Listless Dubs shot down by O’Dwyer as Tipp set up semi
Tipperary 2-23 Dublin 0-16 – All-Ireland SHC quarter-final
The road to Croke Park was longer, the bends more scary and the checkpoints more numerous than Tipperary had anticipated, but they survived it all and are now booked in for an August 17 date in Dublin 3.
And as delighted Tipperary supporters drifted away from Semple Stadium yesterday, they were already in a state of high excitement at the prospect of an All-Ireland semi-final clash with Cork.
The rest of the hurling world too will be fascinated by a pairing which is brimming with a vast range of intriguing possibilities. Hopefully, it will deliver on its potential, unlike yesterday’s rather turgid affair where Tipperary’s basic efficiency took them way beyond anything Dublin could reach.
Dublin went into the game with one big question mark against them: could they regain the form which made them such an impressive force last year?
If so, they had a chance of unseating Tipperary; if not, they would be easily picked off. Unfortunately for them, the answer rested emphatically in the second category, subjecting them to a torrid afternoon.
For the second time in three championship outings, they failed to score a goal, finishing on a total of 0-16, which was never going to come anywhere close to being a winning number.
It was four points better than their Leinster final return against Kilkenny, but still way off the range required to win at this level. That’s especially the case against the likes of Tipperary, who have the capacity to rack up big scores against any opposition.
Tipperary have been prone to defensive lapses all season but looked extremely comfortable yesterday. Then again, they were up against a Dublin attack that never generated a consistent rhythm.
Anthony Daly said before the game every effort had been made to sort out the difficulties which afflicted Dublin in the Leinster final, but that there was no way of knowing if it would work until the action began.
It didn’t take long to show that Dublin’s problem-solving system had misfired. For while they matched Tipperary for the first quarter, they always looked like a side that was using a lot more energy than their opponents to cover the same ground.
Once Tipperary injected real pace into their game, they powered away from Dublin, shooting five unanswered points between the 17th and 24th minutes to open up a six-point lead.
Given that Tipperary were playing with the wind, it may not have looked a match-winning advantage, but since Dublin aren’t a goal-scoring side, it was difficult to see them mounting a revival.
Tipp were seven points ahead (0-15 to 0-8) at half-time, by which stage Dublin had already begun repair work in attack, sending David ‘Dotsy’ O’Callaghan in for Conor McCormack in the 25th minute.
Colm Cronin was withdrawn at half-time and Danny Sutcliffe was replaced six minutes into the second half, having earlier taken a heavy knock.
Alan McCrabbe and David Treacy were later replaced, leaving John McCaffrey, Conal Keaney and Ryan O’Dwyer as the three survivors from the eight who started in midfield and attack. That Daly deemed it necessary to make so many adjustments in those sectors underlines the extent of Dublin’s problems, but, then, much the same applied against Kilkenny a few weeks earlier.
In contrast, Eamon O’Shea didn’t look to his bench until the 58th minute, by which stage Tipperary were seven points ahead and in control.
Dublin’s best spell was between the 46th and 52nd minutes when, backed by the wind, they shot three unanswered points, cutting the deficit to six. And with the wind freshening further ahead of a heavy shower, Dublin looked to be building real momentum. They had a big chance to make a significant breakthrough in the 48th minute when O’Callaghan was fouled in the square, but Paul Ryan’s penalty drive was saved.
And while Conal Keaney pointed from the rebound, Dublin badly needed a goal to present Tipperary with a real challenge. Four minutes later, Tipp pounced for their first goal, finished by John O’Dwyer.
There was no way back for Dublin after that and, as Tipperary grew in authority, they added a further 1-5, the second goal also coming from from O’Dwyer (63 minutes) after a drive by Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher had been saved by Alan Nolan.
It took O’Dwyer’s total to 2-2 on a day when all of Tipperary’s starting forwards scored. And while Bonner scored only one point, it in no way reflects his contribution to the cause.
He is a hugely important figure in Tipperary’s attacking structure, underpinning his game with a high work rate and and a willingness to take on opponents at every opportunity.
Gearóid Ryan had a productive day in attack too, while Woodlock and Shane McGrath, a pre-match replacement for the injured Michael Cahill, won the midfield battle.
Cahill’s absence from left full-back triggered changes in three lines, with McGrath coming in at midfield, Kieran Bergin dropping back to No 5 and Cathal Barrett slotting in at No 4.
It all worked well for Tipperary against a Dublin attack which was frequently let down by sloppy passing and poor ball control. Dublin needed to get the fundamentals right to have any chance of reaching the semi-final for a second successive year but, instead, they made a whole series of errors which gradually drained their confidence levels.
As for Tipperary, much has changed since they left Semple Stadium in early June after losing to Limerick. Wins over Galway, Offaly and Dublin, in the course of which they have scored a total of 10-73, leaves them well primed to take their case to Croke Park next month.
Their confidence levels are rising all the time and while there are still doubts about the defence, their high strike rate leaves some leeway for security lapses. Besides, the Cork defence has had its uneasy periods too this season, including in the Allianz League quarter-final clash with Tipperary, who scored 3-25 in a three-point win.
Sadly for Dublin, it was a disappointing season, certainly by comparison with last year when they won the Leinster title and pushed Cork all the way in the All-Ireland semi-final.
They never hurled with the same sense of power and adventure this year, finishing off with two desperately frustrating performances against Kilkenny and Tipperary.
Granted, the latter two are among the bigger beasts in the hurling jungle, but Dublin thought they had reached that level too. On the evidence of their last two games, they clearly haven’t.
Scorers: Tipperary: S Callanan 0-11 (0-7fs, 0-2 ’65’), J O’Dwyer 2-2, G Ryan 0-3, L Corbett 0-2, J Woodlock, Patrick Maher, S McGrath, N McGrath, S Bourke 0-1 each. Dublin: A McCrabbe 0-5fs, P Ryan (1f, 1 ’65), C Keaney 0-2 each, D Sutcliffe, J McCaffrey, D Treacy, R O’Dwyer, D O’Callaghan, E Dillon, L Rushe (f) 0-1 each.
Tipperary: D Gleeson 6; P Stapleton 7, J Barry 7, C Barrett 7; K Bergin 7, B Maher 7, Pádraic Maher 8; S McGrath 7, J Woodlock 7; G Ryan 7, Patrick Maher 9, N McGrath 6; J O’Dwyer 8, S Callanan 7, L Corbett 7. Subs: D Maher 6 for N McGrath (58), J Forde 6 for Ryan (61), E Kelly for Corbett (63), S Bourke for Patrick Maher (68), T Stapleton for Woodlock (70).
Dublin: A Nolan 6: N Corcoran 6, P Kelly 6, S Durkin 7; S Hiney 6, L Rushe 7, M Carton 7; A McCrabbe 6, J McCaffrey 6; C Keaney 7, D Sutcliffe 6, R O’Dwyer 5; D Treacy 5, C McCormack 5, C Cronin 5. Subs: D O’Callaghan 6 for McCormack (25), P Ryan 5 for Cronin (ht), M Schutte 5 for Sutcliffe (41), J Boland 6 for McCrabbe (45), E Dillon 6 for Treacy (55).
Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).