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Dubs pay for late mistake

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Anthony Daly. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Anthony Daly. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Anthony Daly. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

HERE'S how tight it was. With seconds remaining in Thurles yesterday, Dublin substitute Niall McMorrow took possession 45 metres out from Tipperary goal and well, well within his scoring range.

He opted, it seemed, to aim for Conal Keaney, standing near the edge of the Tipp square, in an apparent attempt to force a goal and the draw such an intervention would have granted.

Tipp's win would leave both themselves and Dublin on four points, along with Waterford, who were being butchered in Nowlan Park and thus already consigned to a relegation play-off.

Tipperary's scoring difference stood at -10. Ditto Dublin.

And so a point would have consigned Tipp, rather than Dublin, to the relegation duel.

McMorrow's ball was short, Keaney was beaten to the pass and Brian Gavin blew his final whistle.

Turns out, Tipp survived on the basis that they had scored more (17 points) over the course of their five games than Dublin.

"I suppose he was just thinking of the game and got caught up in that," reasoned Anthony Daly on McMorrow's behalf afterwards. "I think everyone knew the situation if Tipp won by three ... but I suppose that's the whole ebb and flow of the thing.

"It was a really good point chance but Niall had done some great work when he came on for us and set up a few things, so no blame to Niall.

"It's disappointing but what can you do? It's a mad league and I felt we hurled really well."

Far better, certainly, than their previous two away efforts in Salthill and Walsh Park.

Awkward

And at one stage in the first half, Dublin stood six points taller than Tipperary and looked for all the money in the world like they might just make it an awkward afternoon for a Tipp team disporting themselves to the background noise of native restlessness.

Alan McCrabbe was, in keeping with a theme this spring, utterly brilliant in those first 20 minutes, hitting six points, two from play, and setting up another for Danny Sutcliffe.

Dublin had Colm Cronin roving around the middle and played for large parts with Sutcliffe and 'Dotsy' O'Callaghan in a two-man full-forward line for the most part, it worked.

Tipp, meanwhile, were lumping every puckout long and high over the horizon and had Dublin been a bit sharper under the dropping ball, they would have finished the half on a more stable footing.

Yet for no discernable reason, Tipp crept back in.

Liam Rushe turned a ball over to give Séamus Callanan a point immediately, Johnny McCaffrey did likewise and whatever momentum those scores created, Tipp were just a point off at the break.

"I felt we over-elaborated in our play before half time and it cost us," Daly reflected. "We just took too much out of the ball when we should have kept it simple.

Cushion

"We were doing things very well before half-time and we should have just stuck to that to the half-time break and we would have had that cushion, whereas we had only the point then."

If Dublin were better in the first half, Tipp were superior in the second.

Patrick 'Bonner' Maher hit an early goal on the third attempt after Callanan had a shot saved by Gary Maguire and though the former left with an injury, both Noel McGrath and Callanan cut more sharply through Dublin from then on in.

The latter, meanwhile, nailed all of his frees.

"Sometimes I think Tipp are a team that have to have rhythm," reflected Eamon O'Shea, the manager under most pressure yesterday, but for whom respite arrived with victory.

"It's no surprise to me that other teams put out seven or eight defenders against Tipperary – that's what I'd do if I was playing Tipperary."

Tipp went that magic three points ahead on 53 minutes and from there, looked almost certain to win but Dublin flirted with two- and one-point deficits, margins which would have saved them from the pressure of next week's relegation game.

Oblivious

Then, having worked the ball meticulously up field, in injury-time, McMorrow, either oblivious to the sums or blank of mind, went short when a point would have done it for Dublin.

"We had maybe a half a goal chance or two and didn't take them either," Daly shrugged. "So it's just one of those ones, take it on the chin and get ready for next week."


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