Dublin 0-16 Tipperary 2-23
Talk of another revolutionary era in hurling has been feverish this past two summers, but Tipperary’s comfortable victory in yesterday’s second All-Ireland quarter-final has almost quelled the whiff of insurrection.
With Kilkenny and Cork holding the two provincial titles and already safely ensconced in the last four, it now falls to Limerick to uphold the sense of romance that has elevated this championship.
Wexford’s no-show may rank as the day’s most disappointing performance, but Dublin’s was nothing to crow about either. Far from it. This was a meek exit for a side that was talked about as potential All-Ireland champions in recent years.
Danny Sutcliffe put them into the lead with the game’s opening point, but they spent the rest of the 70 minutes choking on the fumes of their hosts.
This wasn’t quite the wretched display that coughed up their Leinster crown to Kilkenny, but it contained within it the same crippling flaws that did for them that day. Chief among the similarities was a strange, unexplainable weariness.
Anthony Daly had spoken hopefully about a reaction, a determination to put right the wrongs they perpetrated on themselves that last day, but this was a Dublin display lacking intensity, confidence and more basics besides.
Yet again their touch was poor and they gifted Tipp scores time after time through sloppy use of possession.
Like Wexford, though, Dublin were beaten by a team that displayed more appetite for the fray. Tipp outfought them and they outthought them as well with Eamon O’Shea’s musical chairs at the back proving the ideal tune.
The Tipperary manager played down the focus given to who plays full and centre-back for the blue and gold after a game when Pádraic Maher wore three but played wing-back and James Barry wore six but held the small square.
The resulting match-ups worked. Dublin started with Conal Keaney moved from full-forward to wing and David ‘Dotsie’ O’Callaghan left sitting on the bench despite wearing 15 on his back.
Straight away you wondered where the scores would come from.
In the end, Keaney was moved in towards the square and O’Callaghan was ushered on. The entire full-forward line that had started was replaced. Sutcliffe limping off just after half-time didn’t help matters up front either.
It’s against that backdrop that Tipp’s defensive solidity must be viewed, but the fact is that the Munster side’s back line have shipped considerable criticism this summer and they conceded just 16 points yesterday. And no goals. More you cannot reasonably ask.
With such foundations many an average team has flourished and Tipp, though not the finished article after their trio of qualifier wins since the provincial loss to Limerick here eight weeks ago, are far from average.
Not with someone like Shane McGrath producing as dominant a display in the middle of the park or a forward line as fearful as theirs can be. By half-time, all eight of their attackers and midfielders had found their target at least once.
Of the six starting forwards, John O’Dwyer has received less attention than any, yet the Killenaule man struck 2-2 with both goals coming after the break and the first of those, on 53 minutes, of particular note.
It epitomised Tipp at their most lethal: Denis Maher starting a move of startling swiftness, James Woodlock flicking a loose ball off the floor and past an advancing opponent for Seamus Callanan to serve the chance on a platter.
It was a goal perfect in execution and timing.
Dublin, for the first and only time, had begun to generate a sliver of momentum with three points on the spin. A frisson of excitement, absent from Semple Stadium all day, began to stir.
It was a spell that could have been even more rewarding had Paul Ryan’s penalty not been saved by Brendan Maher.
Then that from O’Dwyer. Bang. Game over.
How it would have gone otherwise? Well, who can tell? Tipp had taken the turn with a seven-point lead, but it was an advantage unbecoming of their dominance in that first-half and the wind that washed over their backs in decent enough strength.
That they held Dublin off for the final quarter and avoided a repeat of their demise against Limerick here at the start of June may be a sign of advancing maturity: an ability to learn from past mistakes.
Cork, in three weeks’ time, may tell us more about that.
Scorers for Dublin: A McCrabbe (0-5 frees); C Keaney, D Treacy, (both 0-2); P Ryan (0-2 frees); L Rushe (0-1 free); J McCaffrey, D Sutcliffe, R O’Dwyer, E Dillon (all 0-1).
Scorers for Tipperary: S Callanan (0-11, 7 frees, 2 ‘65’s); J O’Dwyer (2-2, 0-1 free); G Ryan (0-3); L Corbett (0-2); S McGrath, J Woodlock, Patrick Maher, N McGrath, S Bourke, (all 0-1).
Subs for Dublin: D O’Callaghan for McCormack (25); P Ryan for Cronin (half-time); N McMorrow for Sutcliffe (41); J Boland for McCrabbe (45); E Dillon for Treacy (53).
Subs for Tipperary: D Maher for N McGrath (59); J Forde for G Ryan (61); E Kelly for Corbett (64); S Bourke for Pádraic Maher (68); T Stapleton for Woodlock (70).
Dublin: A Nolan; N Corcoran, P Kelly, S Durkin; S Hiney, L Rushe, M Carton; A McCrabbe, J McCaffrey; C Keaney, D Sutcliffe, R O’Dwyer; C Cronin, C McCormack, D Treacy. Tipperary: D Gleeson; P Stapleton, J Barry, C Barrett; K Bergin, B Maher, Padraic Maher; S McGrath, J Woodlock; G Ryan, Patrick Maher, N McGrath; J O’Dwyer, S Callanan, L Corbett.
Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).
Dublin were finally engineering a modicum of momentum and intensity when, at five points adrift and 17 minutes to play, John O’Dwyer struck for the first of his two goals. Killer.
Talk of the town
The widespread disappointment with the day. The heavens opening towards the end of this one prompted the thousands of wavering spectators to call it quits long before the end.
Did that just happen?
Super piece of skill from Liam Rushe in the second-half when, with his hurley misplaced and opponents in tow, he raised the sliotar with the instep of both feet and handpassed away to a colleague. Majestic.
Best on show
Honourable mention for the heroic Liam Rushe, first of all. Shane McGrath and John O’Dwyer were just as worthy of praise but we’ll pulp for Brendan Maher who kept Conal Keaney quiet for most of the afternoon and more besides.
Eamon O’Shea mixed and matched his defenders, only one of whom started in their named position, and the results were positive with Dublin contained in attack and no goals conceded.
The man in black
Busy afternoon for Brian Gavin who called for nearly 30 frees, but not the kind of day to give a referee nightmares with its surprising lack of intensity.
Cork: a familiar foe for Tipperary, but their All-Ireland semi-final against the Munster champions will mark the first time these neighbours have come to grips with one another in Croke Park. Could be epic.
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