Allianz HL Division 1A
Tipperary 1-24 Dublin 1-8
Just over 23 minutes into the action at Croke Park, a low-scoring game was tied at 0-4 apiece when Seamus Callanan picked up possession about 40m from Dublin’s goal.
A point seemed a certainty when Tipperary’s three-in-a-row All Star drew back his hurl but he turned away in disgust as his miscued effort skewed well right of the posts at the Hill 16 End.
Tipperary manager Michael Ryan perhaps had his star forward in mind when he noted afterwards that “quality, you’re not going to see a lot of that” on the second weekend of February.
Attitude is what the All- Ireland winning manager was after and he got that at least as Tipp, and Callanan, upped their efforts to essentially dominate the rest of the game and win comfortably.
In truth, it was all too easy for Tipp who, five months after beating Kilkenny to regain the MacCarthy Cup, wiped a young Dublin side out on their return to GAA headquarters.
Tipp led 0-11 to 0-6 at half-time and reeled off 1-10 without reply between the 39th and 58th minutes to put the game to bed.
“Do you learn a lot?” asked Ryan.
“You’re always learning about your own guys. But someone said to me it was about attitude and that really comes through in the hard weather in early season. That’s the greatest thing you’re really measuring at this time of the season: The application.”
The 16-point win after a faltering first 20 minutes or so has to be viewed in the context that Dublin were understrength.
Ger Cunningham had three minors from 2016 playing — Donal Burke, Cian O’Sullivan and Paddy Smyth — and just seven starters from the team that lost to Cork in the qualifiers last July.
Still, Tipp had just seven of their All-Ireland final team lining out too and couldn’t do much more than put on the display of hungry hurling that they did.
Padraic Maher set the tone with a lion-hearted display that climaxed with a terrific 53rd-minute point from long range after a great catch, an apparent sign that Tipp want to kick on in 2017.
“I certainly hope so because other than that, we’re all wasting our time and I may as well stop now,” said Ryan.
“Ah look, we have no history of kicking on after winning an All-Ireland.
“Row that back, we haven’t won a huge amount either so it’s a huge challenge, a great challenge for any bunch but we have to forget about that stuff too.
“There’s a lot of terms being put out there — ‘back to back’ and this stuff — but we’ve got to take the games as they come. Only two of our panel of 41 have National League medals so it’s a great target for us and we won’t look beyond that.”
Aidan McCormack ran Maher close for the man-of-the-match gong with five points from his corner-forward slot, all from play.
Jason Forde was lively too and clipped three points before his 55th-minute goal.
On the downside, Donagh Maher took a knock to the head and John O’Keeffe rolled his ankle, meaning that changes to the full-back line are likely for Sunday’s trip to Waterford.
There was little for Dublin supporters in the driving wind and rain to get too excited about.
Eoghan O’Donnell had a fine game at full-back, building on a promising 2016 campaign, but could only stem the tide for so long.
The ex-minors, all of whom featured heavily in the Bord na Móna Walsh Cup, found the going difficult and a testing evening ended with a 70th-minute red card for Shane Barrett.
All of which only increases the pressure on Cunningham whose close-season panel clear-out drew criticism from several ex-players.
“I think they’ve got to decide if that level of performance is good enough,” said Cunningham.
“It’s OK for us on the sideline to be saying it is or it isn’t but it’s about expectations for themselves, it’s about what they expect of themselves.
“Obviously that’s not good enough so they have to go away and reflect themselves, what went well for them and what went wrong and how they can learn from it.”
Dublin didn’t score a point from play in the second half and Cunningham would have liked to see O’Donnell’s urgency and quality at full-back reflected in attack.
“He’s been one of our leaders, he’s been outstanding,” said the Cork man.
“What we need to get is that level of performance in the forward line.
“When the ball goes up there it’s not sticking enough and we’re finding it hard to get scores.”
Scorers for Tipperary:
S. Callanan (0-8 frees); J. Forde (1-3); A. McCormack (0-5); P. Maher (0-2); T. Hamill, N. McGrath, K. Bergin, S. Curran, N. O’Meara, J. O’Dwyer (free) (0-1 each).
Scorers for Dublin:
E. Dillon (1-0); D. Burke (0-3 frees); N. McMorrow (0-2); O. O’Rorke, F. MacGib, C. Crummey (0-1 each).
D. Mooney; D. Maher, J. Barry, J. O’Keeffe; T. Hamill, R. Maher, P. Maher (c); B. Maher, K. Bergin; S. O’Brien, J. Forde, N. McGrath; J. O’Dwyer, S. Callanan, A. McCormack.
S. Kennedy for R Maher (BS 27-35), M. Cahill for O’Keeffe (49), S. Curran for O’Brien (52), N. O’Meara for Callanan (55), B. Heffernan for R. Maher (56), D. Quinn for P. Maher (59).
G. Maguire; S. Barrett, E. O’Donnell, P. Smyth; C. Crummey, L. Rushe (c), S. McGrath; B. Quinn, N. McMorrow; D. Fox, R. O’Dwyer, F. MacGib; O. O’Rorke, D. Burke, C. O’Sullivan.
J. Madden for McGrath (42), E. Dillon for O’Sullivan (46), R. McBride for Fox (49), C. Conway for O’Rorke (55), A. Quinn for MacGib (63).
P. O’Dwyer (Carlow).
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