See why Cork man Justin McCarthy feels Tipp will prevail on Sunday.
The genial Justin who is still one of the most astute observers of the game made 24 senior appearances for Cork in a career which lasted from 1964 - 1974. And, his Coaching exploits also took him to the likes of Antrim and Clare as he spread the hurling gospel far and wide - a gospel which is based, in Justin’s belief, on stickwork, ballplay, speed and skill.
“My feeling at the moment is that Tipperary are just slightly ahead of Cork at the present time in the sense that they have more stand out forwards who can win the game for them on any given day,” the Passage clubman told The Tipperary Star this week.
Admitting to being very excited about the game and that he cannot wait for Sunday Justin added;
“Cork will not be afraid of Tipperary but I would say that Tipp cannot afford to give Cork too much respect either. If Tipp are to win they have to play to their full potential and I don’t think we have seen that for a full game so far this season.
“There is always a question about the length of the layoff for Cork from the Munster Final. But, my theory on that would be simple enough - the match day focus is all important and that only comes into play in the last few days before the game, so the layoff should not be an excuse as far as I am concerned,” he said.
There have been many great clashes between Cork and Tipperary through the decades - Justin was part of many of them - but over the years the styles have been quite different. The game has evolved though and speed of movement and thought are now so crucial to the success of any side. So much so, that teams can now bear remarkable similarities - almost as though they are being coached out of the same handbook. Perhaps they are, to an extent and with Tipperary and Cork, you can always expect a real hurling game.
“The two teams are quite similar really and I am expecting the match to be a really good game of hurling with high enough scoring. I think Tipp might have a little bit more going for them in the forward line and of course frees will be very important.
“There are a lot of scores coming from frees now and with the speed of the game and the pace at which players are travelling, it is much easier to give away frees, or to win them, whichever way you want to look at it.
The two teams have great stickwork, inter linking and can play short passes if they need to. I know Tipp went through a rocky patch earlier in the season but I think they have matured, learned from their mistakes, and are very much in the hunt now again,” Justin said.
There was no backdoor back in his day hurling for Cork but he still managed to win three Munster titles and one All-Ireland. he also has two National Hurling League medals and he loved to hurl against Tipperary.
Of course Justin also coached Cashel to win the County senior hurling final in Tipperary back in 1991 and they went on to win the Munster club championship that year also, having been defeated twelve months previously in the county final by Holycross Ballycahill.
“I suppose the one good thing about the current system is that the two counties are meeting each other at this stage in Croke Park. I don’t think too many would be too put out if it was in Thurles either, but there you go. It will be quite a unique occasion and may the best team win.
“Cork are Munster champions and had a good win over Limerick in the Munster Final. But, I still feel they have a bit to go. They have improved steadily alright and the two All-Ireland Final appearances last year will help them. but, they didn’t win either of them and they were there for the taking. The side is maturing and were they win on Sunday it would be a massive boost to the them and to the county to be back in the All-Ireland Final. I’m not writing them off at all, but I do feel that they need a really big performance to get over a Tipp side which has a lot of momentum going into the semi-final.
“Pleas eGod we’ll have a great game of hurling,” he said.