Tipperary and Cork finish level after lively bout of shadow boxing by the Lee

Allianz National Hurling League Division 1

Allianz National Hurling League Division 1

Cork 1-14 Tipperary 1-14

They may be All-Ireland champions and showing signs of steady improvement from their early season rustiness, but ahead of the teams’ Championship clash in eight weeks time Tipp might be concerned that they have now failed to beat Cork in their last three meetings, twice in the league and once in the Championship.

At least this latest encounter finished level, a fitting conclusion to a game that had been level nine times, although the draw does little for either side’s prospects of reaching the final. Cork thought they had snatched a last-gasp victory but just as the cheers of the home supporters rose to acclaim victory Ben O’Connor’s additional time free struck a post and was cleared.

Coincidentally, Tipp also struck a post from Pa Bourke’s ’65 only a couple of minutes earlier.

Tipp finished the game with 14 players after John O’Brien received a second yellow card two minutes from the end for an off-the-ball incident involving Eoin Cadogan that also earned the Cork player a yellow card. O’Brien’s involvement in that altercation seemed to have stemmed from his annoyance at a high challenge near the sideline moments earlier that went unpunished.

Of more concern to the visitors, however, will be another addition to their growing injury list. Paddy Stapleton was stretchered off with suspected damage to his ribs after a quarter of an hour when he fell heavily when jumping for a ball with Michael Cussen. He now joins fellow casualties Eoin Kelly, Brendan Maher, Seamus Callanan and Seamus Hennessy on the sidelines.

After a drab opening period in front of an attendance of 7,782, the second half was much more of a contest. Tipp were ahead by 0-7 to 0-6 at half time but Cork sprung quickly from traps on the re-start. They found the net after just 40 seconds when the ever-dangerous Luke O’Farrell stuck a low shot inside Brendan Cummins’ near post after the Tipp goalie had made a fine save from Michael Cussen.

Cork added points from Cathal Naughton and Cian McCarthy and suddenly they were 4 points clear within as many minutes of the re-start. Tipp may have been caught napping but they quickly regained their composure. After 5 minutes half time substitute Brian O’Meara showed great skill to set Benny Dunne free and the Toomevara player soloed clear before flicking the ball past Donal Og Cusack to bring them right back into contention.

They completed that positive response to Cork’s second half surge when Pa Bourke converted a ’65 two minutes later (1-8 each). It was tit-for-tat after that, with the next eight scores divided equally.

Pa Cronin, who was always prominent in Cork’s midfield, caught a puckout and scored, with Benny Dunne – who capped an encouraging display at wing forward with 1-2 from play – replying.

Gearoid Ryan, who had a fine game at midfield, then edged Tipp ahead before Ben O’Connor equalised from a free. Cork substitute Jerry O’Connor scored an excellent point from his own half before Noel McGrath landed his third point from play. Pa Bourke restored Tipp’s lead with his only point from play, only for another Ben O’Connor free to tie the scores up again.

Tipp weren’t getting enough of a supply into two of their star forwards, Lar Corbett and Noel McGrath, while the old familiar fault of failing to win enough ball in the half forward line looked to be returning to haunt them. Yet for all that they appeared to be pulling clear at just the right time when points from Brian O’Meara and John O’Brien in quick succession six minutes from the end put daylight between them again.

However Cork were right back in the mix when Ben O’Connor converted another free and John Gardiner, who looked sharp all afternoon, struck the final score from another free to leave it all square.

On a pleasant spring afternoon neither side went at it full tilt in advance of their more important date at the end of May. Tipp played Padraic Maher at centre back and he mopped up and cleared an amount of ball. Alongside him John O’Keeffe, and especially David Young had their moments, before the latter was forced to depart with a finger injury in the final minute.

Paul Curran, captain for the day in the absence of both Eoin Kelly and Conor O’Mahony, was always steady at full back and had the measure of Michael Cussen.

Tipp were the much more assured team in the early exchanges, picking off points from Pa Bourke’s ’65, Noel McGrath and Benny Dunne (when he robbed Jamie Nagle) to build a 3-points lead after 5 minutes.

Cork responded well, striking 3 points in as many minutes from the sprightly Luke O’Farrell (from a tight angle), Cian McCarthy and John Gardiner’s free.

Noel McGrath and Ben O’Connor (from a free) traded scores before Paddy Stapleton departed on a stretcher. Throughout the game Lar Corbett spent too much time in positions that were too far from the Cork posts but on the one occasion that he did catch the ball and made a beeline for the goal, in the 19th minute, he was fouled by Stephen McDonnell, who stuck to him like glue all afternoon, as he tried to wriggle free from the Cork defender’s clutches.

Pa Bourke’s effort at a goal from the resulting free was blocked when he should have taken a point, and the Sarsfields player was off target from the ’65 that followed in the same attack. However he made amends with a converted free in the 25th minute.

After a lively opening, neither side seemed capable of stamping its authority on a game that offered fairly typical League fare as the first half progressed. Cork went ahead with points from Ronan Curran (when he was picked out by John Gardiner’s intelligent pass from a free) and Cian McCarthy’s cut from a disputed line ball.

However Tipp replied with two points of their own to ensure they held a slight advantage at the break. Both came from Pa Bourke, who scored from a free following a foul on Shane McGrath and then from another free when Benny Dunne was fouled.

That set it up nicely for a more competitive second half that sufficiently whetted the appetite for that May 29th meeting in Thurles.

Tipperary – Brendan Cummins, Michael Cahill, Paul Curran (captain), Paddy Stapleton, David Young, Padraic Maher, John O’Keeffe, Gearoid Ryan (0-1), Shane McGrath, Benny Dunne (1-2), Noel McGrath (0-3), Patrick Maher, Shane Bourke, Pa Bourke (0-6 including 3 frees and 2 ‘65s) and Lar Corbett.

Substitutes – Eddie Connolly for Paddy Stapleton (15 minutes), Brian O’Meara (0-1) for Shane Bourke (half time), John O’Brien (0-1) for Patrick Maher (57 minutes), Michael Gleeson for Shane McGrath (61 minutes) and John Coghlan for David Young (70 minutes).

Cork – Donal Og Cusack, Stephen McDonnell, Eoin Cadogan (captain), Shane Murphy, John Gardiner (0-2 frees), Ronan Curran (0-1), Brian Murphy, Lorcan McLoughlin, Pa Cronin (0-1), Tom Kenny, Cian McCarthy (0-3 including 1 sideline), Cathal Naughton (0-1), Ben O’Connor (0-4 frees), Michael Cussen and Luke O’Farrell (1-1).

Substitutes – Jerry O’Connor (0-1) for Lorcan McLoughlin (32 minutes), Niall McCarthy for Cathal Naughton (53 minutes), Patrick Hogan for Tom Kenny (55 minutes), Paudie O’Sullivan for Michael Cussen (57 minutes) and Bill Cooper for Cian McCarthy (67 minutes).

Referee – Michael Wadding (Waterford).