By Daragh Ó Conchúir, O’Connor Park, Tullamore
Tipperary 0-14 Dublin 0-12
Tipperary showed tremendous composure to finish strongly and book their place in a first ever Eirgrid All-Ireland U21FC final.
They were patient too as they chipped away at the four-point interval deficit before scoring three of the last four points to seal it.
Dublin had the advantage of a very strong wind in the first half but still played with a sweeper and pulled further men behind the ball in a bid to counter Tipperary’s strong running game.
It was a tactic that did frustrate Tommy Toomey’s charges, though they didn’t help themselves by wasting three gilt-edged opportunities from frees and also dropping one excellent chance short.
Having said that, Dublin were even more wasteful with the elements and would have been very pleased with their half had they not clocked up seven wides.
Dublin were able to find the scores more easily though once they finally got going in the second quarter.
The excellent Conor McHugh kicked an early left-footed effort but there wasn’t another score until Conor O’Riordan chipped over from a tight angle after a good switch of play created some space.
McHugh and Colm Basquel hit back for Dublin and though Kevin O’Halloran responded from a free, further points from Cormac Costello and Shane Carthy pushed Dublin three points clear.
Josh Keane slotted a free in the 28th minute but there was still time for McHugh to bring his tally to four with a brace to make it 0-7 to 0-3 at half time.
Carthy quickly stretch the margin to five but Tipperary remained undeterred, with Steven O’Brien and O’Riordan playing major roles at midfield.
Slowly but surely they reeled Dublin in. Keane (free), O’Riordan and O’Brien had points before Liam Casey had a shot that beat goalie Lorcan Molloy but was finger-tipped over by retreating defender David Byrne.
Costello showed produced a brilliant flash of skill to halt the bleeding but it was momentary relief as Jason Lonergan drove over from 50m after a good move out of defence and Josh Keane equalised from a free after Martin Cahalane hauled down the rampaging, high-fielding O’Brien – earning a black card into the bargain.
Tipperary looked in total control now and a brace of O’Halloran points had them two clear by the 52nd minute.
Dublin showed tremendous character though and were level thanks to two purely-struck frees off the deck by Costello.
There was still time for drama. Ross Mulcahy came forward to put Tipp ahead on the hour before Dublin sub, David Campbell equalised with a sensational outside-of-the-boot effort.
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.
Scorers –Tipperary: K O’Halloran 0-4(3fs); J Keane 0-3(2fs); S O’Brien, C O’Riordan 0-2 each; R Mulcahy, L Casey, J Longergan 0-1 each
Dublin: C McHugh (1f), C Costello (3fs) 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 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)