Improvement needed from the Premier County as Tipperary and Dublin get ready to play it again

Eamonn Wynne

Eamonn Wynne

After that unprecedented day of the double draw on September 9th the Minor hurlers of Tipperary and Dublin and the Kilkenny and Galway seniors will reconvene at GAA headquarters for the All-Ireland Final replays on Sunday afternoon.

The common consensus is that Tipperary won’t play as badly again in the Minor replay as they did in the drawn game. However Dublin showed in that match three weeks ago that Tipp will need to do a lot more than just turn up if they want to capture their 19th All-Ireland crown in this grade and their first in five years.

In pre-match interviews Tipp manager William Maher had claimed that Dublin were the best team they played all year and Shay Boland’s side fully justified that assessment.

Their display was so strong that no one could argue that they didn’t deserve a second stab at glory, which they earned when Paul Winters converted a late free to ensure the first Minor Hurling Final replay since Galway beat Kilkenny in 2004, as the Dubs chase a fifth Minor title and their first since 1965.

Tipp were a shadow of the side that had swept through the championship with victories over Kerry, Waterford, Clare and Galway, so for that reason they too are glad of their second bite of the cherry.

They were particularly lacklustre in the first half, at the end of which they were a goal behind.

They stepped up a couple of gears after the turnover, and while their form in the second half still wasn’t good enough to secure victory it was much more encouraging than what had gone before it.

The areas where they need to improve are obvious; just three players – John McGrath, Mark McCarthy and Sean Maher – got on the scoresheet, while they scored only 1-2 of their 2-13 from play.

In the first half especially the defence struggled with the pace and mobility of the spring-heeled Dublin forwards including Conor McHugh, Paul Winters and Cian Boland, as well as man-of-the-match Cormac Costello, who scored 1-3 from play.

In the finish Tipp were grateful for John McGrath’s contribution of 1-11, all from placed balls; Mark McCarthy’s well-taken goal four minutes into the second half and Sean Maher’s pair of points. The efforts of captain, Bill Maher and the half back line of Tom Fox, Tomas Hamill and Barry Heffernan were similarly important as they lived to fight another day.

Manager William Maher stated after the drawn game that his team’s favourites tag was well gone, but one leading bookmakers firm doesn’t agree. They have Tipp as 2/1-on, with Dublin 2/1 and the draw at 8/1.

However those odds have shortened since the original game, when Tipp were 4/1-on and Dublin 10/3.

If the sides finish level again at the end of 60 minutes then extra-time will be played.