TIPPERARY lived up to their billing as the best minor team in the country with a comprehensive dismissal of Dublin in a onesided cirtain-raiser at Croke Park on Sunday.
They did the damage with two goals in six first-half minutes and they were blows that Shay Boland's Dublin side would not recover from. Having managed just 1-2 from play in the drawn game, Tipp effectively had the game sewn up at half-time, enjoying a 2-10 to 0-5 advantage by then. Mark McCarthy bagged Tipp's first goal after nine minutes when he whipped home from a tight angle after losing control of possession under pressure from Robert Murphy and Shane Barrett.
And while Dublin steadied the ship with two quick-fire points from James Roche, the Dubs were cut open again when Tadhg Gallagher's searing pace took him clear to register their second goal and give them a 2-4 to 0-4 lead after 14 minutes. Tipp would outscore Dublin by 0-6 to 0-1 for the remainder of the half, a period that Boland acknowledged left his side in deep trouble. 'Tipperary just got the breaks early on and look, that's the way it is at minor, it's very hard to recover,' said the Dublin boss, whose two-year term as manager ended after the game. 'It's not like senior where you have maybe more time with them and a lot more experiences that fellas can learn from.
This is door-die every day you go out. We didn't have time to recover, Tipp were better on the day than us and we have no qualms about that.' Dublin got the first score on the restart when Cormac Costello pointed. It was the Whitehall youngster's first chance in what was his fifth All-Ireland final at the minor grade across hurling and football. But neither he nor the other Dublin dual players who featured (Eric Lowndes and Conor McHugh) after their football success a week ago, could exert enough influence to stem the growing Tipp tide, though Boland wasn't offering excuses. 'They're great young fellas, massive athletes.
They're as fit as fiddles,' he said of his dual players. 'It's more about getting up mentally. After winning, they were probably in a good space, but it is a bit difficult when they don't get a chance to hurl with you in that period. 'But, look, these are only small problems. We've just got to get over the line and keep doing what we're trying to do and some day we'll get the break.' John McGrath had his fingerprints on many of the good things Tipp did and punished every Dublin indiscretion within free-taking range, as Tipperary produced a remarkably efficient performance. They didn't hit a wide in the first half and worked up just three in the second 30 minutes.
At one stage, Tipp had opened up a 14-point advantage and an Oisin O'Rorke goal was merely consolation for Dublin. And boss William Maher revealed the remarkable effort his Tipp side put into this year, stating his side met on 185 occasions over the course of their campaign. 'I think our focus was more on the actual game of hurling this time,' said Maher. 'When you come into an All-Ireland final, it's difficult to control things outside of that. We controlled everything today, and the individual performances gave us a great platform for a good performance. 'But the hurlers we have in Tipp at the moment, underage, are fantastic. We're delighted with every one of them. We've a panel of 32, and they've done something like 185 training sessions.
'That's the effort that's gone in, we've left no stone unturned, and we're just delighted with what's happening.' Five Tipperary youngsters have collected medals in football and hurling in consecutive years. Captain Bill Maher, Dylan Fitzell, McGrath, Steven O'Brien and Colin O'Riordan have already enjoyed a decorated career and while they'll have to make a decision on which code they'd like to pursue, Maher was happy just to be a part of winning teams. 'There is some serious talent in Tipperary,' said the Kilsheelan-Kilcash youngster. 'I'm just lucky to be in with some fantastic players and long may it last. There is serious talent to come along in hurling and football and, with a bit of luck, that will come through at senior level in both codes and hopefully we'll get a few All-Irelands in the future.'