It's the semi final that dare not speak its name mark two. No one will hear of Tipp v Kilkenny mark three not happening. You sense that even if Dublin weren't shorn of five members of their panel a similar level of confidence would still be permeating from the Premier; hubris being something that has never been far from the surface down those parts. One could argue that if Keaney, Brady et al were available Tipp, with one eye on Kilkenny, could have been in for a rude awakening. Talk of the B team taking the scalp of the A team in a training match is being showcased as an example of the rude health the All-Ireland champions are in, post their Munster coronation. It could though be equally posited as a sign that Tipp's first choice back line is not one that should grace a team for the ages. We shall keep an eye on the evidence but just point out at this stage that if Brendan Maher is back to his best after injury John O'Keeffe, or Gearoid Ryan come to that, shouldn't be keeping him from the first fifteen.
Declan Ryan possibly feels, deep down, that he can keep Maher's powder dry, and that twenty or so minutes will suffice today for the Borrisleigh man. Looking at the match in microcosm, it could still be a slightly risky strategy. Anthony Daly will presumably hurl Liam Rushe or Ryan O'Dwyer into his parish hoping to crack O' Keeffe. Indeed the Dublin manager would have some cause to feel , despite the onerous blow to the depth of his panel, that he can compete in most areas. Paul Ryan and a back to form Dotsie O' Callaghan could win ball against a Tipp full back line that has coped rather than excelled thus far. At the other side of the field Dublin's full back line has actually played admirably in the last three halves of combat, although today is still a step up.
It is though in their half back line ( ironically not an area the currently peerless Lar Corbett will feature much ) that you would fear for Dublin. Shane Durkin had his least prepossessing game of the year in the quarter final. Joey Boland has been slow to recover from injury, albeit the last 20 minutes against Limerick were a slight encouragement. Beside him though Michael Carton, only recently returned to the panel, is seriously thrown in at the deep end with only the Limerick game behind him. The inclusion of Carton and Liam Ryan in the starting team is an indication of the fraying at the edges of the Dublin panel, albeit also an indictment of the trust management have in the likes of Mossie O'Brien, Simon Lambert and Daire Plunkett for such a big game.
Dublin will doubtless need their opponents to be bereft of the stardust their forwards sprinkled on the Munster Championship. Indeed it isn't necessarily in Tipp's interest for them to let leash fire and brimstone today. Tipp's luck, - that of the more I practice variety- is liable to desert them someday, and it's perhaps best that it isn't against a team orchestrated by Henry Shefflin. Dublin also need Peter Kelly to have the game of his life and Conor McCormack to return to the bustling nuisance of the league final. Premier overconfidence may have been fatal versus a full strength Dublin xv. Some of the garlands thrown at them in previews have been excessive: Admirably and all as he's maturing Eoin Kelly is not the player of 5/6 years ago. As it is though they should be able to get over the line in whatever gear they choose. The implications of sauntering as opposed to stomping to the decider can be left for another day.
p.s My reader may be puzzled understandably at the absence of any mention of tactics in the preview. If it is an ommission, as Dublin seek to minimise the gulf between the starting XV's, it's perhaps an indication that the blogger is as tired writing about them as he is viewing hurling matches riddled with them.