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.
“Sometimes self criticism is good in the hope that you will improve for the next day. In saying all that,
I’m thrilled for the players after getting past a team of Dublin’s caliber. They character they showed was first class, particularly after conceding the goal.”
Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash, who scored three huge points from frees in the course of the game, was also delighted with the win and the chance to play in an All-Ireland final.
Nash said, “I thought I’d never get there. The elation we had there in the dressing room versus the misery we had in the Munster final dressing room is obviously far different.
“We will put the head down. Clare and Limerick are two fantastic sides. Clare beat us three times this year and Limerick beat us in the Munster final deservedly so look, we’ll just get our own house in order and hopefully finish the right side of that as well.”
Goal scorer Patrick Horgan will watch this Sunday’s semifinal between Limerick and Clare but doesn’t care who comes through.
He admitted, “I don’t mind who it is. We are there and we are just going to enjoy the four weeks while we have them because you might never get a chance like this again.
“No one can say they can expect to be in the All-Ireland final, not even the very best of teams because it has gone so competitive.
“There are eight teams now who feel they can do it. It has gone so competitive that we will take it game by game. Look we are there and we will see what we make of it.”
Daly Will Mull Dublin Future
ANTHONY Daly won’t rush into any decision on his future after Dublin’s defeat to Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday.
The Clare man’s deal as manager is now over but the County Board want him to stay.
Daly said, “Every single year I have been asked this question when the season is over and I have said nothing. You don’t make decisions in sad dressing rooms and that’s what down there at the minute.
“What the future holds may be out of my hands. In saying that, I don’t think there is a rush for a decision as of now. I’m sure there are lads out there who’ll be eager to take over that Dublin team.”
Murphy Looks Ready to Play
CORK expects to have Brian Murphy pushing hard for a starting place in the All-Ireland final next month after he appeared on the bench for Sunday’s semifinal win over Dublin, just months after he broke a collarbone.
Manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy confirmed, “We could have brought him on today if it was serious enough to bring him on. We were hoping to get away with it, but he will certainly be an option for the final, I think.”
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