Tipperary 2-23 Dublin 0-16 A dead day in Thurles handed us a game of no particular mystery, a story that unfurled in a simple, uninterrupted arc. Tipperary scored early and kept scoring, Dublin panted away in their wake for most of it but were straining to keep sight of them well before the end.
There was no turning point, no crisis for Eamon O’Shea’s side to endure. The closest Dublin came to catching fire was a blocked Paul Ryan penalty in the second half that would have closed the gap to five points had it found the net. That it was Dublin’s only goal chance told its own tale.
Tipp had the heavier scoring power. John O’Dwyer finished with 2-2, making him the third different Tipp forward to top-score from play across their four games. A winning margin of 11 points felt more or less on the money.
“We’re very happy with the win,” said O’Shea. “It’s great to be in an All-Ireland semi-final with a chance. We won’t have much of a chance if we keep hurling like that. I was happy enough with the win but I don’t think both teams will be happy with the way they played. I don’t know what sort of match it was from your perspective but it didn’t look great to me. I think both teams were guilty of sloppiness at times.”
What we got instead was a curious game that creaked and groaned its way through a dog-day afternoon. The free count (28) wasn’t overly high, the wides (12) nothing to get too annoyed about. Yet it was generally unsatisfying stuff.
Dublin were staid and unthreatening from the start. Tipp sent Pádraic Maher to stand sentry over Conal Keaney at wing-forward and Shane McGrath put Alan McCrabbe in manacles. Both Tipp players had exceptional games. With Danny Sutcliffe operating out around the middle third as well, it meant that Dublin's best scoring options were operating too far from goal, far too often.
That’s a dead weight to carry against a Tipperary side that, whatever its sometime shortcomings, can usually be relied upon to post a hefty total. O’Shea’s forwards are capable of short, sharp bursts of scoring that Dublin can’t match.
The sides had only a point to separate them here after 15 minutes but Tipp were six ahead on 21. The margin was four on 31 minutes but eight on 36. All six Tipp forwards had scored from play before half-time; three of Dublin’s starting forwards were gone by the 40th minute. This was before either of Tipp’s goals had been scored.
They led 0-15 to 0-8 at half-time and although Dublin had the wind to come, you never felt they had the sail capable of catching it to the required effect. Keaney was anonymous, Ryan O’Dwyer likewise after a few early bursts of intensity.
The closest they came to making a day of it was that Paul Ryan penalty on 47 minutes. Liam Rushe – the one Dublin player who could take credit from the day – sent Ryan away with a pass down the right wing and when the half-time sub paddled a pass to Dotsy O’Callaghan,
hauled him to the floor.
The scorelinestood at 0-18 to 0-10 so a goal was all that could suffice. Ryan's shot had was weak, however, and Brendan Maher got his hurley to up push it away. Keaney had a great chance to finish but knocked it over the bar from a couple of yards out. And even though he followed up with fine score soon after, it was only a matter of time before Tipp pulled stumps.
John O'Dwyer did the needful four minutes later. James Woodlock sent Séamus Callanan in behind the Dublin half-back line with a lovely flick before Rushe could clear. Callanan's pass found O'Dwyer and although he had Noel McGrath inside if he'd really wanted to walk it into the net, he applied the finish himself. Game over.
Six minutes from time, O'Dwyer helped himself to a second when Bonner Maher's run through the middle of the Dublin defence ended with Alan Nolan batting a save right into the Tipp wing-forward's path. It was harsh enough on a Dublin defence that had never stopped trying, yet just as much as Tipp – and O'Dwyer – deserved all the same. DUBLIN: 1 Alan Nolan; 2 Shane Durkin, 3 Peter Kelly, 18 Niall Corcoran; 5 Stephen Hiney, 6 Liam Rushe (0-1, free), 7 Michael Carton; 9 Johnny McCaffrey (0-1), 14 Conal Keaney (0-2); 12 Ryan O'Dwyer (0-1), 11 Alan McCrabbe (0-5, all frees), 10 Danny Sutcliffe (0-1); 26 David Treacy (0-1), 20 Conor McCormack, 15 Colm Cronin. Subs: 13 David O'Callaghan (0-1) for McCormack (25 mins), 8 Joey Boland for Durkin (temp, 33-36 mins), 24 Paul Ryan (0-2, one 1 65) for Cronin (half-time), 21 Niall McMorrow for Sutcliffe (41 mins), Boland for McCrabbe (45 mins), 19 E Dillon (0-1) for Treacy (55 mins). TIPPERARY: 1 Darren Gleeson; 2 Paddy Stapleton, 3 Pádraic Maher, 7 Cathal Barrett; 5 Brendan Maher, 6 James Barry, 23 Shane McGrath (0-1); 8 Kieran Bergin, 9 James Woodlock (0-1); 10 Gearóid Ryan (0-3), 11 Patrick Maher (0-1), 12 John O'Dwyer (2-2, 0-1 free); 13 Noel McGrath (0-1), 14 Seamus Callanan (0-11, 0-7 frees, 0-2 65s), 15 Lar Corbett (0-2). Subs: 21 Denis Maher for Patrick Maher, (temp, 51-53 mins), Denis Maher for Noel McGrath (59 mins), 19 Jason Forde for Ryan (61 mins), 20 Eoin Kelly for Corbett (64 mins), 17 Shane Bourke (0-1) for Patrick Maher (68 mins), 26 Thomas Stapleton for Woodlock (70 mins). Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly)