Tipperary U-21s maintain their hold over Dublin

Underdogs come from five down to defeat holders and reach first All-Ireland final

Tipperary’s Bill Maher and Dublin’s Niall Scully contest a loose ball in the Munster champions’ two-point semi-final victory. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Tipperary 0-14 Dublin 0-12

It would have been an unlikely proposition not so long ago but Tommy Toomey has suggested his young Tipperary players now carry a psychological edge over the mighty Dublin.

For the second time in four years, and with several of the same players still involved, a Tipperary underage football team sent favourites Dublin out of the Championship.

In 2011, it was the All-Ireland minor final that Tipperary famously won while on Saturday they came good in similar circumstances, in the dying moments, to dump the holders out of the U-21 championship.


In the process, the Munster champions secured their maiden final place at the grade, against Tyrone on May 2nd.

They had man of the match Steven O’Brien and Kevin O’Halloran to thank for the injury-time points that sealed victory though the team’s generally foreboding presence where Dublin are concerned may have been as significant.

“Sometimes you get a clique of players and maybe Dublin have something about Tipperary, about playing them,” speculated Tipperary manager Toomey.

“I don’t know. Dublin I know will talk about that. All we were talking about all week was that we didn’t want to come up and just give them a good game, all the players were interested in was winning the game.

‘Believe in yourself’

“If we failed at that, fine, but we go out to win. I think that’s the right way to go about it, believe in yourself and have a go and that’s what the boys did.

“Look, it’s hard to get words around it. We don’t beat Dublin every day of the week. We’re not expected to be beating Dublin. We’re not a huge Division One team but we’re going up, we’re moving in the right direction and these are the type of players that we need to get Tipperary up there. These wins are vital for us.”

Five of the Tipperary side that started on Saturday lined out in the 2011 minor final while Jason Lonergan, a point scorer in Tullamore, was a sub four years ago.

Of those six players, five are also currently involved with the county’s senior team so the future looks bright.

‘Special group’

“We’ve played them [Dublin] twice and beaten them twice in competitive matches,” said Colin O’Riordan, the team’s captain and an All-Star nominee last year. “We’re trying to establish something here in Tipperary with football.

“We knew with this crop of players coming up all along that they had something. Stevie O’Brien said to me coming up on the bus, ‘this is a special group, we have to get to the final.’ I think that just hit home with me. I just feel like there’s something special with this group of players and it’s an honour to captain them.”

They did it the hard way though, coming from four down at half-time and five early in the second-half.

Crucially, by that stage Tipperary were aided by a strong wind and fought back to level terms twice before pushing on with those injury-time scores.

“The big thing for us in all the games is to make the opposition beatable,” said Toomey. “Get in the minds of the players and say, ‘look, these boys are human, they make mistakes, they let in goals, they let in points, they give you chances.’ That was our main thing, Dublin would give us chances. Dublin fought and fought but I thought there was only going to be one winner because of the attitude of the players.”

Defender Ross Mulcahy scored a vital late point and revealed Tipperary's lofty ambitions afterwards.

“A lot of us have Munster titles – now it’s about All-Irelands,” claimed Mulcahy.

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell, also in charge of the county's minor team in 2011, cut a forlorn figure.

“We’d be happy with the campaign all told,” said Farrell. “We’re disappointed now but that’s part of the learning curve.”

TIPPERARY: E Comerford; K Fahey, J Feehan, C O'Shaughnessy; R Mulcahy (0-1), L Boland, B Maher; S O'Brien (0-2), C O'Riordan (0-2); J Lonergan (0-1), I Fahey, L Casey (0-1); K O'Halloran (0-4, 3f), J Keane (0-3, 3f), P Maher.

Subs: D McEnroe for P Maher (59).

DUBLIN: L Molloy; D Byrne, M Cahalane, R McGowan; A Farrell, E Lowndes, C Mullally; Stephen Cunningham, S Carthy (0-2); N Scully, A Foley, E Murchan; C Basquel (0-1), C Costello (0-4, 3f), C McHugh (0-4, 1f).

Subs: Shane Cunningham for Stephen Cunningham (25), S Clayton for Foley (45), E Fletcher for Cahalane (49, B/C), A Byrne for Basquel (49), D Campbell (0-1) for Scully (52).

Referee: J Henry (Mayo).