One of those games where you need a second sheet of paper to record all the scores.
DUBLIN 0-20 TIPPERARY 2-25: In the first 20 minutes alone at Croke Park we had 20 points, a score a minute blitzkrieg that was as enjoyable as it was surprising with 8/1 underdogs Dublin leading 0-9 to 0-1 at one stage.
Normal service, and a more sedate pace, was eventually restored and the 11-point handicap that bookmakers placed on Tipperary was ultimately met as the favourites belatedly delivered.
It was far from straightforward though and for the first 15 minutes or so we wondered if a glorious payday had finally arrived after all of Pat Gilroy’s early hard work in Dublin.
But after scoring 10 points in the first 12 minutes, the scores quickly dried up for the hosts who only scored 10 more in the entire game, five of those coming from frees.
As for Tipp, they came roaring back into the game and outscored Dublin by a whopping 2-22 to 0-10 after the shaky start to set up a semi-final clash with Limerick.
The 2016 All-Ireland champions drew level by the 23rd minute and were ahead for the first time when John McGrath, who hit 1-4, slammed a 26th-minute goal.
That helped them to lead 1-15 to 0-14 at half-time and Dublin were just a speck in their rearview mirror throughout a one-sided second half.
That was despite being reduced to 14 men after Ronan Maher’s first-half injury time dismissal for a second yellow when he caught Ryan O’Dwyer with a high challenge.
“I have to temper our start by saying exactly how well Dublin started and, on balance, credit should go to them rather than us being flat,” said Tipperary manager Michael Ryan: “They were full value for the lead at that time and they really came at us. It was a desperate-looking scoreline at that stage.”
There was no doubt who was in control when Tipp finally found their stride though and the victory was wrapped up when Michael Breen fired their second goal 15 minutes from time, opening up a 10-point gap.
With Dublin clearly struggling, Ryan used the second-half to bring on rookies Paul Maher, Paul Shanahan and Willie Connors.
“Some of them in the 26 today have never been here in any other capacity than as a supporter,” continued Ryan. “It is important and I wouldn’t underestimate that aspect for us today.”
Tipp will play Limerick in the last four next weekend — seven weeks before the same two teams go head to head in the new look Munster championship at the Gaelic Grounds.
Ryan insisted that his players won’t be holding anything back or treating the league tie as a dress rehearsal.
“We’ll all have the same challenge come May, but this is the here and now and there is a league semi-final to be competed for,” he said. “The prize is to get to a final. We haven’t won the National League since 2008 and in last year’s final we gave a right poor account of ourselves and it is something that we’d like to play again, hopefully put right and give a better account.”
Dublin sign off on a league that yielded wins over Antrim and Laois with some promising patches of play against All-Ireland holders Galway and Tipp.
“We couldn’t be happy with the last 40 minutes, it wasn’t near where we wanted it to be,” said Gilroy. “The first 20 minutes were very close to what we wanted. We brought so much trouble on ourselves after that, it was hugely disappointing.
“Overall the league was great for us in terms of seeing so many players. We wanted to give as many as possible a reasonably good shot at it and we did that. We’ve learned a hell of a lot from it.
“Our ball retention has been a bit better as we’ve gone along, our work-rate has been better, although it slipped back a bit in the second half today.
“Our stats guys reckon that 12 of their scores came from straight mistakes by us. At this level you can’t do that.”
Dublin couldn’t put a foot wrong initially and had six different scorers as they breezed 0-9 to 0-1 clear.
They dropped back for the remainder of the half but it was still high-quality stuff with 1-29 registered between the sides in the 35 minutes or so.
Dublin only scored three second-half points from play as Tipp put their foot down and raced clear. Jason Forde added five more points, from frees and open play, while Breen hit an excellent goal after claiming possession from a ruck while on the run.
There was a brace of points from sub John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer too who kept the intensity levels high and celebrated both points by punching the air in delight.
PaperTalk GAA Show: Mayo survival, backing McBrearty, Wexford 'train on' and Cuala join annals
Scorers for Tipperary:
J. Forde (0-9, 7 frees); J. McGrath (1-4); M. Breen (1-0); C. Darcy, S. Curran, R. Maher & J. O’Dwyer (0-2 each); B. Heffernan, S. Kennedy, A. Flynn & Padraic Maher (0-1 each).
Scorers for Dublin:
D. Burke (0-7, 6 frees); D. Sutcliffe, P. Winters, C. Keaney (0-3 each); F. MacGib (0-2); S. Barrett & F. O Riain Broin (1 free) (0-1 each).
B. Hogan; A. Flynn, J Barry, M. Cahill; B. Heffernan, P. Maher, P. Feehan; S. Kennedy, R Maher; J. McGrath, B. McCarthy, S. Curran; M. Breen, J. Forde, C. Darcy.
J. O’Dwyer for Darcy (45); Paul Maher for Kennedy (66); P. Shanahan for Breen (68); T. Hamill for Feehan (70); W. Connors for McCarthy (72).
A. Nolan; P. Smyth, B. O’Carroll, E. O’Donnell; J. Madden, C. Crummey, S. Barrett; R. McBride, F MacGib; D. Burke, C. Keaney, D. Sutcliffe; P. Winters, R. O’Dwyer, R. Hayes.
F. Whitely for Hayes (h/t); R. Mahon for O’Dwyer (42); D. Kelly for Crummey (50); C. Costello for Winters (55); F. O Riain Broin for McBride (62).
S. Cleere (Kilkenny).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved