CORK made it a hat-trick of titles by defeating Tipperary in a keenly contested ESB Munster MHC final at Thurles yesterday.
It was a victory that looked unlikely for 40 minutes when the Premier County led 1-12 to 0-10. But two smashing goals by the Leesiders turned the tie and broke Tipperary hearts.
It took Cork an age to stamp their authority, and it was only when they made two important substitutions that they eventually broke the Tipp challenge.
Joe Moran was replaced at full back and Stephen White came into midfield for Tomas Murray — thereafter the champions finally took control.
Paudie O’Sullivan began to hurl with great skill at wing back, Adrian Mannix got on top at centre back but it was in attack where the biggest Cork improvement came. Pat Horgan sparkled at corner forward while Donagh Stack, Robert White and Colm O’Neill thrived on a greater supply of ball.
White was a revelation for Cork, and got one of the most magnificent goals you’re ever likely to see scored at this hallowed ground. Winning possession 45 metres from goal, he took off a great run, beating at least four defenders before planting the ball in the net.
Tipperary wasted little time in getting into their stride and had two points on the board inside the opening minute. Their hurling was more assured than Cork’s, particularly their handling in the air, and it took the champions six minutes to open their account with a Danny O’Callaghan point.
A whistle-happy referee denied both sides scoring chances, opting to recall play to award frees after players were through on goal.
Tipp’s outfield superiority was eventually reflected on the scoresheet with a goal after 12 minutes. A massive free by goalkeeper John Ryan from his own 20 metre line was caught superbly by Tony Dunne and he gave the Cork keeper no chance from the edge of the small square.
The champions recovered from that with three points in a row.
Both sides swapped points before the referee again penalised a Cork forward, Pat Horgan, awarding a free after the player had broken through.
However, Tipperary were finding it that bit easier to penetrate up front and only the thickness of the post denied Pa Bourke a goal in the 28th minute, but they were full value for their half-time lead of 1-9 to 0-8.
Cork tried to remedy their defensive problems by taking off full back Joe Moran and bringing on Brian Nunan. The Leesiders began to hurl with a lot more purpose and Pat Horgan was denied a goal by an excellent save by John Ryan at the expense of a 65.
Colm O’Sullivan and Adrian Mannix were dominating in defence, and from a superb clearance by O’Sullivan, Cork hit the front for the first time when Colm O’Neill finished to the net.
The goal completely rattled Tipperary and Cork finally started to hurl like champions, hitting over a succession of points before eventually killing off the Tipp challenge with that wonder goal by White.
Scorers: Cork: P. Horgan 0-7 (0-6 frees); R. White 1-2; C. O’Neill 1-1; D. O’Callaghan 0-3; D. Stack, L. Desmond 0-2 each; T. Murray, B. Corry, P. O’Sullivan 0-1 each. Tipperary: P. Bourke 0-6 (frees); T. Dunne 1-3; B. Maher 0-2; E. Hogan, S. Hennessy, N. Bergin, J. McLoughney (free) 0-1 each.
CORK: M. Collins; J. O’Callaghan, J. Moran, C. O’Driscoll; S. O’Riordan, A. Mannix, P. O’Sullivan; T. Murray, L. Desmond; R. White, B. Corry, D. Stack; C. O’Neill, D. O’Callaghan, P. Horgan.
Subs: B. Nunan for Moran; S. White for Murray.
TIPPERARY: J. Ryan; M. Cahill, P. Maher, D. Maher; E. Hogan, T. Stapleton, W. O’Dwyer; J. McLoughney, B. Maher; S. Hennessy, N. Bergin, G. Ryan; S. Callinan, T. Dunne, P. Bourke.
Subs: M. Gleeson for Callinan; S. Burke for P. Bourke; T. McGrath for G. Ryan; N. McGrath for Hennessy.
Referee: J. O’Mahony (Limerick).