All-Ireland hurling champions Tipperary were tested all the way by a brave Dublin in Sunday’s Croke Park semifinal before finally sealing a four point win.
Declan Ryan’s team eventually secured a 1-19 to 0-18 margin over the battling Dubs, much to the relief of their manager as they booked a September date with Kilkenny in a repeat of last year’s decider.
Tipperary boss Ryan said, “It was a great game. It was a great game for Tipp and a great game for Dublin. I think it is no less than you would expect from a team prepared by Anthony Daly.
“They played with huge commitment. It was a ferocious game I suppose. We were lucky to come with it by a couple of scores.
“Coming up today we were expecting a very, very tough battle from Dublin. We knew they would probably set up defensively but we were ready for it. I suppose it was great test for our lads.
“They showed a lot of character out there and I’m delighted with the way they came through.”
Lar Corbett’s early goal proved crucial in front of an enthralled 43,563 spectators at headquarters.
Goal scorer Corbett has warned Tipp that they will need to improve when they meet Kilkenny in a repeat of last year’s decider.
“We have an awful lot of work to do for the next three weeks if we are to put it up to Kilkenny in three weeks because a performance like that I suppose Kilkenny would have you blown out of the water at halftime,” said Corbett.
“Dublin were winning the high ball, the 50-50s, the breaking ball on the ground. I just think that we have to be more physical if we are going to have a chance in three weeks’ time.”
Corbett was quick to praise Dublin after they pushed the All-Ireland champions to the limit.
“It was a dogfight there today,” declared Corbett. “To be fair to Dublin they won the fight at halftime.
“I would say overall a lot of the pundits would say they won the fight but we were lucky enough to come out on top in the end. A lot of people were writing off Dublin coming into today but we really felt it was a tough match.
“It goes to show how tough Dublin are. We didn’t get any easy chances. Their backs hurled very, very well. I suppose they had a spare man in the backs for a long time but we really felt it out there. We are delighted with the win.
Manager Ryan agrees that the Premier County have a lot to improve on ahead of their September clash with Kilkenny.
He admitted, “We have plenty to work on. I don’t think Kilkenny will worry about anything they saw today. We have plenty to work on, it is going to be another massive challenge and another massive game.”
Dublin boss Anthony Daly, set to consider his own future in the coming weeks, said he is sick and tired of moral victories for the Dublin hurlers.
“I’m sick of moral victories in semifinals to be honest with you. I’d love to get to the final for a change,” said Daly. “But I couldn’t be prouder of the lads. It was a Trojan effort.
“We felt we had a chance ourselves. It was almost the best position, bar the injuries. We would have loved to have the injured lads available.
“Tipp’s experience and decision-making at crucial times defined it. I think we had 21 shots at goals to their 12 in the first half and a handy enough goal early on settled them.
“But I suppose it will be a great final and people will be writing down Tipp now. They were writing down Kilkenny last week so we’ll what happens.”
Daly told reporters after the game that he will consider his own future in the coming weeks after leading the team to the National League title and the All-Ireland semifinals this summer.
“All eggs were in the basket for today, I didn’t think about that,” said Daly when asked about his future as Dublin boss.
“I’ll think about that for the next few weeks. We tried to focus away from the minors today but maybe we watched too much of the minors in the Leinster final. But when we went out and I saw it was six-something to one-something, I thought Jesus, that is some performance. They’ve the potential to go on and win the final.
“There is a lot there for Dublin hurling to build on. The minors had a great win on Sunday and are into the final. The under-21s are in the semifinals next Saturday so there is so much to look forward.
“At the same time days like this don’t come along too often and you have to try and take them. We just felt short today unfortunately.
“At the start of the year if you had handed me what we got I would have taken the hand off you. But when you’re out there and there is two points in it with eight or nine minutes to go and there is a chance to play in the biggest day in the sporting world, well I thought there was a great chance.”
Mayo boss James Horan is backing teenager Cillian O’Connor to make a big impact against Kerry in Sunday’s All-Ireland SFC semifinal at Croke Park.
O’Connor was one of the stars of the show as the westerners shocked All-Ireland champions Cork in the quarterfinal, and Horan expects more of the same from his young star this weekend.
“Cillian is a solid player and a very solid guy. He has done well in the championship games to date. It is no surprise to me,” said Horan.
“I’ve seen Cillian play for years at underage at his club Ballintubber and he is just a very solid guy for a 19-year-old. He has a very good skill set and he is doing well for us.”
Trevor Mortimer, Peadar Gardiner and Mark Ronaldson are all injury doubts for Mayo ahead of their return to Croke Park on Sunday.
All-Ireland winning under-21 boss Alan Mulholland is interested in the role as manager of the Galway senior football team after the County Board dispensed with the services of Tomás Ó Flatharta last week.
Mulholland said, “I was hoping to remain as under-21 manager next year and defend our crown. That was my focus and I was not expecting to have to deal with any issue about the senior job.
“I enjoyed a very good working relationship with Tomás and he and his management were extremely co-operative and helpful to us through the year and that played a big part in our success.
“If I’m nominated I will give it consideration, but we will just have to wait and see what happens.”
Sligo manager and former Galway midfielder Kevin Walsh is also in the running for the job.
Donegal boss Jim McGuinness expects to have playmaker Michael Hegarty fit for the All-Ireland SFC semifinal against Dublin on Sunday, August 28.
“While it is not a major concern and he has the best part of three weeks to recover, Michael’s knee injury is still a concern nevertheless,” said McGuinness.
“You never know with a knee injury, but time is on his side. Hopefully, he’ll have recovered in time.”
Michael Murphy, Leo McLoone, Neil McGee, Christy Toye, David Walsh and Stephen Griffin are all expected to shake off minor injuries in time for the Dublin game.
Armagh boss Paddy O’Rourke wants to stay on for another season at least after a disappointing campaign that saw his team lose to Derry in the Ulster Championship and to Tyrone in the All-Ireland qualifiers.
“I am willing to continue on and if everybody feels that is the best thing for Armagh football I will certainly do my best for Armagh football,” said O’Rourke.
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