Late wonder-goal Tipps scales to break young Dub's hearts
TIPPERARY may not have retained hurling's big gong this season but their minor footballers captured a historic All-Ireland yesterday that will surely accelerate the county's burgeoning football revolution.
The way they snatched it at the death -- a 57th-minute wonder-goal from super-sub Colman Kennedy to steal it by a point -- only added to the conclusion of their fairytale season.
Flying starts to both halves, a gutsy second-half comeback and Kennedy's fantastic strike left the heavily fancied Baby Dubs in tears.
And it was particularly heartbreaking for the quartet of losing dual starters, who also lost the minor hurling final two weeks ago.
But a late defensive blunder, and getting hit by a bad dose of the yips in the second half, cost Dessie Farrell's side heavily and underlined, yet again, the mental frailty that affects inexperienced teenagers when the sporting spotlight searches them out.
For Tipp's giantkillers, and particularly Kennedy, this was Roy of the Rovers stuff.
It was all of 77 years since the county's last and only minor football victory, but that 1934 title was won in the boardroom.
This was the first All-Ireland they won on the field of play and confirmed they are an emerging football force.
They had taken out Munster's 'big three' this summer and this had distinct echoes of their 11-point semi-final comeback against Kerry.
That memory was used at half-time by manager David Power when they trailed by five points, 1-10 to 2-2.
"Yeah, I said to the lads, 'this is just like the Kerry game all over again, we just have to come back and fight.' And we did, we really showed our steel," grinned Power (28).
No sooner had they made history than he declared: "This is just the start. It sends home a message that we can back up all the talk, we're after winning a minor All-Ireland, that's huge. It is going to help all the super underage coaches we have, but the work only begins now."
Power was quick to stress that it was a team effort, both on the field and on the sideline, and the latter certainly made some crucial calls.
The underdogs blasted out of the traps, scoring 1-1 within 99 seconds of throw-in, the goal coming from captain Liam McGrath.
But they didn't score again for 18 minutes as Dublin hit them with an unanswered 1-7, goaling themselves after just six minutes when Jack McCaffrey put Gavin Ivory through to finish.
Tipp folk looked like they were going to be haunted by 'Kilkenny' for a second final in a row, as Ciaran Kilkenny was totally controlling the game, scoring 0-5 (2f) by half-time despite some tight marking from John Meagher.
Dublin were also on top in midfield and their pressure game was swamping Tipp in every sector.
But somehow Tipp didn't panic and their second goal, created and scored by full-forward Michael Quinlivan, was vital.
He floated in a perfect line-ball to McGrath, who was taken down by Dublin 'keeper Ross O'Hanlon for a penalty. Quinlivan faced the wrath of The Hill and slotted it home.
Then Tipp's management made some vital switches.
They started John McGrath (brother of senior hurler Noel), who did well, yet replaced him at half-time with their regular centre-forward Philip Quirke, and also threw Kennedy into the mix.
The result was explosive, as within 90 seconds of the restart they had both scored.
Kennedy would end with 1-2 (2f), their joint top scorer.
Quirke wrestled back midfield and finished with 0-3 from play, two of them long-range boomers.
Tipp scored the first four points of the second half to cut the deficit to a point and had the gap to a minimum three times in the next 25 minutes.
Yet Dublin managed to edge ahead each time even though, with the finish-line in sight, they got hit terribly by nerves and shot 10 second-half wides.
Then came a two-minute spell that proved particularly costly.
Scott Fulham went for a goal when a point would have put them two clear again, and was blocked.
Tipp swept downfield and then Dublin goalkeeper O'Hanlon made a bad pass to Rutherson Real. Kennedy nipped in to rob the ball and shot that wonder-goal from all of 20 yards out.
Kilkenny got a free to cut the gap back to one again, but in those dying minutes Dublin kicked two more wides and wasted another ball over the sideline as their composure deserted them.
Like any good minor manager, Farrell didn't single out any individual but blamed their collective loss of composure and exhaustion.
"We had a very bad start, and to get that back, and get our heads in front at half-time, we expended an awful lot of energy," he said.
"That meant a lot of weary limbs and tired bodies late in the game and a lot of bad decisions were taken, but I'm immensely proud of the journey these lads have taken.
"Tipperary just deserve great credit, they've been digging it out all year."
Scorers -- Tipperary: L McGrath (0-1f), C Kennedy (0-2f) 1-2 each, M Quinlivan 1-1 (1-0 pen), P Quirke 0-3, B Maher 0-1. Dublin: C Kilkenny 0-7 (3f), G Ivory 1-1, P Mannion 0-2(1f), J Small, J McCaffrey, E O'Conghaile, C Costello 0-1 each.
Tipperary -- E Comerford 7; N O'Sullivan 6, J Meagher 7, C O'Sullivan 7; C O'Riordan 6, D Fitzelle 7, S Kennedy 6; S O'Brien 6, I Fahey 6; G Henry 8, J McGrath 8, B Maher 7; L McGrath (Capt) 8, M Quinlivan 9, TJ Ryan 6. Subs: P Quirke 9 for J McGrath (half-time), C Kennedy 9 for Ryan (h-t), A McGuire 7 for O'Riordan (43), J Lonergan 7 for Henry (51), J Martin 6 for Maher (55).
Dublin -- R O'Hanlon 6; G Hannigan 6, R McDaid (Capt) 7, R Real 8; E Lowndes 6, J Small 7, J McCaffrey 7; P O'Higgins 8, E O'Conghaile 6; C Costello 6, C Kilkenny 9, G Ivory 7; S Fulham 6, P Mannion 7, C Meaney 7. Subs: D Campbell 8 for Meaney (39), D Byrne 7 for Hannigan (inj, 53), N Scully for Fulham (59).
Ref -- P Hughes (Armagh).