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minors dig in to tame tribesmen

Dublin recovered from a precarious position to eventually overcome Galway by two points in their absorbing All-Ireland Minor Football Championship semi-final at Croke Park yesterday afternoon.

Tipperary now stand in the Dubs way of a first All-Ireland crown since 1984 when the two sides meet in three weeks' time.

Given the ease with which Dublin arrived at the semi-final stage, the tight nature of the contest should stand them in good stead and the manner in which they regained their composure and focus in the final quarter was one of the few positives on what was generally a less than impressive display.

When Scott Fulham goaled within 15 seconds of the throw-in, availing of excellent approach play from Cormac Costello, Dublin may have expected a similarly easy passage, but there were early signs that the cohesion and movement within the forwards was not of its usual quality.

In fact, Galway could have goaled themselves inside two minutes but Seán Moran, put clear by Shane Walsh, placed his shot too close to Ross O'Hanlon, who parried the ball to safety.



Dominance

Dublin began to enjoy a short period of dominance with Eric Lowndes and John Small figuring prominently, but that supremacy never materialised on the scoreboard as the Dubs racked up six wides within the opening 10 minutes.

Gavin Ivory finally found his range when converting an 11th-minute '45' but Walsh quickly registered his side's first score when tapping over a close-range free two minutes later.

With Costello enjoying a fine start at wing-forward, Dublin pushed five points clear with Ciarán Kilkenny and fellow dual player Costello kicking two fine points by the end of the first quarter.

With Dublin guilty of far too many turnovers, Galway began to settle and kicked three successive scores, two coming from the exceptional Conor Rabbitte, while Walsh added another free to leave just two between the sides approaching the break.

Crucially, Dublin finished the half strongly with Fulham kicking a sublime point, Dublin's first for 13 minutes, while Kilkenny added another a minute before the interval to hand his side a seemingly healthy four-point advantage.

Galway made one pivotal change for the second-half with midfielder Shane Maughan moving to the edge of the square and that switch paid instant dividends as the Tribesman were a far more dangerous proposition after the break.

Rabbitte kicked another classy point within 20 seconds of the restart with Maughan and Walsh bringing Galway to within a point before the latter confidently struck home a penalty in the 35th minute after Dublin captain Robbie McDaid had hauled down Ian Burke.

Burke increased Galway's lead to three four minutes later and there was a desperation to Dublin's play at this juncture as they struggled to gain possession around centrefield.

However, slowly but surely, Dublin began to eat into their deficit, with Paul Mannion kicking a fine score in the 44th minute, and Kilkenny brought the sides level by the 51st minute with two points, one from play.



Eclipsed

Nine minutes of scoreless play ensued before Small received an inside pass from substitute Niall Scully to kick a glorious point from 40 metres, and Kilkenny eclipsed that score with another brilliant effort one minute into injury time.

Walsh responded with a close-in free within a minute, but the last word fell to Kilkenny as he tapped over his second free, and sixth in total, to edge Dublin over the line.


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