Tipp win Murphy Cup

September 04, 2005
Tipperary's footballers recorded a stunning 3-10 to 0-15 victory over Wexford in the Tommy Murphy Cup final at Croke Park. The Premier County went into the match as rank outsiders but played with plenty of spirit to see off a second-half Wexford fightback and claim a rare national title. Captain Declan Browne returned from injury and produced a match-winning display, including the decisive goal ten minutes from the end. Majors from Aidan Fitzgerald and Damien O'Brien gave the underdogs a comfortable eight-point interval advantage, 2-6 to 0-4. Fitzgerald punched a high delivery powerfully to the net after six minutes and that score had Tipp in the ascendancy for the entire first half. As a disappointing first quarter fizzled out, Tipperary's lead was just a single point but a brace of Declan Browne points in the 17th (free) and 18th minutes left the goal between the teams, 1-2 to 0-2. The first half was very poor fare, played almost in slow motion, with both sides guilty of far too much wayward passing. Wexford looked just a shadow of the team that reached the league final and rattled Dublin in Leinster earlier this year and the fact that Mattie Forde failed to register in the first half speaks for itself. Tricky Tipp corner forward Damien O'Brien provided this tepid and low-key affair with a rare moment of inspiration when he slotted over a majestic point in the 23rd minute to put the Munster county four points to the good, but PJ Banville replied instantly for the Model men. Shane Cullen raided forward to draw the Yellowbellies closer but this was their final score of the half and Tipperary went on to take complete control. Browne's close-range free from the hands restored the Premier County's three-point advantage and O'Brien kicked another beautiful point on the half hour after selling Colm Morris an outrageous dummy. Browne's fourth point - his third from a free - put Tipperary five clear and the 5-1 outsiders got their second goal when O'Brien palmed to an empty net after a strong run and perfect delivery from centre forward Benny Hickey. Wexford were unlucky not to get a goal when John Hudson placed Banville, whose low drive was clearly foot-blocked by Tipp goalkeeper Paul Fitzgerald. The referee waved away the penalty claims, however, and Seamus McCarthy's charges took an eight-point lead into the break. Four Wexford points in the first seven minutes of the second half brought Wexford within four but Benny Hickey steadied Tipp with a fabulous individual effort in the 43rd minute. Mattie Forde pointed a free for Wexford within 30 seconds of the restart and the same player registered from another free further out as the Leinster county closed to within six points. Forde missed a great chance to draw his side closer but the Wexford No.15 then stroked over a neat left-footed effort before John Hegarty opened his account and reduced the arrears to just four points, 2-6 to 0-8. Hickey pointed for Tipp but Wexford corner back Morris raided upfield to inadvertently kick a bizarre point from a seemingly impossible angle. Whether or not the No.4 meant to score is debateable, but they all count. 2-7 to 0-9. Centre back Darragh Breen's point saw Wexford close within three points and Forde missed a great chance to equalise in the 50th minute when he fired a simple close-range effort straight at Tipp goalie Fitzgerald. Tipp had run out of steam and were clinging on for dear life. Diarmuid Kinsella knocked over a mighty point from distance to leave two between them, but Forde uncharacteristically squandered another excellent goal chance when his low shot rolled inched outside the post at the Canal End. It looked like there would only be one winner at this stage, but Declan Brown had other ideas. The Tipp full forward took advantage of hesitancy in the Wexford defence to flick the ball to the net. Tipp had now scored three goals - none of which were kicked. Browne followed up with two great points - one off each foot - while Wexford could only manage a Kinsella reply. There were still four points in it when Forde squeezed over a 66th-minute point, 3-9 to 0-14. Forde delivered his fifth point with three minutes to play and there were no more scores in normal time. Browne brought his personal haul to 1-7 with an injury-time free and Tipp held on for an astonishing victory. After the final whistle, Declan Browne became the first Tipperary man in 75 years to accept a national trophy on behalf of Tipperary football.

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