Tipperary's pedigree gives them the edge
ALL-IRELAND MHC FINAL TIPPERARY V DUBLIN: Venue: Croke Park, Throw-in: 1.15, On TV: TV3, 3e:JUDGING BY the standards of both semi-finals (granted, Dublin struggled at times against Clare) and general underage progress by both counties, a fine Electric Ireland All-Ireland minor final looks in store.
The bookmakers disagree, with Dublin an enticing 3 to 1.
There are subplots and strong hurling names scattered all over the field.
Two in particular draw blades side by side for throw-in. Noel McGrath’s brother John looks the best teenage hurler in the country. Cormac Costello, son of Dublin county board chief, John, will use every ounce of his powerful frame and deft touch to contest that assertion.
Costello was surprisingly on the losing side in the pair’s previous duel in last year’s minor football final.
He was subdued, by his high standards, against Clare so expect hell to be unleashed here.
They may not mark each other but the influence of these midfielders should have a large bearing on the final outcome.
At least Costello doesn’t have to worry about free-taking. Paul Winters has banked 3-32 this summer, 0-25 from placed balls.
McGrath’s current total is 1-25, 1-10 from the ground.
The two number sevens are also worth tracking. In Tipp’s impressive defeat of 14-man Galway Barry Heffernan produced some breathtaking hurling around the middle third until a man was deployed on his shoulder.
There was an epic point from miles out, similar to the Munster final effort against Clare.
Heffernan’s uncle John won an All-Ireland medal at corner back in 1989, but they say in Nenagh his elegant style is more similar to another uncle, Brian.
It’s essential for Dublin that Conor McHugh, or someone, immediately crowds him out.
Dublin’s Seán McClelland needs similar minding, although it is his natural ability to meet the sliotar in unmarked space that makes him so difficult to bottle up.
The contest will be decided out the field but ultimately won inside. Oisín O’Rorke is the third brother to act as an underage assassin for Dublin. His instinctively taken goals against Clare confirmed the pedigree.
But ball must be rapidly transferred inside for Dublin to threaten.
The same theory applies for Tipp corner forwards Stephen Cahill and Mark McCarthy to thrive. This pair have amassed 6-24 between them in four outings.
We could go on all day. It could be Caolán Conway or even Donal Gormley’s impact off the bench that tilts it Dublin’s way or Jack Shelly’s usual point-gathering might steer Tipp to a 19th title and first since 2007.
The Dublin famine dates back to 1965, when they won their fourth minor crown.
And what of influence from the line?
As noted by Gormley’s expected entry – one of four dual players, the others being Eric Lowndes, McHugh and Costello, due back in Croke Park for the football decider on September 23rd – Dublin manager Shay Boland has valid alternatives.
So does Willie Maher, a minor winner himself in 1996, with Seán Maher promoted to the team after clipping 0-2 on his arrival against Galway. It means Steven OBrien goes to full forward with Kevin Slattery making way.
Boland and Maher made decent attempts to talk the other up this week. They know each other well, of course, as Maher served as a selector for Boland’s Dublin minors in 2008.
“Dublin are the best team we have played this year,” said Maher. “We have played them three times, lost twice. Beat us comprehensively once. They were the only defeats we have had.
“At the start of the year we weren’t rated that highly. Clare were going for three in a row in Munster, Waterford had beaten us the last two or three times, Galway likewise and Dublin are the best underage team in the country.”
Boland has repeatedly talked about this year’s team being smaller than the group beaten by Galway in the 2011 decider, yet nine players who featured that day return tomorrow.
“Tipp are quite a big side and we wouldn’t be as big as last year,” said Boland. “There is a pedigree to Tipp that we wouldn’t have, so many players to pick from.
“Willie Maher has them moving very well as a team, they are well able to take scores and have a good defence.
“We are well able to match them in so many areas but we’ll need to do more than that if we are to have any chance.”
That sounds about right. Dublin must improve to win.
McGrath or Costello to dominate? Heffernan or McClelland? Tipperary or Dublin?
The form guide and Tipp’s spread of scorers indicates the wait for Dublin hurling to finally win a minor All-Ireland title will go on a little while longer.
DUBLIN:C MacGabhann (Kilmacud Crokes); S Barrett (Na Fianna), C O’Callaghan (Cuala), E Lowndes (St Peregrine’s); E O’Donnell (Whitehall Colmcille), R Murphy (Kilmacud Crokes), S McClelland (Lucan Sarsfields); C Costello (Whitehall Colmcille), C Cronin (Cuala); C McHugh (Na Fianna), S Treacy (Cuala), C Conway (Kilmacud Crokes); P Winters (St Brigid’s), C Boland (St Oliver Plunkett’s Eoghan Ruadh), O O’Rorke (Kilmacud Crokes).
TIPPERARY:P Maher (Moyne Templetuohy); R Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), M Breen (Ballina), J Peters (Kilruane MacDonaghs); T Fox (Éire Óg Annacarty Donohill), T Hamill (Killea), B Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg); B Maher (Kilsheelan Kilcash, capt), J McGrath (Loughmore Castleiney); S Maher (Clonoulty Rossmore), J Shelly (Mullinahone), T Gallagher (Kildangan); S Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields); S O’Brien (Ballina), M McCarthy (Toomevara).
Referee: C Lyons (Cork).
Tale Of The Tape: Dublin V Tipperary
Dublin and Tipperary meet in the All-Ireland minor hurling final for the first time since 1954, when Dublin won. It will be their sixth meeting overall in finals, with Dublin leading 3-2 from their previous five clashes.
Both teams arrive in the final as provincial champions and with Dublin seeking their first All-Ireland title since 1965, while Tipperary last won the crown in 2007.
Dublin are in the final for a second successive year, having lost to Galway last year.
Paths to the final
Leinster quarter-final: Dublin 4-24 Carlow 0-3
Leinster semi-final: Dublin 1-12 Kilkenny 0-10
Leinster final: Dublin 2-15 Wexford 1-14
All-Ireland semi-final: Dublin 4-14 Clare 2-17
Average For: 3-16;
Average Against: 1-11
Munster quarter-final: Tipperary 6-21 Kerry 0-11
Munster semi-final: Tipperary 2-25 Waterford 0-12
Munster final: Tipperary 1-16 Clare 1-12
All-Ireland semi-final: Tipperary 2-16 Galway 1-14
Average For: 3-19;
Average Against: 1-11
Previous Dublin-Tipp finals
1954: Dublin 2-7 Tipperary 2-3
1953: Tipperary 8-6 Dublin 3-6
1952: Tipperary 9-9 Dublin 2-3
1946: Dublin 1-6 Tipperary 0-7
1945: Dublin 3-14 Tipperary 4-6
All-Ireland Minor Hurling Roll of Honour
20 – Kilkenny (1931-35-36-50-60- 61-62-72-73-75-77-81-88-90-91-93-2002-2003-2008-2010)
18 – Cork (1928-37-38-39-41-51- 64-67-69-70-71-74-78-79-85-95-
18 – Tipperary (1930-32-33-34- 47-49-52-53-55-56-57-59-76-80-
9 – Galway (1983-92-94-99-2000- 2004-2005-2009-2011)
4 – Dublin (1945-46-54-65)
3 – Wexford (1963-66-68)
3 – Limerick (1940-58-84)
3 – Offaly (1986-87-89)
2 – Waterford (1929-48)
1 – Clare (1997)