Cork 2-13 Tipperary 3-8
By Brendan Larkin
SUBSTITUTE Eoin Murphy was Cork's hero at Semple Stadium yesterday after scoring an injury time goal to deny Tipperary their fourth Munster Minor Hurling title in a row.
Cork refused to give up the chase after falling six points behind early in the second half and the title look destined for Tipperary again when they led by a point as the game drifted into injury time.
Cork had wasted a number of chances before the ball broke nicely to the Erin's Own youngster 20 metres out. The equalising point was definitely on, but Murphy showed great coolness and took three steps before blasting the ball to the net to give Cork an unlikely victory.
In one of the best finals in years, these great rivals were level four times in the first half before Shane Long, who scored two goals in last year's decider, repeated that feat and the defending champions forged six points clear after 38 minutes.
Cork refused to be ruffled and a number of brave substitutions were made, not least the substituting of full-back Niall Horgan and, coupled with the introduction of Murphy, it paid a handsome dividend.
Cork owed much to the excellence of their defence, particularly in the last quarter. The Tipp forwards had earlier exposed a number of weaknesses, but there was a vast improvement after Ger O'Driscoll was introduced.
He, along with Mark McCarthy, Brendan Coleman, Eoin Cadogan and Shane O'Neill, took over completely and the fact that Tipperary went 19 minutes without a score is testament to how well Cork recovered.
The switch of Patrick Cronin to full-forward was another crucial move in Cork's win. He finished with seven points, three from that position, while his clubmates Ronan Conway and team captain Shane O'Neill also made telling contributions.
For team coach Denis Ring, it was a particularly pleasing result, as he had suffered three defeats in a row to Tipp. "I'm absolutely delighted, particularly for the manner in which we won, but it's no more than we deserved," said a jubilant Ring.
"In previous finals with Tipperary, we did well for long periods, but failed on the run-in.
"On this occasion, we finished superbly and more importantly, the character of the team, which I never doubted, was seen to great effect.
Tipp elected to play with the aid of a strong wind in the opening half and were quickly off the mark with a Darragh Ryan point after just 10 seconds. It took Cork all of five minutes to get out of their own half, but when they did, Brendan Ring levelled the game with a point and the sides were tied after eight minutes before the potential of the Cork attack was seen.
Corner-forward Cathal Naughton took off on a great run before striking the ball across the face of the Tipperary goal to allow Cathrach Keane to strike home.
Looking for a little more penetration up front, Tipp moved Shane Long to full-forward and he showed his class with a fine goal after 17 minutes. Cork were grateful for Patrick Cronin's accuracy from frees, which kept them in touch, but Tipp's persistence began to pay off.
Darragh Hickey managed to ghost in behind the Cork defence, before taking a pass from Long and before blasting home a goal which helped Tipp to a 2-6 to 1-5 half-time lead.
Again, Cronin's excellent free-taking helped Cork to reduce the deficit to a goal early in the second half, but the Cork attack continued to struggle. They were also troubled by the ease with which Tipperary were able to win possession from the air, and were punished when Ritchie McGrath won a high ball before slipping past a couple of Cork defenders to rattle the netting and put Tipp 3-7 to 1-7 in front.
Finally, Cork made the changes that turned the tide and the Leesiders had the deficit down to the minimum with a succession of points.
It was all Cork in the closing minutes as ball after ball rained in on the Tipp defence. They looked to have weathered the storm as the game drifted into injury time.
However, in one final attack, Murphy became the toast of Cork with the winning goal, and this superb contest was over on the puck-out.
Scorers: Cork - P. Cronin 0-7 (0-4 frees), E. Murphy 1-1, C. Keane 1-0, R. Conway 0-2, B. Ring, P. O'Brien, S. O'Neill (free) 0-1 each. Tipperary - S. Long 2-2, D. Hickey 1-1 (0-1 free), D. Ryan, P. Ivors 0-2 each.
CORK: K. O'Halloran; B. Coleman, N. Horgan, M. McCarthy; E. Cadogan, P. Cotter, S. O'Neill; R. Conway, G. O'Leary; P. Cronin, C. Keane, F. O'Leary; C. Naughton, K. Canty, B. Ring. Subs: E. Murphy for Keane, G. O'Driscoll for Horgan, P. O'Brien for O'Leary.
TIPPERARY: M. Ryan; I. Delaney, J. Heffernan, R. McLoughney; S. O'Brien, J. McCarthy, R. McGrath; J. Dixon, K. Bergin; S. Scully, P. Ivors, J. Woodlock; D. Hickey, D. Egan, S. Long. Subs: N. Bergin for Scully, J. McLoughney for Dixon, S. Lillis for Woodlock.
Referee: E. Hoey (Clare).