Cork 4-8 Tipperary 0-13
By Brendan Larkin
CORK completed the grand slam of Munster hurling titles by defeating Tipperary in a lacklustre Munster U-21 final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last night.
That feat was last achieved by Cork back in 1969, and while there were a couple of hairy moments in this final, there was never any doubt about the outcome after the outstanding Kevin Hartnett drove an 80-metre free all the way to the net with nine minutes to go.
There were many heroes on this Cork side, and none stood out more brightly than centre-back Kevin Hartnett. The senior inter-county man was magnificent, particularly in the first half when Tipperary threatened to walk all over Cork.
In fact the entire defence was outstanding once they found their feet, and the fact that Tipperary never once threatened a goal is testament to just how well they protected their keeper Anthony Nash, who never put a foot wrong, while captain Pat Fitzgerald made a number of timely blocks to deny the Tipp forwards a goal that might have given them the confidence to go on and win the game.
Cork struggled at midfield for long periods, but the introduction of Eoin Cadogan helped to break the Tipp monopoly, and both he and Brendan Barry finished strongly. In attack late substitute Michael Cussen was a revelation, and caused endless problems for Tipp senior Conor O’Mahony.
The Sars man who stands close on 6’6’’ had a hand in two of his side’s goal, and could well have had a pair himself as he used his incredible height to win great ball from the air. Maurice O’Sullivan continues to add to his scoring prowess with another two goals, while the contributions of Diarmuid Dorris, Ronan Conway and substitute Kevin Canty were immense.
Tipperary won the toss and elected to play with the strong wind which blew straight down the field. They drew first blood when Conor O’Brien pointed a free after three minutes and the sides were level a minute later when Diarmuid Dorris did likewise for the home side.
However, the wind was clearly an advantage and as Cork began to labour against a far more committed Tipp side, the visitors, with Niall Teehan well on top at centre-back, hit over four points in a row to lead 0-5 to 0-1 at the end of the first quarter.
In that period Cork mounted only one real attack of menace when Kevin Hartnett drove a long ball deep into the Tipp defence where Michael Cussen appeared to be fouled. There were shouts for a penalty after Cussen fell in the small square but they were brushed aside by the referee who gave a free out much to the annoyance of the partisan Cork following.
Cork settled well after that rare attack and with Kevin Hartnett a commanding figure at centre-back, which forced Tipp to take senior player Francis Devaney off him, the home side grabbed an opportunist goal in the 17th minute.
Winning possession at midfield, Ronan Conway took off on a great run before crossing the sliothar to the far post where it was batted home by the onrushing Maurice O’Sullivan. However, the ease with which Tipperary won possession around the middle of the field was a problem for Cork and they tacked on two further points before Cork hit back for a second goal, made by Michael Cussen and finished by the lively Diarmuid Dorris.
The significance of that score wasn’t lost on Cork as it tied the game with six minutes to the break and they might have had another but for a goal line clearance by Brendan Hanley from Michael Naughton’s effort.
Cork retired at the break on level terms, 2-3 to 0-9 and with the wind to their backs for the second half must have been confident they could deny Tipperary a hat-trick of wins.
Whatever the game lacked in terms of passion and intensity, there was certainly no shortage of scores and after Tony Scroope edged Tipp in front with a point seconds after the resumption, the Cork attack, and in particular Michael Cussen showed just how porous the Tipp defence was when the big full-forward set Maurice O’Sullivan up for his second goal.
Tipp were now clearly struggling in the face of the Cork pressure and the scores began to flow freely. The magnificent Shane O’Neill landed a great point from his own half-back line, quickly followed by a goal from Kevin Hartnett who drove an 80-metre free all the way to the Tipp net to put the home side 4-7 to 0-12 in front and there was no way back for Tipperary.
Scorers: Cork: M. O’Sullivan 2-2 (0-1 free); D. Dorris 1-2; S. O’Neill 0-1 (0-1 free); S. O’Sullivan, M. Naughton, B. Barry 0-1 each; K. Hartnett 1-0. Tipperary: T. Scroope 0-3; C. O’Brien (frees), W. Cully 0-2 each; E. Sweeney, D. Egan (free), T. Fitzgerald, C. Fitzgerald, P. Shortt, R. O’Dwyer 0-1 each.
CORK: A. Nash; P. Fitzgerald, capt; D. McSweeney, E. O’Sullivan; S. O’Neill, K. Hartnett, S. Cronin; B. Barry, PJ Copps; S. O’Sullivan, M. Naughton, R. Conway; M. O’Sullivan, M. Cussen, D. Dorris. Ssubs. K. Canty for S. O’Sullivan; E. Cadogan for Copse; G. O’Leary for Conway; D. Cunningham for Cronin; B. Coleman for Barry.
TIPPERARY: P. McCormack; J. O’Dwyer, C. O’Mahony, B. Hanley; C. O’Brien, N. Teehan, T. Collins; S. McGrath, W. Cully; T. Fitzgerald, F. Devaney, D. Egan; E. Sweeney, T. Scroope, P. Shortt. Subs. R. O’Dwyer for Devaney; P. Stapleton for J. O’Dwyer; K. Bergin for Cully; W. Ryan for Shortt.
Referee: D. Hoey (Clare).