephen Cunningham, S Carthy, N Scully, A Foley, E Murchan, C Costello, C McHugh, C Basquel.
Subs: Shane Cunningham for Stephen Cunningham (26); S Clayton for Foley (45); E Fletcher for Cahalane BC (50); A Byrne for Basquel (50), D Campbell for Scully (53)
Referee: J Henry (Mayo)