By Brian McDonnell
ALTHOUGH Eoin Kelly was eager to praise the display of Dublin in Sunday’s semi-final the Mullinahone man was also careful to highlight the fact that a similar Tipp performance against Kilkenny would butter no parsnips in the All-Ireland final.
“That performance will not win an All-Ireland,” Eoin Kelly told the Tipperary Star.
“Look, going into the final now we have bags of stuff to work on. It’s probably a nice way to be going in, but if we send out another one of them performances we won’t get what we want.
“We would not be happy with that today, but we don’t care. If we play bad the next day and you have one point win on the board when it’s over and the whistle goes we’ll take it. But that performance today would not do it against Kilkenny.
“We will take positives out of it as well, but as I said objective achieved, we got the win and we’re happy out. We’re the happier dressing room, we got the result and that’s what it’s all about.”
Kelly, who was withdrawn by the Tipperary management team late in the game, also paid to tribute to a magnificent Dublin display, a display the Tipperary captain had expected.
“They beat us in the league and they beat us in the league last year and today we got the exact same high-intensity game that you need at the top level to be successful and Dublin can play as well,” Kelly said.
“Look, if we were told coming up here today that you are going to win by three or four points we would have gladly taken it so job done, back into the All-Ireland final and we’re delighted.”
Dublin’s tackling technique on Sunday was exceptional with the Tipp forwards, time and again, caught in the possession of the ball. And, Eoin Kelly acknowledged that fact while also highlighting how hard it was to elude the Dublin defence.
“Yeah, they have probably worked on bringing a bit of the football tactics into it, but they are able to play as well. They are able to hit the ball over the bar and they are able to move so they have more than just one tactic.
“They are a force to be reckoned with for the future and you will be covering a few more All-Ireland semi-finals and All-Ireland finals down the road with Dublin involved. The supporters and the media had Tipp hyped up, but this brings us all right back down to earth.
“If they had their four main players that they were missing who knows what the outcome would have been.
“We’re not going to worry about that because you can’t, we’re through and that’s all that matters.”
Following a quiet opening half Noel McGrath grew into the game after the break. Indeed, the Loughmore-Castleiney man made a telling contribution in the second half scoring two points from play and then sensationally converted a sideline ball in the 67th minute, a vital score which pushed Tipp three points clear.
“We all knew that Dublin were going to be a big test for us today and they were,” an obviously relieved Noel McGrath said.
“We are just delighted that we got over the line there in the finish.
“You would have to give credit to Dublin,” McGrath added.
“We’ve seen them all year. They have been putting in good performances and getting good results. We were not expecting anything different than what we got today.
“To be honest we are delighted, we would have taken a one-point win there today and we are just delighted that we got any kind of a win.”
McGrath was also disappointed with his display in the first half and was delighted to get his hands on the ball in the second.
“In the first half up in the forwards we didn’t get a lot of ball and only for Larry (Corbett) in the forwards in the first half, scoring the few points he kept us in it. I suppose it kind of opened up a bit in the second half and we got more ball. We’re delighted with the way the team performed and dug out a good result.”
“You have to be ready for any eventuality that comes up,” Noel McGrath explained as he reflected on Dublin’s use of John McCaffrey as a seventh defender.
“I suppose we kind of thought that they would play an extra man back and they did. It worked to their advantage, but at the other end Michael Cahill (operating as the free man in the Tipperary full-back line) got a lot of ball.
“The game was very physical there today.
“There was a lot of hits going in, there were body hits and hurleys as well which was all fair and hard and tough.
“We’re delighted to get a good tough game and we’ll settle down from tomorrow; we’ve three weeks to the All-Ireland and from tomorrow on we will be focusing on that.”
Noel McGrath also insisted that suggestions that a Tipp-Kilkenny final was a foregone conclusion did not impede on the panel’s preparations.
“Outside of the panel of players, management and the back room team they were all talking about a Tipp-Kilkenny All-Ireland,” McGrath said.
“We heard it going on in fairness, but we knew that we were not going to get anything easy today.
“Dublin showed that out there and I am just thankful that we had our minds focused on today and that we got the result.
“That was as tough and as hard and as fast as anything we’ve played in a long time. An All-Ireland final is a different story again and we’ll see now over the next few weeks. We will tune ourselves up and hopefully we will be ready for it.”