All-Ireland SHC semi-final: Tipp win, but only just…

August 14, 2011

Tipperary's Lar Corbett scores the only goal of the game despite the attention of Dublin's Peter Kelly ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Holders Tipp beat gallant Dublin by 1-19 to 0-18 at Croke Park to seal their final place.

For the third successive year, Tipperary will go head to head with Kilkenny in the decider, but injury-ravaged Dublin put in a brave performance today and were only just about edged out.

There was nothing to separate the sides in the first half and Dublin gave as good as they got after recovering superbly from the concession of an early goal. The teams were level five times during the opening period and the underdogs were full value for the 0-11 to 1-8 interval scoreline.

With glorious sunshine beaming down into the famous Jones Road cauldron, the scene was set for a fantastic sporting occasion. After a minute's silence was observed for the late Martin Mulholland, the Derry referee who died tragically while officiating over a club SHC match on Friday evening, the action commenced, with both counties lining out as selected.

Gary Maguire made a good early save between the Dublin posts but there was nothing he could do to prevent Lar Corbett from opening the scoring with a Tipp goal on two minutes after indecision from Dubs full back Peter Kelly - a nightmare start for the hosts as the Premier County's all-time leading goalscorer nicked in for a trademark score.

Alan McCrabbe replied with an exquisite point from the wing for the underdogs and Liam Rushe followed up with another scorching score from out the field after recently-crowned King of the Mountain Brendan Cummins dealt capably with a weak shot that dropped short. But a seventh-minute pointed free from Paul Ryan had the sides level. Corbett replied instantly with a super Tipp point but Joey Boland drilled over a sensational point from centre back to tie the scores up again.

Ryan O'Dwyer and McCrabbe almost combined to carve out a Dublin goalscoring chance, but Eoin Kelly was more ruthless at the other end as he took a nice point under pressure. O'Toole's clubman Liam Ryan came out to gather possession and equalise in style but Kelly stroked over a free from in front of the posts to restore the defending champions' advantage, 1-3 to 0-5.

Dublin were giving as good as they got in the early exchanges and Paul Ryan's second free regained parity on 14 minutes. On the stroke of 15 minutes, Paul Ryan collected a pass from O'Dwyer to dink over a great point and send the Sky Blues ahead for the first time. A sideline cut from McCrabbe drifted wide and Anthony Daly's charges continued to stand toe-to-toe with the raging-hot favourites…

In the 18th minute, Dublin scored a supreme point: Initially, there was great defending from Niall Corcoran before Kelly made a long clearance. Paul Ryan made an excellent airbourne catch and picked out David O'Callaghan, who slammed a tremendous score high and accurate between the posts. Dublin ahead by two!

Paul Ryan punished Tipp further with another converted free: 0-9 to 1-3 after 20 minutes. Corbett had a goal effort snuffed out and Seamus Callanan arced over a supreme point with his first contribution. Dublin came at Tipp again but the Premier County got out of jail when wing back Padraic Maher won a free after throwing himself to the ground theatrically while under pressure from the Dublin forwards.

Corbett closed the gap to one point and O'Dwyer nearly got in for a Dublin goal but had dropped his hurl. He still won a '65', which the ultra-precise Paul Ryan dropped over for his fifth point. Corbett shortened his grip to bring his tally to 1-3 inside 25 minutes. At the other end, Paul Ryan hit a majestic point on the turn to give the determined underdogs a 0-11 to 1-6 lead. Shane McGrath spooned over a seventh Tipp point and they were back within one…

With lots of honest endeavour from both teams, we witnessed wides at either end before Gearoid Ryan levelled the scores on the half-hour. Tipp were catching Dublin out repeatedly with quick puck-outs and this was an area that would need to be addressed urgently…

Paul Ryan went for goal from way out the field but Cummins was up to the task. At the other end, Maguire made an even better stop with his right shin to deny Callanan a goal from an acute angle after Tipp had carved the Dublin defence open.

Brilliant defending from Michael Carton closed the door in Tipp's face again and the first half ended with the sides level.

Noel McGrath pointed Tipp back in front a minute after the restart and Kelly added a free before Maguire saved from Corbett. Kelly's '65' put three between them and half-time substitute Maurice O'Brien knocked over Dublin's first point in 17 minutes to reduce the arrears to two. And Paul Ryan's seventh point (free) had us back to a one-point game.

An excellent Liam Rushe catch culminated in another Dublin free, which the unerring Paul Ryan fired over from 75 metres. Dublin had reeled Tipp in again but Noel McGrath's point made it 1-12 to 0-14 after 47 minutes. But Ryan - with his ninth - equalised from a facile free.

Padraic Maher and Kelly ('65') had the gap at two with 15 minutes left. Both full backs - Peter Kelly and Paul Curran - were producing commanding displays. O'Dwyer halved the deficit with a tidy Dublin point from play that crept inside the right upright at the Hill 16 end but Dublin's marking was slack as Gearoid Ryan made it 1-15 to 0-16. That's how it stood with an hour played…

The next score was always going to be crucial and it arrived from a trademark Kelly free in the 65th minute, leaving the goal between the teams, 1-16 to 0-16. Substitute Shane Ryan announced his arrival with a super point for the Dubs but Noel McGrath responded with a classy point from a sideline cut. Padraic Maher added another three minutes from time, putting four in it.

In the 69th minute, Peter Kelly scored the point of the match, floating the ball between the posts after executing an excellent block-down, but Dublin still trailed by a goal. It was frantic, heroic stuff as the match went into two minutes of injury time.

Substitute Pa Bourke sealed Tipp's passage to the decider with a very soft free at the death and Dublin almost scrambled a late goal but ran out of time.

Tipperary: B Cummins; P Stapleton, P Curran, M Cahill; J O'Keeffe, C O'Mahony, Padraic Maher (0-2); G Ryan (0-2), S McGrath (0-1); N McGrath (0-3), S Callanan (0-1), Patrick Maher; E Kelly (0-6), J O'Brien, L Corbett (1-3). Subs: B Maher for Callanan, P Bourke (0-1) for Patrick Maher, B O'Meara for Ryan, S Bourke for Kelly.

Dublin: G Maguire; N Corcoran, P Kelly (0-1), P Schutte; M Carton, J Boland (0-1), S Durkin; A McCrabbe (0-1), J McCaffrey; C McCormack, R O'Dwyer (0-1), L Rushe (0-1); D O'Callaghan (0-1), L Ryan (0-1), P Ryan (0-9). Subs: M O'Brien (0-1) for McCormack, D Plunkett for McCrabbe, S Lambert for Schutte, S Ryan (0-1) for L Ryan.

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