Sunday 25 September 2016

O'Brien shines as Tipp dig deep to shock Dubs

Tipperary 0-14 Dublin 0-12

Published 20/04/2015 | 02:30

Towering Tipperary midfielder Steven O’Brien is tackled by Dublin’s Stephen Cunningham during Saturday’s EirGrid All-Ireland U-21 football semi-final
Towering Tipperary midfielder Steven O’Brien is tackled by Dublin’s Stephen Cunningham during Saturday’s EirGrid All-Ireland U-21 football semi-final

Just after the break, it looked to be slipping away from Tipperary.

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Dublin extended their lead to 0-8 to 0-3 and seemed to be establishing a fluency to their play. The game hung in the balance. Another score or two for Dublin would have settled it.

The underdogs usually go away in those scenarios and take their pats on the back and leave with their heads held high. It'd be easy to say a handful of Tipp's players were emboldened by the memory of their 2011 All-Ireland minor final comeback against Dublin, but they simply kept plugging away. It paid dividends.

With 10 minutes to go, Tipp had grabbed the momentum. Davy Byrne had prevented a certain goal with a heroic block on the line but Martin Cahalane demonstrated the pressure they were under when he picked up a black card for a cynical pull. Josh Keane pointed the resultant free and the sides were level.

The teams were eyeball to eyeball now. They traded blows over for the rest of the game. At the end, Tipp were still standing.

Tommy Toomey's side went two up before Dublin pulled level. Ross Mulcahy looked like he had won it for Tipp on the brink of full time with a superb point but sub David Campbell bent over an even better score to bring us to the brink of extra-time.

This was Tipp's moment and it was fitting that it was their midfield powerhouses who combined to finally break Dublin. Tipp were awarded a free at midfield and the excellent Steven O'Brien crept forward.

Colin O'Riordan had the presence of mind to find his fellow midfielder and O'Brien pointed under pressure in injury-time. O'Halloran boomed over another free and the job was done. Dublin had been broken.

"The big thing for us in all games is to make the opposition beatable," Tipperary manager Tommy Toomey reflected.

"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 this week, that Dublin would give us chances. Dublin fought and fought, but I thought there was only going to be one winner because I knew the attitude of the players."

Dublin were left to rue missed chances. They had led by 0-7 to 0-3 at the break but might have been further ahead but for seven wides but Dubs boss Dessie Farrell wasn't making any excuses.

"We could have done a bit more in the first half. Then again, sometimes playing against a stiff breeze and the way we were playing it might have suited us," said the Dubs boss.

"I just thought we were a bit lethargic and slow in getting at them when the opportunities to counter-attack arose. We took too much out of the ball and we weren't going at it with the punch we did on other occasions. Maybe ultimately that cost us because we didn't penetrate the way we wanted to.

"We went a couple of points down and we had to go for it so you are going to be exposed at the back. We got level then and you would have thought the next kick-out and score is going to win the game and unfortunately it was Tipperary.

"They were deserving winners. We can have no qualms really."

That was the end of Farrell's run with the side he had been with all the way through and he hasn't made any decision on whether he'll return next year.

For Tipperary, they have just one more game. Ulster champions Tyrone await in the All-Ireland final.

It's a remarkable transformation of the county's fortunes and Toomey took a moment to reflect on the quantum leaps Tipperary football has taken in recent years.

"I'd have to give great respect and encouragement to the under-age structures in Tipperary that have brought these players on. If they weren't in place we wouldn't be here.

"That's what it's about. Down at the grassroots where the hard work needs to be done. Tipperary did that, they invested, and I would give great credit to the County Board for that.

"I wouldn't be talking about All-Irelands. We're moving up the line, there's no doubt about that. The 2011 operation won an All-Ireland and that was the first step.

"We're in an All-Ireland now and looking at that. That game has to be played. We're not used to winning All-Irelands, that's fine, but it'll be another experience for the players which is what we need."

SCORERS - Tipperary: K O'Halloran 0-4 (3f), J Keane 0-3 (3f), S O'Brien, C O'Riordan 0-2 each, R Mulcahy, J Lonergan, L Casey 0-1 each. Dublin: C McHugh (1f), C Costello (3f) 0-4 each, S Carthy 0-2, D Campbell, C Basquel 0-1.

DUBLIN - L Molloy; D Byrne, M Cahalane, R McGowan; A Farrell, E Lowndes, C Mulally; S Cunningham, S Carthy; N Scully, A Foley, C McHugh, C Costello, E Murchan, C Basquel SUBS: Shane Cunningham for Stephen Cunningham (24), S Clayton for Foley (45), E Fletcher for Cahalane (bc), A Byrne for Basquel (both 49), D Campbell for Scully (52).

TIPPERARY - E Comerford; K Fahey, J Feehan, C O'Shaughnessy; R Mulcahy, L Boland, B Maher; S O'Brien, C O'Riordan; J Lonergan, I Fahey, L Casey; K O'Halloran, J Keane, P Maher SUBS: D McEnroe for P Maher (59).

REF - J Henry (Mayo).

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