Tipp learn little from rout of lame Dubs
Tipperary 2-25 Dublin 0-20
The scoreline suggests a pleasant day out in Croke Park for Tipperary and, in the end, it was. Yet Michael Ryan was not exaggerating when he said there was a period when he feared the game might have slipped away from his men.
He was referring to an extraordinary opening 12 minutes when Dublin sprinted into an eight-point lead (0-10 to 0-2), while playing with a style and verve not previously produced in this campaign.
It was almost as if Tipperary hadn't moved their clocks forward to summer time, instead stuck in winter slowness as Dublin buzzed all around them.
Quicker to the ball, slicker in their use of possession and generally looking much better than a side that misfired quite regularly in the lower half of Division 1B, Dublin looked the real deal. Some of their score-making and taking was delightful to watch and even raised hopes on a thinly populated Hill 16 that a big upset was on the way.
Sadly for Dublin, it turned out to be no more than a teaser, as once Tipperary plugged in fully they had far too much power for an opposition that just couldn't cope with the dramatically changed circumstances.
Tipperary outscored Dublin by 2-23 to 0-10 after the 13th minute, while looking as if they had a lot more in reserve if the occasion demanded. They played all of the second-half with 14 men, having had Ronan Maher sent off on a second yellow card just before the interval.
So why did it all go so badly wrong for Dublin after such an enterprising opening?
"We brought a lot of the trouble on ourselves after a great start. A lot of the things we had been talking about and working on during the week came to fruition in the first 15-20 minutes, but then we inflicted a lot of trouble on ourselves. The game started to run away from us after that," said Dublin manager Pat Gilroy
"We won great ball coming out of defence, but then gave it up cheaply. We weren't doing that at the start. We made a lot of very silly mistakes after those first 10-15 minutes. You'll get punished when you do that against the likes of Tipperary."
The punishment was hard and enduring, especially for a Dublin defence which found John McGrath very difficult to cope with. He finished on 1-4, most of which came in the first-half, while Jason Forde, in addition to continuing his good run as free-taker, also did well in general play.
Michael Breen scored Tipperary's second goal in the 55th minute, by which stage the pace and tempo of the game had dropped considerably.
The win leaves Tipperary on track to win the league title for the first time in 10 years, a target that looked well beyond reach early on.
"I am looking forward to seeing (the opening period again). I have to temper our bad start with how well Dublin started and, on balance, credit should go to them rather than us being flat. They got some start and if they had got another point or two at that stage they might have tipped us over the edge," said Ryan.
Tipperary had completed the recovery process by the time Maher was sent off (they led 1-15 to 0-14 at half-time) but they then faced the challenge of being a man down for all of the second-half.
"It was a great challenge for us and I was very happy with how the lads applied themselves. Our work-rate and use of the ball was good. I was really happy with their attitude after the sending-off," he said.
Next up for Tipperary is a semi-final clash with Limerick and, judging by Ryan's comments, winning the league title has moved high up the immediate agenda.
With the new-look provincial championships starting earlier than usual this year, there were suggestions that the league might not be pursued as diligently as in previous years, but Ryan gave the very opposite impression.
"We are getting to the climax of the league and we certainly want to be involved. These are great games for us. Even the chance to come up here and play in Croke Park is really good for fellas. Some of the lads in our 26 today have never been here in any other capacity than a supporter," Ryan said.
"We haven't won the National League since 2008 and in last year's final we gave a right poor account of ourselves - we would like to get another shot at the final and put it right."
Meanwhile, it's off to the training ground for Dublin, who have a lot to work out before the championship.
Despite this latest setback, Gilroy believes that the league will have taught the Dublin players some valuable lessons to take into the even tougher challenges that lie ahead.
"It was great for us in terms of seeing so many players. We wanted to give as many as possible a reasonably shot at it and we did that. We've learned a hell of a lot from it," he said.
"Our ball retention has been a bit better as we went along - our work-rate has been better too, although it slipped back a bit in the second-half today.
"Our stats guys reckon that 12 of Tipperary's scores came from straight mistakes by us. At this level you can't do that. It requires more work on the training field."
Gilroy will be making early contact with several who will clearly have an important roll to fill in the second phase of the season.
"We'll be talking to them tomorrow. We've been at all of their games and have been very impressed by a lot of lads. They are in serious form," he added.
Scorers - Tipperary: J Forde 0-9 (7f), J McGrath 1-4, M Breen 1-0, R Maher, S Curran, C Darcy, J O'Dwyer 0-2 each, S Kennedy, P Maher, B Heffernan, A Flynn 0-1 each.
Dublin: D Burke 0-7, (6f), D Sutcliffe, C Keaney, P Winters 0-3 each, F McGibb 0-2, S Barrett, F O Riain Broin 0-1 (f).
Tipperary - B Hogan 7; A Flynn 7, J Barry 7, M Cahill 7; B Heffernan 7, P Maher 7, P Feehan 7; S Kennedy 7, R Maher 5; S Curran 7, B McCarthy 7, J McGrath 8; M Breen 7, J Forde 7, C Darcy 7. Subs: J O'Dwyer 7 for Darcy (45), Paul Maher for Kennedy (66), P Shanahan for Breen (68), T Hamill for Feehan (69), W Connors for McCarthy (72).
Dublin - A Nolan 6; P Smyth 6, B O'Carroll 6, E O'Donnell 7; J Madden 6, C Crummey 6, S Barrett 6; R McBride 6, F McGibb 6; D Burke 7, C Keaney 7, D Sutcliffe 7; R Hayes 5, R O'Dwyer 5, P Winters 7. Subs: F Whitely 6 for Hayes (ht), R Mahon 5 for O'Dwyer (42), D Kelly 6 for Crummey (49),C Costello 6 for Winters (55), F O Riain Broin (0-1f), for McBride (62).
Ref - S Cleere (Kilkenny)