IT feels like it happened in a different century, but two seasons ago Dublin whipped Tipperary by 12 points in a League tie at Parnell Park.
Since then, the trajectory of the two teams has diverged dramatically. In the corresponding league fixture last spring in Thurles, Tipperary won by fourteen points, while the margin in Croke Park this evening was 16 points.
In their first competitive outing since their memorable 2016 All-Ireland final success over Kilkenny last September Tipperary crushed an even more inexperienced Dublin team.
With the Cuala players’ absence due to their involvement in the All-Ireland club series and other former squad members opting out, Dublin boss Ger Cunningham has little option but to introduce fresh faces. Dublin included three of last year’s minor side, Paddy Smyth, Cian O’Sullivan and Paddy Burke in their side, while dual player Steven O’Brien and corner forward Aidan McCormack started their first competitive match for the visitors and made is a memorable one, hitting 0-5 from play.
Tipp carved open the Dublin full back line after three minutes when a handpass from ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer put All Star Seamus Callanan through, but Shane Barrett blocked his shot and goalkeeper Gary Maguire saved Callanan’s second effort. Dublin looked the sharper side in the early exchanges, moving into a 3-1 lead after ten minutes. A lack of a killer instinct became more evident in the 15th minute when Cian O’Sullivan dropped the sliotar after being put through on goal by Donal Burke. Tipp improved in the second quarter, ending a 12 minute scoring famine with two points in 90 seconds before Aidan McCormack levelled the contest with his second point.
Donal Burke missed two long range frees for Dublin as their scoring came to a standstill. At the other end, a brace of Callanan frees gave Tipp the lead for the first time before Niall McMorrow ended Dublin’s 17 minute scoreless spell with a brilliant point from distance.
New Tipp captain Padraic Maher equalled that effort with a point from distance as Tipp started to turn the screw and by half time the All-Ireland title holders led by five points (0-11; 0-6). There was no discernible change to the pattern of the game in the third quarter —Tipp simply took all the so called ‘rucks’ for possession and by the 42nd minute it was 14-7.
It was embarrassingly one-sided and by the time Seamus Callanan was replaced in the 55th minute, he was converted eight frees. It got worse for Dublin soon afterwards when Jason Forde strolled throught the right side of the Dublin defence and beat Gary Maguire to give his side a 16 point advantage.
By now, both teams had started to empty the bench and Dublin’s only respite came when substitute Eamon Dillon scored a goal ten minutes from the end after a deft cross from Burke. Dublin defender Shane Barrett was red carded in injury time after picking up his second yellow card. But Dubs face a huge battle to keep their place in Division 1A
SCORERS - Tipperary: S Callanan 0-8 (8f), A McCormack 0-5, Jason Forde 1-3, P Maher 0-2, K Bergin 0-1, T Hamill 0-1, N McGrath 0-1, J O’Dwyer 0-1 (1f), S Curran 0-1, N O’Meara 0-1. Dublin: E Dillon 1-0, D Burke 0-3 (3f), N McMorrow 0-2, C Crummey 0-1, O O’Rorke 0-1, F McGibb 0-1.
Dublin: G Maguire; P Smyth, E O’Donnell, S Barrett; C Crummey, L Rushe, S McGrath; B Quinn, D Fox; C O’Sullivan, N McMorrow). R O’Dwyer; O O’Rorke, D Burke, F McGibb. Subs: J Madden for McGrath 42m; E Dillon for O’Sullivan 46m; L McBride for Fox 50m; C Conway for O’Rorke 55m, A Quinn for McGibb 63m.
Tipperary: D Mooney; D Maher, J Barry, J O’Keeffe; T Hamill, R Maher, P Maher; B Maher, K Bergin; S O’Brien, Jason Forde, N McGrath; J O’Dwyer, S Callanan, A McCormack. Subs: M Cahill for O’Keeffe 51m; S Curran for O’Brien 54m; N O’Meara for Callanan 54m; B Heffernan for R Maher 56m, D Quinn for P Maher 59m.
Dr Crokes may finally be able to emulate the achievements of the side which brought the All-Ireland SFC club title back to Killarney 25 years ago, after they saw off the challenge of the 2015 champions in an exciting semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.