Tipperary’s Shane Bourke shoots to score his side’s first goal despite the efforts of Ruairi Trainor, left, and Alan Nolan in the Allianz NHL semi-final in Thurles
VINCENT HOGAN – 22 APRIL 2013
A league they arrived into with all the enthusiasm of highly-strung stallions being led into a burning building might now be remembered as the perfect convalescence home for Tipperary.
They strolled almost haughtily into Sunday week’s final with this bloodless routing of a Dublin team that, frankly, neglected to lay a glove on them. Shane Bourke’s goal inside 90 seconds set Tipp off on one of those irresistible, wristy surges, Eamon O’Shea’s men decanting 2-8 to Dublin’s 0-1 between the second and 23rd minutes to effectively embalm the game for burial.
Inevitably, talk turned afterwards to it proving some kind of stark synopsis of the different lives led by the haves (Division 1A occupants) and the have-nots (Division 1B) in this competition.
Yet, as Anthony Daly pointed out, Limerick – beaten by the Dubs two weeks ago in a promotion play-off – will be broadly expected to throw the kitchen sink (plus a few cisterns and unwanted baths) at this same Tipp team when they meet in a looming Munster Championship semi-final on June 9.
In this instance, Dublin were lifeless and worryingly bereft of indignation. They suffered a virtual wipe-out in the middle third of the field and Daly found himself compelled to toss on two marquee substitutes (Ryan O’Dwyer and Paul Ryan) with less than 25 minutes elapsed. Neither looked fully fit and, by half-time, Tipp were already all but out of sight (3-11 to 0-8).
That mortifying 12-points trimming in their opening game at Pairc Ui Rinn on a refrigerated February night has, since, been filed away as something of a puzzling aberration. They did also lose to Waterford in Walsh Park, but Tipp have found palpable momentum in this league, particularly in a forward line that seems to have rediscovered the precious gift of spatial awareness.
This was deemed O’Shea’s priceless contribution to the 2010 All-Ireland-winning side and the fluent interchanging among the forwards yesterday suggested that his return to the Tipp dressing-room has already had a revelatory impact.
Lar Corbett started on the ’40’, moved to the left corner within four minutes and – as Liam Rushe braced himself for a grand safari – Daly sensibly instructed the Dublin backs to just hold their positions and hurl. Trouble was, Tipp were flying on all fronts.
Bourke’s opening goal came from a wonderful fetch, above bigger men on the edge of the ‘square’, and a high, clinical finish. Suddenly, young Jason Forde had added a smart point on the run and Tipp were now pouring forward in hungry phalanxes.
Noel McGrath and Seamus Callanan tagged on further Tipp scores and, then, the gods decided to forsake Dublin’s already fraying hopes. Peter Kelly made a wonderful block-down on Pa Bourke, but the ball spilled directly into the path of a speeding freight train, otherwise known as Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher.
The Lorrha man went torqueing hard to the edge of the ‘square’ where he was met by the outstretched boot of Dublin full-back, Paul Schutte, and Maher went tumbling. Yet, as he fell, Maher adjusted brilliantly to fizz a smart finish beyond Alan Nolan’s reach. The full-back received a booking for his troubles. Tipp? They just kept on coming.
Only Danny Sutcliffe seemed to locate any sense of outrage for Dublin, the St Jude’s man moved to midfield after Simon Lambert’s 20th-minute departure and finished the day with a commendable personal tally of 0-4 from play.
A lone voice was never likely to get much of an audience though and, with Callanan, Forde, the two Bourkes and Lar Corbett all on fire, Tipp looked to carry a goal threat on every visit into enemy territory. Noel McGrath was having a wonderful game at midfield too, Tipp’s pressure decorated by some sublime scores, not least Forde’s gorgeous sideline cut from the toes of the old stand approaching half-time.
There were just two minutes to the break when Ruairi Trainor dragged down Shane Bourke for a penalty that Callanan despatched with some venom for Tipp’s third. Game over.
Being honest, what followed felt passionless as book-keeping.
A little conceit began to infect Tipp’s play and, at times, they seemed more drawn to matador oles from the crowd than to the kind of direct, ruthless hurling they are sure to encounter on Sunday week. If anything, Brendan Cummins arguably became the busier of the two ‘keepers too and he was called upon to make smart saves from both Sutcliffe and O’Dwyer.
There was even the faint murmur of rebellion by the 55th minute as three unanswered Dublin points trimmed the margin to nine (0-15 to 3-15), but that murmur soon departed to the rat-a-tat gunfire of Tipp firing a swift necklace of five over the Killinan end goal.
Perhaps there was a sliver of consolation for the Dubs entering added-time, given they had actually matched Tipp 0-9 to 0-9 during that second 35 minutes. But, at the death, their day took a cruel, slapstick turn. Brendan Maher’s delivery should have been no more than routine for Nolan in goal, but his touch was too loose and Tipp substitute, Michael Heffernan, nipped in to bat an easy finish to the net.
Gasps and sympathetic groans all round. Not a game to trouble the curators.
Man of the match: S Callanan (Tipperary).
SCORERS –Tipperary: S Callanan 1-7 (1-0 pen, 0-2fs, 0-1 ’65’), J Forde 0-4 (1 s/l), S Bourke 1-1, N McGrath, P Bourke 0-3 each, Patrick Maher, M Heffernan 1-0 each, S McGrath, L Corbett 0-1 each. Dublin: P Ryan (3fs, 1 ’65’), D Sutcliffe 0-4 each, D Treacy 0-3 (1f), D O’Callaghan, S Durkin 0-2 each, J Boland, C Keaney 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY – B Cummins 8; P Stapleton 8, C O’Mahony 6, M Cahill 8; D Maher 7, Padraic Maher 7, B Maher 7; N McGrath 8, S McGrath 7; J Forde 8, L Corbett 7, Patrick Maher 7; S Bourke 8, S Callanan 9, P Bourke 7. Subs: C O’Brien 7 for Cahill (50), J Woodlock 7 for S McGrath (57), M Heffernan 7 for Corbett (59), T Hamill (not on long enough to rate) for Padraic Maher (63), T Hammersley for S Bourke.
DUBLIN – A Nolan 6; P Kelly 7, P Schutte 7, R Trainor 6; M Carton 6, L Rushe 7, S Durkin 7; J Boland 6, S Lambert 6; C Keaney 6, J McCaffrey 6, D Sutcliffe 8; C McCormack 6, D O’Callaghan 7, D Treacy 7. Subs: R O’Dwyer 6 for Lambert (20), P Ryan 6 for McCormack (24), N Corcoran 7 for Trainor (47), N McMorrow 6 for McCaffrey (53), E Dillon (not on long enough to rate) for Treacy (62).
Ref – B Gavin (Offaly)