Munster rivals set to square off again after nail-biting Thurles draw

Tipperary 1-23 Cork 1-23

A high-scoring draw at Semple Stadium this afternoon ensured that Tipperary and Cork both advanced to the semi-finals of the Allianz National Hurling League.

And the two ancient rivals will face off against each other on April 22 in the last four after Cork finished in second place in Division 1A of the competition, with Tipp occupying third spot.

The teams were level 10 times in front of 10,150 spectators in Thurles today as Cork showed admirable resilience to come from four points down in the second half to claim a draw.

With just six minutes left, the Rebels trailed by three points, 1-19 to 1-22, but finished with a flourish to claim a share of the spoils.

Pat Horgan, Pa Cronin and sub John Gardiner shot successive points for Cork as they drew level but Shane Bourke looked to have won it for Tipp with a 70th minute point.

There was still time for Cork to rally, however, as Patrick Horgan shot his ninth point of a productive afternoon to tie the scores again.

At the end of a remarkably free-flowing first half, Cork led by 0-13 to 0-11, with Horgan contributing four points from play.

Out of the 24 scores registered before the break, 22 came from play as Tipp’s Pa Bourke and Cork’s William Egan hit a free each.

Eight minutes elapsed before referee Barry Kelly blew for a free and seven minutes later, Egan scored the first converted free of the game after the sides had managed eleven scores from play.

While the points flowed freely, there was just the one goal chance in the opening half and it was a good one too.

Two minutes before half-time, Brian O’Meara found himself through one-on-one with only Donal Óg Cusack to beat but the full-forward hit a tame effort straight at the Cork custodian.

But Tipp did find the game’s opening goal in the 38th minute and it came courtesy of leading scorer Pa Bourke.

The Thurles Sarsfields man was fouled by Seán Óg Ó’hAilpín outside the 20-metre line and the wing-forward went for the jugular with the resultant free, drilling a powerful strike passed the massed ranks on the Cork goalline.

That score essentially separated the teams until teen sensation Conor Lehane, who has made a phenomenal impact during this year’s National League, scored a 56th minute goal for Cork at the Killinan End.

That strike brought Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s Leesiders to within a point, after they had trailed by 0-17 to 1-18, and the fightback was on.

Tipp did rally again to lead by four points, 1-21 to 1-17, with ten minutes remaining but Cork finished better down the home straight to snatch a draw.

The venue for the semi-final has yet to be confirmed, with Cork reportedly pushing for a home venue, while a Tipperary source indicated that a ‘home and away’ agreement may be in place.

If that is the case, Tipperary will be entitled to home advantage for what will be the third meeting between the sides this year, following the Waterford Crystal Cup semi-final and today’s clash.

TIPPERARY: B Cummins; D Maher, P Curran, M Cahill; T Stapleton (0-1), C O’Mahony, P Maher (0-1); B Maher, J Woodlock (0-1); G Ryan (0-2), N McGrath (0-5), P Bourke (1-6, 1-2f); S Bourke (0-3), B O’Meara, J O’Brien (0-3).

Subs: S McGrath for Ryan (h.t.), E Kelly (0-1) for O’Meara (48), T Hammersley for N McGrath (55), J Ryan for Woodlock (59), A Ryan for B Maher (70).

CORK: D Óg Cusack; S O’Neill, S McDonnell, B Murphy; S Óg Ó’hAilpín, E Cadogan, W Egan (0-1f); L McLoughlin, D Sweetnam (0-3); C Lehane (1-2), P Cronin (0-1), C Naughton (0-4); J Coughlan (0-2), P O’Sullivan, P Horgan (0-9, 3f).

Subs: L O’Farrell for Coughlan (58), T Kenny for Sweetnam (63), J Gardiner (0-1) for McLoughlin (69).

Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath).

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