This will be the third consecutive meeting in the decider for these great rivals with Tipperary chasing a hat-tricks of wins.
Their coach Fr. Tom Fogarty is under no illusions about the importance of tonight’s game. “It’s the county’s last chance of winning a bit of silverware, and naturally we would dearly like to win but going down to Cork is never easy, and we’ll have to be at our very best if we are to retain our title.
“While the senior defeat is difficult to take, we’d be hoping our lads bounce back from it fairly quickly. Young lads at 19/20 years old are very resilient and they tend to look forward to the next game.
“Despite being without the seniors, we have prepared well for this final. It’s only our second game in the championship while Cork will be playing their third.
“In the semi-final Limerick made it very difficult for us, but we hung in there and pulled away at the finish. However that form wouldn’t be good enough to beat Cork. There is a lot of talk about three in-a-row, but we put no emphasis on it. Tonight’s final is the one that matters, and it’s important that we win and restore a bit of pride back to Tipperary hurling.
“Looking further down the road, this is a learning process for our lads. If they’re going to make it, they must go to places like Pairc Uí Chaoimh and win. Fellas like Nicky English and Seán Óg Ó hAilpín didn’t make it by hurling in small, out of the way pitches. They performed on the bigger stages and I would be hoping our lads would step out over that white line, stand up and be counted tonight. If we don’t, we won’t win.”
Tipp won the 2003 final by three points after extra time and were successful last year by a similar margin.
Cork were anything but impressive in their earlier games, against Waterford and Clare and coach Sean O’Gorman knows the difficulty of their task.
“We need to get off to a good start if we are to have any chance.We are up against a very experienced team chasing their third title in a row, and we need everything going for us to have any chance”, said O’Gorman.
“There have been better Cork U21 teams, but you won’t find a more committed group of players. They’ll run and run and give their very best. A clean sweep of the hurling titles would be nice, but we are only concerned with winning our own grade. There has been nothing between us in recent years and I expect tonight’s final to be no exception.
“I would like to win it for Kevin Hartnett and Michael Naughton’s sakes. This is their third final in a row and so far they have nothing to show for it. Our defence is possibly the strongest part of our team and the outcome may come down to how our forwards fare against the Tipp backs.
“We will have to up our performance considerably if we are to stop Tipp. The occasion shouldn’t pose a problem for either side as they have met previously at this level and minor.
“Hopefully tonight we can enjoy a slice of luck and with a big crowd behind us, we can put an end to a bad run of defeats at this grade.”
: A. Nash (Kanturk), P. Fitzgerald (Erins Own, capt), D. McSweeney (Blarney), E. O’Sullivan (Ballyhea); S. O’Neill (Bishopstown), K. Hartnett (Russell Rovers), S. Cronin (St. Mary’s), B. Barry (Killeagh), P.J. Copps (Charleville), S. O’Sullivan (Na Piarsaigh), M. Naughton (Cloyne), R. Conway (Bishopstown), M. O’Sullivan (Ballyhea), J. Bowles (Newtownshandrum), D. Dorris (Glen Rovers).
: P McCormack (Thurles Sarsfields); J O’Dwyer (Killenaule), C O’Mahoney (Newport), B Hanley (Lattin-Cullen); C O’Brien (Éire Óg Annacarty), N Teehan (Gortnahoe/Glengoole), T Collins (Ballina); S McGrath (Ballinahinch), W Cully (Thurles Sarsfields); T Fitzgerald (Roscrea), F Devanney (Toomevara Captain), D Egan (Kildangan); E Sweeney (Loughmore-Castleiney), T Scroope (Burgess), P Shortt (Upperchurch-Drombane).