Dublin push Tipperary all the way


Tipperary 1-19 Dublin 0-18:THE MERE fact that it’s necessary to record that All-Ireland champions Tipperary deserved their win says a great deal about Dublin’s defiant performance. Coming into yesterday’s All-Ireland semi-final missing five potential starters, Anthony Daly’s team were patronised for the quality of their season to date and damned by faint expectations.

It took virtually the entire match for Tipp to establish a safe distance on the scoreboard and they progress to a third successive final against Kilkenny having been tested by the ferocity of the underdogs and in the knowledge that they will have to raise their game in the next couple of weeks.

Coming off a seven-goal demolition job in the Munster final, it wasn’t surprising that the champions appeared a little uneasy about the expectations created.

Two years ago Dublin’s footballers caved in after an early goal from Kerry icon Colm Cooper and yesterday it was the hurlers’ turn to look into the abyss in the opening exchanges.

Lar Corbett, reigning Hurler of the Year and scorer of 6-6 in the Munster championship, ghosted into the danger area in the third minute and after Peter Kelly obligingly fumbled possession, was on hand to touch the ball into the net and sound the alarm bells.

Dublin’s response was admirable but so was Kelly’s. Corbett helped himself to another three points on the Lucan man’s watch but 1-3 was as bad as it got and in the second half, Kelly gave a fearless display of catching and clearing – even getting up for a point of his own in the 69th minute.

It’s not the first time Daly has sent out a team emboldened to exceed expectations. In the face of a team averaging four goals a championship match in the past year, it was hardly surprising that he opted for the extra defender.

John McCaffrey stayed back for most of the match, although Dublin adopted more orthodox patterns in the closing stages when they were actually chasing scores that might have won the match.

The defensive effort was immense. Kelly aside, Niall Corcoran gave Eoin Kelly as hard an afternoon as he’s ever got and Paul Schutte kept John O’Brien scoreless. Joey Boland was back to his best form at centre back and he too hit an inspiring point to level the match in the eighth minute.

On either side, Michael Carton made life really uncomfortable for Tipp’s chief hewer of wood and drawer of water Patrick Maher and Shane Durkin played as well as he ever has for the county.

The downside of all of the defensive concentration was that the underpopulated full-forward line was stretched too thinly to be able to capitalise on some of the great, relieving clearances that were launched in the direction of Paul Ryan and Ryan O’Dwyer, whole-heartedly taking on his erstwhile team-mates, and Michael Cahill found himself the happy recipient of a fair bit of uncontested ball.

It took Dublin four minutes to cancel out Corbett’s goal. Points from Alan McCrabbe, Liam Rushe and a Paul Ryan free levelled the match and from then on in the game, Dublin posed a major challenge. Rushe and Conor McCormack played centrefield and their youthful energy put Shane McGrath and Gearóid Ryan under severe pressure.

Paul Ryan’s high-yield free taking was once more Dublin’s chief source of scores but he threw in a couple from play to finish with 0-9 and move clear at the top of the scoring charts for 2011 and, on 53 points, apparently safe from the danger of being caught by any of next month’s finalists (although that point is made advisedly in the case of Corbett).

Dublin’s attempts to add a goal were unavailing. McCrabbe’s poor cross was smartly intercepted by Pádraic Maher – having another outstanding match at wing back for Tipperary – and Paul Ryan’s optimistic pop at goal instead of taking the point provided an easy stop for Brendan Cummins, who yesterday broke Christy Ring’s championship appearance record of 65.

Before the break, Corbett set up Séamus Callanan for a goal chance but Maguire saved well.

Level at half-time, could Dublin maintain the effort and momentum?

Unsurprisingly the answer was ‘no’ but they still managed to push the contest all the way until the final bell. Their energies flagged and the crisp, perceptive passing that swiftly built attacking movement in the first half became a bit more ragged and made life harder for the forwards in their contest for the ball.

The primary reason Tipperary held steady and won was the class shown by their top performers. Noel McGrath had been relatively anonymous in the first half but came out after the break to score three points. Eoin Kelly calmly nailed three 65s and a free to keep the scoreboard moving.

Twice Dublin levelled again in the second half with Ryan frees but on both occasions Tipperary restored the lead immediately through Noel McGrath and a long-range shot from Pádraic Maher.

Dublin adopted a more orthodox line-out as the match entered its final phase.

Rushe went into full forward to try and apply his aerial power to grabbing a precious goal but Tipperary have conceded just one in the championship to date and held out again yesterday.

There were a couple of late raids on the goal deep in injury-time but by then Dublin trailed by four and Tipp’s lead was inviolable.

TIPPERARY: 1 B Cummins; 2 P Stapleton, 3 P Curran, 4 M Cahill; 5 J O’Keeffe, 6 C O’Mahony, 7 Pádraic Maher (0-2); 8 G Ryan (0-2), 9 S McGrath (0-1); 10 N McGrath (0-3, 0-1 sideline cut), 11 S Callanan (0-1), 12 Patrick Maher; 13 E Kelly (0-6, 0-3 65s, 0-2 frees), 14 J O’Brien, 15 L Corbett (1-3). Subs: 21 B Maher for Callanan (half-time), 17 P Bourke (0-1, free) for Patrick Maher (56 mins), 22 B O’Meara for Ryan (65 mins), 18 S Bourke for Kelly (70 mins), 23 J O’Neill for O’Brien (73 mins). Yellow card: O’Meara (73 mins).

DUBLIN: 1 G Maguire; 2 N Corcoran; 3 P Kelly (0-1), 4 P Schutte; 5 M Carton, 6 J Boland (0-1), 7 S Durkin; 10 C McCormack, 12 L Rushe (0-1); 13 D O’Callaghan (0-1), 14 L Ryan (0-1), 9 A McCrabbe (0-1); 8 J McCaffrey, 11 R O’Dwyer (0-1), 15 P Ryan (0-9, 0-6 frees, 0-1 65). Subs: 20 M O’Brien (0-1) for McCormack (half-time), 22 D Plunkett for McCrabbe (53 mins), 19 S Lambert for Schutte (63 mins), 23 S Ryan (0-1) for L Ryan (66 mins), 17 P Carton for Durkin (73 mins). Yellow card: McCormack (11 mins).

Referee: C McAllister (Cork).

Key moments

3rd minute: Peter Kelly gets to a dropping ball first but fumbles and Lar Corbett flicks it into the net for an ominous start for the outsiders. 1-0/0-0

7th minute: Paul Ryan’s first free of the match levels the scores as Dublin put the bad start behind them. 1-0/0-3

20th minute: Another free from Ryan pushes the lead to three, Dublin’s high point on the scoreboard. 1-3/0-9

33rd minute: Corbett lays off a pass to Séamus Callanan and his goal attempt is saved by Gary Maguire to keep the scores level at the interval. 1-8/0-11

36th minute: Instead of taking his score after a fine break, David O’Callaghan passes to Liam Ryan, who is well-covered by the defence and the chance to regain the lead immediately on the restart is lost. 1-8/0-11

49th minute: Immediately after Paul Ryan’s free has equalised the match for the second time in the second half, Pádraic Maher launches a long-range point to restore Tipperary’s lead, which they never subsequently lose. 1-13/0-15

50th minute: Paul Ryan is denied a 65 when the ball appears to go out off a defender. A point would have levelled the match. 1-13/0-15

73rd minute: Replacement Pa Bourke converts a free to give Tipperary a four-point lead and make redundant Dublin’s goal attempts in the dying seconds. 1-19/0-18