TOMMY Toomey’s Tipperary stunned holders Dublin in Tullamore yesterday to advance to a very first EirGrid All-Ireland under 21 football championship final.
Injury-time points from towering midfielder Steven O’Brien and Kevin O’Halloran sealed a sensational two-point win for Tipp, who were crowned Munster champions for just the second time last week.
Tipp were 11/4 with some bookmakers to shock Dessie Farrell’s Dublin but they were full value for the win, coming from five points down to reel in their opponents.
Tipp found themselves 0-8 to 0-3 behind early in the second half but with O’Brien and inspirational captain Colin O’Riordan driving them forward, the Premier County clawed their way back in front of 1,374 spectators at O’Connor Park.
A run of four unanswered points brought Tipp, playing with a strong breeze in the second half, to within touching distance; they were denied a goal by some brilliant defending from David Byrne to turn Liam Casey’s point over the bar.
Senior star Cormac Costello put Dublin 0-9 to 0-7 ahead but a superb Jason Lonergan point cut the deficit to the bare minimum again, before Dublin lost corner back Martin Cahalane to a black card. Josh Keane kicked the resultant free to level matters before Tipp surged two points clear with a brace of Kevin O’Halloran points.
Dublin’s response was impressive as two Costello frees restored parity again, before Ross Mulcahy’s magnificent long-range point edged Tipp in front down the home straight.
Dublin sub David Campbell looked to have taken the game into extra-time with another equaliser but after Tipp, dominant around midfield, won a free after claiming possession in the middle third, O’Riordan’s quick-thinking freed the unmarked O’Brien for the lead score. And when O’Halloran banged over a long-range free in the second minute of stoppage-time, there was no time for Dublin to respond.
Dublin had led by 0-7 to 0-3 at half-time, with Conor McHugh supplying four points, including three from play.
The Sky Blues also had seven wides but Tipp missed a few scoreable chances themselves, particularly from frees.
Tipp won 11 kickouts to Dublin’s seven in that opening half, albeit many of those were short from the respective goalkeepers.
But whenever Tipp’s Evan Comerford went long, O’Brien, O’Riordan and Ian Fahey were impressive under the high ball delivered into the teeth of a strong wind.
With the elements at their backs, Dublin had five points from play to just one from Tipp but the winners hung in there until the break.
In a half of no goal chances, Dublin were 0-5 to 0-2 clear by the 26th minute before Keane pointed a free for Tipp from the hand.
McHugh responded with a superb point after a one-two with Colm Basquel before McHugh’s free left four points between the sides at the break.
Scorers — Tipperary: K O’Halloran 0-4 (3f), J Keane 0-3f, S O’Brien, C O’Riordan 0-2 each, R Mulcahy, J Lonergan, L Casey 0-1 each. Dublin: C Costello (3f), C McHugh (1f) 0-4 each, S Carthy 0-2, C Basquel, D Campbell 0-1 each.
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.
Sub: D McEnroe for Maher (59).
Dublin: L Molloy; D Byrne, M Cahalane, R McGowan; A Farrell, E Lowndes, C Mullally; Stephen Cunningham, S Carthy; N Scully, A Foley, E Murchan; C Costello, C McHugh, C Basquel. Subs: Shane Cunningham for Stephen Cunningham (25), S Clayton for Foley (45), E Fletcher for Cahalane (b/c 49), A Byrne for Basquel (49), D Campbell for Scully (52).
Referee: J Henry (Mayo)