Tipperary hit Dublin early and often to advance to NHL final

Premier forwards make hay as game is finished as a contest in the first half


at Semple Stadium

If nothing else, this game was another poke in the eye for the notion that the ills of the hurling league will be solved next season by the introduction of quarter-finals. Tipperary came upon a roadblock set up by the best team in Division 1B and breezed through it as though it were made of nothing more than paper and tape. God alone knows what they’d have done to the fourth-best team, as next year’s structures will have them playing.

But they can only do what they can only do and they did it here with aplomb. They lanced Dublin with Tamany Hall efficiency – score early, score often. Shane Bourke had a goal on the board inside two minutes, Bonner Maher had another inside 10. By the 18th minute, every Tipp forward had scored from play and Dublin were like bulls in the mist. Lost, wandering, unsure of their footing. The guts of an hour to play and no earthly hope of finding a way back into the game.

“We stood off and if you stand off those lads you will be punished,” said Anthony Daly afterwards. “We would have done a heavy couple of weeks’ training. But ah, ’tis hard to put your finger on it now after watching that. You could be pointing to the difference between Division 1A and Division 1B and these things but the basics of going to the ball were the difference. Go out and trust yourself and go to it and if you make a mistake so what? But if you give Tipp lads three and four yards going out to the ball you will be punished and no better team than that team to punish you.”

He’s not wrong. There are times when this Tipp side look untouchable. You could be uncharitable and say that those times often coincide with their opposition’s inability to locate their own touch but even allowing for that, the scoreboard doesn’t roll on its own. Tipp shot from everywhere and at every opportunity here and still only finished the day with seven wides. Regardless of Dublin’s carefree approach to possession, 4-20 is a rollover jackpot of a tally to be putting up.

The Tipp scoring threat came from all points north of their defence. Jason Forde – the star of Nenagh CBS’s run to last year's schools All-Ireland – put their first point on the board after five minutes. He followed it up with three more over the course of the afternoon, including a sideline cut from out on the right that split the posts on the half hour. Eamonn O’Shea already has a well-stocked bar when it comes to forwards – this one didn’t feature any of Eoin Kelly, John O’Brien, John O’Dwyer or Brian O’Meara – but Forde couldn’t have done much more yesterday to advertise himself as being worth room in the fridge.

Séamus Callanan advanced his own claims. Though denied a goal by the elbow of Dublin goalkeeper Alan Nolan on 19 minutes, he cracked a couple of fine points before the half was out and cashed in what frees came his way. And when Tipp were awarded a penalty two minutes before the break – the ever-industrious Bonner Maher drawing his second yellow card of the half out of a Dublin full-back line that couldn’t handle him – it was Callanan who rifled the goal. Tipperary 3-11 Dublin 0-6. Game done, game dusted.

Rattled pride
The second half was a non-event really. Rattled pride drew performances from a few of the Dublin players, with Danny Sutcliffe and Shane Durkin unwilling to let the day pass without a contribution. Sutcliffe was especially belligerent and one second-half point was the score of the day, the young wing-forward breaching two hefty Tipp challenges before striking a glorious point on the run. But all it did was bring Dublin back to within 13 points and anyway Tipp cancelled it out 40 seconds later with an effortless score from Noel McGrath. So went the day.

Through it all, Lar Corbett was a slinky, willowy presence. Though he finished the match as the lowest scoring Tipp forward, their whole perpetual motion and slick interchanging game carried his stamp.

When at times they were guilty of overdoing the Total Hurling bit, it was only because some of the younger players seemed to be taking his lead without taking his care. If and when it all comes together someday, they will be a sight to behold.

“I wouldn’t be entirely happy with everything that went on there,” said a relaxed O’Shea afterwards. “But we’ve been training really well for the last eight weeks or so. You just look at it as a manager and think can you bring your training form onto the game. And the pleasing thing is that we’re evolving into being able to do that a bit.

“Every day is different, you can’t rest at all. You just try to get better. Some days it works, and some days it doesn’t. It’s okay today.”

Okay and plenty more. Whoever wants to stop them as the year goes on better bring their shooting boots.

TIPPERARY: B Cummins; P Stapleton, C O’Mahony, M Cahill; D Maher, Pádraic Maher, D Maher; N McGrath (0-3), S McGrath (0-1); J Forde (0-4, one sideline), L Corbett (0-1), Patrick Maher (1-0); S Bourke (1-1), S Callanan (1-7, goal pen, one 65, two frees), P Bourke (0-3). Subs: C O’Brien for Cahill (51 mins), J Woodlock for McGrath (57 mins), M Heffernan (1-0) for Corbett (59 mins), T Hamill for Pádraic Maher , T Hammersley for S Bourke (both 64 mins).
DUBLIN: A Nolan; P Kelly, P Schutte, R Trainor; M Carton, L Rushe, S Durkin (0-2); J Boland (0-1), S Lambert; C Keaney (0-1), J McCaffrey, D Sutcliffe (0-4); C McCormack, D O'Callaghan (0-2), D Treacy (0-3, one free). Subs: R O'Dwyer for Lambert (21 mins), P Ryan (0-4, three frees, one 65) for McCormack (24 mins), N Corcoran for Trainor (27 mins), N McMorrow for McCaffrey (53 mins), E Dillon for Treacy (62 mins).
Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).