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Cool Winters rescues Dubs as youngsters draw replay comfort

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Tipperary's Mark McCarthy keeps his eyes trained on the sliotar despite the close attention of Dublin's Shane Barrett during yesterday's All-Ireland MHC final

Tipperary's Mark McCarthy keeps his eyes trained on the sliotar despite the close attention of Dublin's Shane Barrett during yesterday's All-Ireland MHC final

Tipperary's Mark McCarthy keeps his eyes trained on the sliotar despite the close attention of Dublin's Shane Barrett during yesterday's All-Ireland MHC final

IT was like seeing double in Croker yesterday. Not only did the minor final finish level to help set up an unexpected and particularly unusual double replay in three weeks' time, but the circumstances were eerily similar to the senior final.

The curtain-raiser's climax may not have been quite as explosive but this was also decided by a heavily debated injury-time free which was coolly slotted over by Dublin's metronomic free-taker Paul Winters.

The St Brigid's lad's gutsy strike from 48 metres kept hopes of a hurling-football minor double alive for Dublin, but referee Colm Lyons' decision to award it against Tipperary centre-back Tomas Hamill for 'steps' was a tight call.

Yet it probably evened things out after a particularly harsh-looking free against Dublin fullback Cian O'Callaghan in the 54th minute, which helped Tipperary into a two-point lead.

Everyone agreed that, given the circumstances, a draw was a fair result and certainly neither management quibbled too much and just seemed mightily relieved to get a second shot at glory.

"I thought Tomas Hamill was fouled coming down with the ball when he gave a free for over-carrying but, look, it's a very difficult job to referee an All-Ireland. I think he (referee) did very well overall and we're not going to quibble over small decisions," Tipp manager Willie Maher said.

Dublin boss Shay Boland, who also managed them when they lost last year's decider, was similarly philosophical when it was put to him that Tipp got the lion's share of the frees overall.

"Either we play a different brand of hurling up here than they do in Munster or we're being penalised for indiscretions and we're not disciplined enough," Boland reflected without rancour.

"I felt they got a lot of points from frees but maybe a lot of them were fouls. I'll have to look at it to give an honest opinion really."

Escaped

So, glass half-full or half-empty for the Dubs who had nine starters from the side who lost last year's minor decider and still haven't got across the line?

They started like a train, conceded no scores from play in the first half and turned ends leading by three, yet escaped by the skin of their teeth.

"Oh, the glass is well full!" Boland insisted. "I've huge belief in those lads and they've huge belief in themselves. Look, we didn't get there in the end but these things happen and we'll be raring to go the next day again."

Four of his starters are also contesting the minor football final in two weeks' time and he immediately indicated that they'll be given the necessary time to concentrate on that next.

One of those dual jewels -- Cormac Costello -- was the outstanding player in yesterday's thriller, fetching, carrying and delivering throughout in a heroic performance.

He was among the scorers who gave Dublin an immediate four-point lead after throw-in.

But just when they looked set to hit the turbo button, Tipperary got a big break when Dublin goalkeeper Cian MacGabhann fluffed a puck-out in the ninth minute and Mark McCarthy pounced and was taken down for a penalty which sharpshooter John McGrath (Noel's younger brother) slotted home.

That threw Tipp a vital early lifeline but Dublin once again went four points clear with Costello, Donal Gormley (a pre-match inclusion for Sean Treacy), Conor McHugh and Cian Boland doing heavy damage up front.

A superb point by Costello left them 1-8 to 1-5 clear at the break and all of Tipp's scores by then came from McGrath's free-taking, with O'Callaghan, Eoghan O'Donnell and Shane Barrett particularly good in the Dubs' defence.

They had a chance to nail the door shut immediately after the restart when Oisin O'Rorke ghosted in along the end-line, but he saw his rasper come off the upright.

But Tipp, to their credit, refused to crumble and McCarthy forced a save at the other end before Sean Maher got their first score from play in the 33rd minute.

A fresh injection from their bench, especially Sean Ryan to midfield, the move of Tadhg Gallagher to wing-forward and McGrath's more central involvement, all led to the Tipperary revival.

And after Mark McCarthy had shaken off Barrett to goal in the 34th minute, it was nip and tuck for the next 20 minutes.

Dublin 'keeper MacGabhann certainly made up for his earlier blooper by making a spectacular save from Gallagher with 11 minutes left and, with Tipp dominating second-half possession, Dublin, led defensively by captain O'Callaghan, had to battle hard for every score and were dependent on Winters' free-taking to keep their double hopes alive.

Scorers -- Dublin: C Costello 1-3, P Winters 0-6 (6f), C McHugh, C Boland 0-2 each, E O'Donnell, S McClelland, D Gormley 0-1 each. Tipperary: J McGrath 1-11 (9f, 2 '65, 1-0 pen), M McCarthy 1-0, S Maher 0-2.

Dublin -- C MacGabhann 6; E Lowndes 7, C O'Callaghan (capt) 9, S Barrett 8; S McClelland 7, R Murphy 6, E O'Donnell 7; C Cronin 6, D Gormley 8; C Boland 7, C McHugh 8, C Costello 9; O O'Rorke, C Conway 6, P Winters 7. Sub: C Bennett 6 for Conway (51).

Tipperary -- P Maher 7; R Maher 6, M Breen 8, J Peters 7; T Fox 6, T Hamill 7, B Heffernan 6; B Maher 7, T Gallagher 7; S O'Brien 6, J McGrath 8, J Shelly 6; M McCarthy 7, S Maher 7, S Cahill 6. Subs: S Ryan 8 for Shelly (h-t), K Slattery 7 for Gallagher (51), C Lanigan 6 for McCarthy (61).

Ref -- C Lyons (Cork).

Irish Independent