Tipperary produced the performance of the year as they rattled seven goals past Waterford in a Munster Hurling final demolition derby at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Sunday.
Lar Corbett grabbed four goals from play and Eoin Kelly got another two as Tipp steamrolled their way to a 7-19 to 0-19 win over a Waterford team simply out of their depth.
Goal hero Corbett insisted complacency won’t become an issue for his team despite their emphatic win in a lop-sided match.
“We’re under no illusions,” said Corbett. “Waterford weren’t up to the pace and they’d accept that themselves. There’s a huge hole there for Tipp to fall into, to get complacent. We’re in an All-Ireland semifinal but we’re under no illusions, we can’t let minds soften.
“We have to drive on to the next level. If we stay at this level we’ll pay the consequences for it next day.
The Tipp hero also tried to downplay his own input to the victory with those four goals.
“It was just great to get the win,” said man of the match Corbett. “It’s all about the team. The supply of ball coming from midfield, half-back -- you don’t need me standing here to tell you the boys are getting the ball in nice and quick.”
Leinster champions Kilkenny will have taken note of Tipperary’s brilliant performance as the stakes were raised in this summer’s championship.
“It was unbelievable really,” admitted Tipp boss Declan Ryan afterwards. “We knew coming down that we were well-prepared.
“We were expecting a huge battle from Waterford but that didn’t materialize. I suppose Waterford won’t be happy with the way they performed on the day but from a Tipperary point of view it was very, very encouraging.
“We know we have scoring power in our forward line. If you get them the right kind of ball they can do damage. Some days they go in the back of the net and some days they don’t. Today they all seemed to. It was a fantastic performance from the players.”
Waterford star John Mullane was so upset by his team’s performance that he apologized to their fans afterwards. “I’d like to personally apologize and on behalf of the team to the all the people of Waterford who traveled to Cork this afternoon,” said Mulane after the game.
“We’ve been down this road before three years ago. At least, unlike 2008, we’ve only got two weeks to think about this, and move on.
“Words can’t describe the feeling in the dressing room. Tipperary were absolute class.”
Ryan’s team may have destroyed Waterford on Sunday, but the Tipp boss can still see Davy Fitzgerald’s team recovering from the heavy defeat.
“There are a lot of fantastic GAA people in Waterford. I’m sure they will come back from it. It is a heavy defeat and they certainly won’t be happy with the way they played but I have no doubt they will be back,” added Ryan.
Dublin boss Pat Gilroy admitted his team had to win ugly against Wexford in Sunday’s Leinster senior football final, a game that saw star forward Bernard Brogan substituted after failing to reach his own high standards.
Gilroy’s team relied on two second half goals, one of them after a costly error from Wexford ‘keeper Anthony Masterson, to secure the Delaney Cup on a 2-12 to 1-12 scoreline.
“We learnt to win in a very ugly way,” said Gilroy as Dublin advanced to the All-Ireland quarterfinals on the bank holiday weekend at the start of August.
“We’ve been put under severe pressure in different parts of the field. Today we were dealing with two or three men back in front of our full-forward line, and we found it difficult to break it down.
“We still managed to score 2-12, and I know we have a fortuitous goal, but it was still good to get that kind of score when the entire full-forward really didn’t play that well.”
Gilroy had no problem defending his decision to take Brogan off in the final quarter, and even conceded he might have done it earlier but for injury worries elsewhere in his forward line.
“You don’t expect Bernard to miss the ones that he did today, but we still came out the right side of it,” said Gilroy.
“Only for Eoghan O’Gara getting injured we might have taken Bernard off a bit earlier. He is human. He’s allowed have the odd off day, and in fairness to him he hasn’t done that for a long time.”
Dubs captain Bryan Cullen believes the real season starts now for his team.
“I would have said to the lads before the game that no matter what happened here today, it wasn’t going to define our season because there was always going to be another opportunity,” he said.
“As far as we are concerned the season starts now for us. Hopefully we have three really big games to come. We know we have a huge amount to improve on because what we did out there won’t be enough to win an All-Ireland quarterfinal so at least we have a bit to work on.”
Cullen also acknowledged that Dublin were far from at their best in Sunday’s win.
“There will certainly be no-one tipping us to win the All-Ireland after that performance anyway,” he said.
“It’s probably no harm to come in under the radar a little bit and that is going to refocus lads hugely. We have a lot of work to do. You can see that from both halves.
Wexford were gutted to lose by just three points, but manager Jason Ryan refused to point any blame at his goalkeeper.
“Maybe the goal was the killer but the point that came after was just as bad,” said Ryan.
“Dublin have a habit of getting a goal and then getting the next point or the next score because the goal hits you and then when you’re down you get a kick in the gonads.
“There was nobody at fault. You can’t blame the goalkeeper.”
Galway boss Tomas O Flatharta has defended Cormac Bane’s decision to go for a match winning goal rather than take a point and send Saturday’s thrilling All-Ireland qualifier against Meath into extra-time.
Bane was sent clean through on goal with just seconds remaining as his team trailed Meath by a point in Navan, but Royals goalie Brendan Murphy produced a stunning save to seal victory for the home side just minutes after Stephen Brey had scored the decisive point.
“I think he was very close to the goalkeeper, whether he could have punched it or not I don’t know but there was a goal opportunity on,” said Ó Flathárta.
“I think he did the right thing in going for the goal. Nine times out of 10 I would say he would have scored that. We are not trying to get any scapegoats, Cormac had a good game. We go down as a team, that’s the way we do it.
“It’s very disappointing to lose. We were down four points at half time but in the second half we put in a tremendous display.
“We kept Meath to one point in normal time which was great work by our defenders and by our forwards as well. We showed great battling qualities in the second half. We went very, very close. I suppose we did have an opportunity at the end but that’s sport for you.”
Meath kicked some woeful wides on the night and scored just three second half points, two of them in added time, before eventually winning by just a point, 0-11 to 0-10.
“We mixed the best football we played all year with the worst football we played all year. But we just wanted to be in the drum and we’re in it,” said Meath boss Seamus McEnaney afterwards.
“They showed the sort of character you’d expect from Meath down the years. A point down going into injury-time and we dug out a result. On the plus side, we had 35 or 36 shots on goal and a load of wides and we’ve a lot of things we can work on.
“We created plenty of scoring chances and if some of them had been converted at the start of the second half, we could have run out easy winners.”
Meath will host Kildare in a mouth watering All-Ireland qualifier in Navan this Saturday evening, a repeat of the Leinster Championship clash earlier this summer which the Lilywhites won. The game is live on RTE with a 7 p.m. throw-in, local time.
Antrim host Down in Casement Park while Limerick entertain Waterford in the Gaelic Grounds, also with 7 p.m. starts.
The make-up of the final third round qualifier will have to wait until after Saturday’s second round replay between Wicklow and Armagh in Aughrim with the winners to play Tyrone.