Noel McGrath like many of the Tipperary forwards in Croke Park on Sunday found it difficult to locate space given Dublin’s tactic of employing an extra defender but the Loughmore-Castleiney man adjusted and went on to play an influential role in the second half.
McGrath stepped up scoring three vital points for his team in that second half, the third of which was a wonderful sideline cut with four minutes left which restored Tipp’s lead to three points in the dramatic closing minutes of the contest.
The fact that Dublin packed their defence and went about their task with a great intensity came as no surprise said McGrath after the final whistle.
“In the first half up in the forward we did not get much of the ball. Lar kept us in it in the first half with a goal and a few points and it opened up a bit in the second half when we got more of the ball and I was happy enough in the second half,” said McGrath.
He said nobody on the Tipp panel expected anything different from Dublin on the day as they had put in some very good performances over the year.
“We all knew Dublin would be a big test for us today and we all saw out there what Dublin could do and we just managed to get over the line in the end,” he said.
He felt Tipperary got the dream start but failed to ‘kick on’ from there in that first half.
“You have to give great credit to Dublin, we have seen all year that they have been playing good games and getting good results. We were not expecting anything different than what we got, to be honest we are delighted and we would have taken a one point win today,” said the Tipp marksman.
He said that teams had to be ready for any eventuality and had to be prepared to adjust during games to different situations. It came as no surprise that Dublin would play the extra man to pack their defence and it was a tactic that stifled Tipp’s normal style.
“Putting the extra man back there worked to their advantage but at the other end Michael Cahill hit an awful lot of ball during the whole game,” he said.
It came as no surprise to them that Dublin were up for a battle and their intensity all over the field and the man to man marking was excellent.
Noel said that obviously people, particularly the supporters and the media, were talking before the game about a Tipperary-Kilkenny final and the players could do nothing about that only just focus on the game ahead.
“We heard all that talk but we knew we would not get anything easy today and that was what happened. Thankfully our minds were fully focused on today and it was a tough game and as hard as we have played for a long time,” he said.
“No matter what player you come up against at inter county level it’s going to be a good player. We were not expecting anything less than this. It was very physical, there was a lot of heavy hits and it was fast and hard. We have to settle down now and have three weeks to prepare for an All-Ireland final and we will be focusing on that now,” he said.