Dublin's All-Ireland dream is over after a rollercoaster ride this summer came to an abrupt and controversial end against Cork in Sunday’s Croke Park semifinal.
Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s Rebels are into the MacCarthy Cup decider against Clare or Limerick next month thanks to a 1-24 to 1-19 win over 14-man Dublin in an epic contest.
Dublin management and fans are still aghast the second half dismissal of star man Ryan O’Dwyer for two yellow card offenses.
And they will point to the scoring supremacy enjoyed by Cork when they enjoyed the numerical advantage in the closing 21 minutes as sound reason for their anger.
They have just cause. O’Dwyer’s second yellow from referee James Owens, for a 49th minute tackle on Lorcan McLoughlin, was entirely justified.
But the decision to book him after just 80 seconds for a shoulder to shoulder challenge on Luke O’Farrell was harsh to say the least.
And not for the first time in this summer of hurling shocks, a big match was ruined by a red card as Dublin’s run of wins, including the Kilkenny scalp, came to an abrupt end.
Up to then they had matched their more experienced rivals point for point and clash for clash as the sides traded the lead with regularity.
They were level 15 times and Cork led by a point, 0-15 to 1-11 with David Treacy grabbing the Dublin goal, at the break before the red card made all the difference.
And a 65th minute goal from the impressive Pat Horgan proved decisive as 14-man Dublin ran out of strength and time – with Liam Rushe lucky not to receive a red card of his own late on.
Little wonder then that their manager Anthony Daly, yet to decide on his own future, was aggrieved by the loss of O’Dwyer with 21 minutes remaining on the clock.
“Having watched it again the second one was probably a yellow card, but the first booking was awarded right in front of me and Ryan made contact with the Cork player shoulder-to-shoulder,” Daly said.
“The refs are putting themselves under pressure throwing out these early yellows and I did have a problem with the first one. We were a point ahead when Ryan was sent off and then Anthony Nash scores the free and it’s level again. People will say that’s it’s a turning point.
“In saying that, Cork won the day and you take your beating. They showed a bit a coolness and we missed a few frees that proved to be crucial. I don’t want to put it all down to a refereeing decision; that’s not good sportsmanship. I wish Cork the best. Obviously if it’s Clare in the final I’ll be shouting for them.”
O’Dwyer’s first booking came so early in the game that he was a tightrope thereafter but Daly never felt the need to replace him.
The former Clare captain added, “He was hurling really well, getting in all those blocks. You couldn’t take him off. It would have been a mad move on our part, yet if we had and finished the game with 15, we might have driven on. You just don’t know.
“Overall, I thought we hung in well when we did go a man down. Maybe we didn’t play the right ball in to our forward line late on. Then Pat Horgan gets a real poacher’s goal.”
Daly also admitted his side were naive at times on Sunday despite the experience of wins over Kilkenny and Galway earlier in the summer.
He stressed, “We didn’t impose our game to the full effect in the first half. We regrouped after halftime and I felt we got a grip on things early in the second period.
“We went two up, could have been three and then Anthony Nash made a great save. Look, things happen and it was the type of game that something unexpected was sure to happen and it did in the second half.”
Barry-Murphy knows exactly where Daly is coming from regarding the red card after he saw star forward Horgan harshly sent off just before halftime in the Munster final defeat to Limerick.
But the Cork boss was less convinced about the role this dismissal played in Sunday’s game.
He said, “It happened to us in the Munster final and Kilkenny suffered something similar the last day.
You have the extra man and if you use it properly and intelligently players can use the ball to punish the opposition.
“Conor O’Sullivan at the back was very good at reading the game and distributing the ball to good effect. Obviously there’s no point in ballooning the ball anywhere.
“I thought we hurled well when we did have the extra man; we got in front and Patrick Horgan’s goal at the end turned out to be the crucial score.”
Barry-Murphy did praise Horgan’s goal poaching skills and his influence on the game – and he was quick to praise Dublin.
He continued, “He has had an interesting year and is showing the form that we all know he has. Croke Park is a venue where his talent comes to the fore.
“It was a very enjoyable game, score for score all the way through. I’m delighted with the win, coming against a very good team like Dublin. I felt we didn’t the play as well as we could today and maybe it’s not a bad thing going into the final.