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Tribesmen deny Dubs final spot

THE Premier boys tip-toed away just before the curtain fell in O'Connor Park on Saturday. It was crystal clear at that stage that they would be playing Galway in the Bord Gáis All-Ireland U-21 hurling final.

For Dublin hurling, it was another bitter taste of 'Tullamore Dew'. The Offaly venue is now one of the most charming in the country, but that holds little comfort for the city stickmen.

Defeat there in the National League this term had Anthony Daly feeling "blue in the face". This time there was no need for words.

The result was written all over the face of the Dublin manager, Ritchie Stakelum, as the squad headed for the bus en route for the post-match meal at the Tullamore Court Hotel.



CORRIDOR

Across the corridor, Galway chief Anthony Cunningham was fielding more questions than a contestant on Larry Gogan's Just A Minute Quiz.

Anthony played for Galway in the 1983 All-Ireland minor hurling final against Dublin -- the Niall Quinn final. Ironically on Saturday, Galway's classy centre half-forward was Niall Quinn!

Quinn rattled in the first of Galway's goals from a penalty at the town end in the first half, but it was their second, in the 40th minute, that changed the script of the hour.

Until then, Dublin were very much in it. The sides were level five times in the opening period. Galway led by a point at the break, 1-6 to 1-5.

Dublin could have been level only for a brilliant 31st-minute block on Conor Clinton right in front of the stand from captain and centre half-back David Burke, who was outstanding.

Alongside him, Niall Donoghue and Sylvie óg Linnane ensured that the Galway half-back line was a mini version of the famed unit of Finnerty, Keady and McInerney.

In that first half, Dublin didn't lack possession or chances. But they had seven wides to mull over as they had their cuppa. There was two points between them when Burke struck for the critical goal, and from then on, the outcome was written on the wind.



STRONG

"Dublin had a strong enough breeze in the first half, so we were fairly happy at half-time. We knew we could kick on a bit in the second half," reflected Cunningham.

"That second goal put a bit of daylight between us. The lads settled down after that. They were a bit on edge before that.

"It was difficult for us coming into the match without any Championship games behind us and playing against a team that had beaten Kilkenny and Wexford.

"We were concerned how we'd react to the pace of the game, but the lads worked very hard throughout the summer. We are delighted with the win and we'll move on from here now.

"We have a lot of brushing up to do. We learned a lot and we know we have a lot of hurling to get in before we face Tipp next month."

Tipp strolled home against Antrim in the first part of the double-bill that attracted over 3,000 spectators. There was a fair sprinkling of Dubs among them.

They were on their feet to greet the opening goal in the fourth minute. Liam Rushe's cloud-scraper dipped into Galway Bay. David Quinn got hold of it on the right and squeezed it in on the near post.

A minute later came the penalty. Richie Cummins was fouled cutting in from the left. Quinn's arrow sped just below the bar. Perfection.

That made it 1-1 apiece. And on it went. Dublin stepped out, Galway stepped in again. Two Quinn points gave Galway their interval advantage.

A heavy shower greeted the start of the second half. It became very dark and that reflected the mood on the Dublin bench as Galway began to create more and more openings in attack with tidy deliveries and a sharp first touch.

Burke's goal was a nugget. He had come on at half-time. He immediately made an impact with his strength and vision.

His goal combined many qualities. He gained possession out on the right, held off the challenges, bounced the sliotar on the stick, advanced a few more yards and then bang.

The talented Tribesmen quickly added three more points. Darren Whelan came off the bench to land three frees for the Dubs, who found themselves up against the clock and going for goals.

Just before the end, even goalkeeper Finn McGarry made the long journey to try and shake the Galway net. But, such was Galway's resilience, it was a task that would have even been beyond all the king's horses and all the king's men.


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