Allianz National Hurling League Division 1A
CORK 1-16 TIPPERARY 1-29
Facing possible elimination from the National Hurling League today, Tipperary secured the victory they needed over Cork – and a favourable result elsewhere – to not alone avoid an early exit but propel themselves into a quarter-final next weekend against Dublin.
If today's result pleases team manager Liam Sheedy, the performance produced by his charges will warm the hearts of all Tipperary hurling followers who haven’t exactly had too much to cheer of late. But in Páirc Uí Rinn this afternoon, Tipperary saved their best wine till their last game of the campaign and hurled Cork off the park to win be a non-flattering 13 points in the end.
In nine competitive hurling games beginning with last year’s disappointing league final against Kilkenny in Nowlan Park, Tipperary had won only once – the opening game of this campaign against Clare – but today they brought some rays of sunshine back from their week’s training camp in Spain. Right from the off the effort and attitude was totally focused on the important job in hand and once they hit the front in the 10th minute they opened the throttle and had Cork blown away by half-time at which stage Tipperary led by ten points, 0-16 to 0-6.
In a four-minute spell of dominance in that opening period Tipp hit five points without reply with the hosts visibly at sixes-and-sevens trying to cope with a forward line that was at last clicking into place.
By game’s end all six Tipperary forwards and both midfielders would be on the scoreboard, but it was a solid display all round that knocked the swagger out of Cork following their recent league win over the All-Ireland champions Limerick.
Tipp had to play into the strong breeze for the second half, and it was expected and it was needed from Cork to come out with all guns blazing. However, four minutes after the re-start it was Tipp who blazed home the first goal. A delivery into the Cork half-back line fell kindly for Jason Forde and he gathered the ball, drove on and then blasted past Anthony Nash. Indeed Tipperary could have had another two of three green flags over the course of the second half with Patrick 'Bonner' Maher, Seamus Callanan and Michael Breen all having efforts thwarted.
By the 53rd minute Tipperary had stretched their advantage to a massive 19 points – aided by three superb points in three minutes from Callanan and a brace from Breen.
As if things weren’t bad enough for Cork, they lost their centre-forward Seamus Harnedy, for reacting with a low strike on James Barry in the 55th minute, totally out of frustration.
The last quarter of an hour was played out as the Cork supporters started to dwindle slowly towards the exits. They did pull back a goal on the hour mark when Conor Lehane showed a deft touch on the sideline to set up Aidan Walsh and the dual star got enough on a low pull to find the back of the Tipp net. It was mere consolation really.
Tipperary somewhat took their foot off the pedal over the concluding stages with Cork outscoring them by 0-6 to 0-3 over the last 10 minutes. It didn't go unnoticed with team manager Liam Sheedy when he spoke later, but overall he too was very pleased with this improved display.
Tipperary were never in danger of being caught late on, and the only possible way they could be denied a quarter-final berth was a draw between Wexford and Kilkenny; the Yellow Bellies prevailed to put an end to that concern.
On the day Jason Forde was scorer-supreme with a massive haul of 1-13 before he limped off in the 57th minute – initial dressingroom diagnosis suggests it is nothing too serious. But there was plenty also to admire about the play of Niall O’Meara who popped up everywhere, a returned pep in the step of John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer, a powerful display in the centre of the park by Michael Breen who ended the game with six points from play, and from John McGrath, especially in the first half when he played almost as a half-back and cleaned up a lot of available ball.
In defence Cathal Barrett, Joe O’Dwyer and James Barry had their moments; a composed defence limited free-scoring opportunities for Patrick Horgan and with that a sizeable chunk of the Cork scoring threat was eliminated also.
Scorers for Tipperary: Jason Forde 1-13 (0-8f, 0-1 ’65), Michael Breen 0-6, Seamus Callanan 0-3 (0-1f), Jake Morris, Niall O’Meara 0-2 each, Noel McGrath, John McGrath, John O’Dwyer 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cork: Patrick Horgan 0-6 (0-4f, 0-1 ’65), Conor Lehane 0-4, Aidan Walsh 1-0, Bill Cooper, Mark Coleman, Shane Kingston, Robbie O’Flynn, Luke Meade, Alan Cadogan 0-1 each.
Paul Maher (Moyne-Templetuohy), Cathal Barrett (Holycross-Ballycahill), James Barry (Upperchurch-Drombane), Joe O’Dwyer (Killenaule), Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Padraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Robert Byrne (Portroe), Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Michael Breen (Ballina), John O’Dwyer (Killenaule), Jason Forde (Silvermines), Jake Morris (Nenagh Eire Óg), John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Seamus Callanan (Drom-Inch) (captain), Niall O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonaghs)
Subs: Patrick 'Bonner' Maher (Lorrha-Dorrha) for Forde (injured) (59); Alan Flynn (Kiladangan) for Joe O’Dwyer (60); Barry Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg) for O’Meara (64); Mark Kehoe (Kilsheelan-Kilcash) for Callanan (68).
Anthony Nash, Darren Browne, Damien Cahalane, Stephen McDonnell, Christopher Joyce, Tim O’Mahony, Eoin Cadogan, Cormac Murphy, Bill Cooper, Dan Dooley, Seamus Harnedy (captain), Aidan Walsh, Patrick Horgan, Conor Lehane, Alan Cadogan
Subs: Shane Kingston for Alan Cadogan (injured) (33); Mark Coleman for Eoin Cadogan (half-time); Luke Meade for Dooley (half-time); Robbie O’Flynn for Murphy (52); Jack O’Connor for Walsh (injured) (71).
Referee: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny).