Rebels reign in Munster as Tipp are outflanked

Cork 2-17 Tipperary 2-11

The win gives the county their sixth provincial title out of a possible seven and they are in line for a complete sweep of the hurling championships when they play Tipp in the U21 final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh early next month.

It is a tribute to the standard of hurling in the county that Cork could field a completely new team for the third year in a row and still hold on to their title. On the evidence of this performance, the Leesiders will make a bold bid to win their third All-Ireland title in a row. They now play Galway in the semi-final with Wexford awaiting the winners in the final.

Cork made the better start despite playing against the wind and led 0-4 after six minutes, with two of those points coming from midfielder Stephen Dineen.

The early dominance of Dineen and Kevin Hartnett gave Cork a grip at midfield and with Maurice O’Sullivan and Kevin Canty doing well in attack, the scores came freely for the defending champions.

O’Sullivan was his usual competent self from frees pointing two in a row before Cork showed their undoubted class with a great passing movement which left Kevin Hartnett in the clear.

His shot nested in the corner of the Tipp net off the leg of goalkeeper Austin Cooney and it looked plain sailing for the visitors as they led 1-5 to 0-1 at the end of the opening quarter.

Tipperary struggled alarmingly, particularly in attack where they could make no headway against a rock-solid Cork defence in which Will Twomey was unbeatable at full back, but there was far too much indiscipline among the other defenders, which allowed Tipp back into the game as Pat Lawlor pointed a couple of needless frees.

The introduction of Tommy Connors to midfield helped break the Cork monopoly. The home side finished strongly with a couple of more points from frees and the half-time deficit of 1-9 to 0-8 wasn’t any way as intimidating.

Cork continued to make the running on the changeover and stretched their lead with points by Kieran Morrison and Maurice O’Sullivan inside the opening two minutes of the restart. Tipp needed a goal if they were to have any chance and only the upright denied them in the 38th minute when Simon Everard set up Pat Lawlor.

Lawlor managed to beat the ‘keeper with his flick but the sliothar came back off the upright before being cleared to safety.

From that let-off, Cork took a firm grip, particularly in defence where Will Twomey, Shane O’Neill and James Hughes continued to dominate.

With Maurice O’Sullivan unerring from both play and frees, the defending champions racked up the points to lead 1-14 to 0-9 after 45 minutes.

It got worse for the home side two minutes later when a speculative shot by Stephen Dineen was deflected into his own net by goalkeeper Austin Cooney and Cork looked to be in an unassailable lead.

However, Tipp weren’t quite prepared to roll over and as Cork took their foot off the pedal, they began to pour forward at every opportunity and the incessant pressure on the Cork defence began to tell.

Points by Tadhg Slevin and Shane McGrath, followed by a goal by Ronan O’Brien from a 20-metre free, raised their hopes and those of the small attendance, and it took a great save by ‘keeper Sean Barry to deny Aidan Fitzgerald as Tipp peppered the Cork goal.

Cork looked to have survived the pressure but a careless hand pass by James Hughes was intercepted by Conor O’Brien and the sliothar was swept upfield where Aidan Fitzgerald billowed the net to leave just four points between the sides.

No-hopers a couple of minutes earlier, Tipperary were within striking distance of a sensational victory with four minutes of normal time left.

Cork needed a score to settle the nerves and it was fitting that outstanding forward Maurice O’Sullivan should come to their rescue when he pointed from out near the touch line. As the game drifted into injury time, the Ballyhea man added another to put the seal on a splendid victory for Cork over their arch-rivals.

Scorers for Cork: M O’Sullivan 0-10 (0-6 frees); S Dineen 1-2; K Hartnett 1-0; S Kearney 0-2; K Canty, K Morrisson, J Hughes (65) 0-1 each.

Tipperary: P Lawlor 0-4 (0-3 frees); R O’Brien (frees), A Fitzgerald 1-1 each; S Stapleton 0-2; S. Everard, T Slevin, S McGrath 0-1 each.

CORK: S Barry; B Coleman, W Twomey, S O’Neill; J Hughes, S O’Leary, V Hurley; S Dineen, K Hartnett; S Kearney, K Morrisson, R O’Dwyer; M O’Sullivan, K Canty, D O’Riordan. Subs. K Hurley for V Hurley; M Fitzgerald for Dineen.

TIPPERARY: A. Cooney; J. Moran, B Lawlor, M Phelan; C O’Brien, E Ryan, C Everard; S McGrath, B Hogan; S Stapleton, T Slevin, A Fitzgerald; S Everard, P Lawlor, R O’Brien. Subs. T Conbnors for Hogan; N Teehan for Phelan; W Keogh for Lawlor.

Referee: D Richardson (Limerick).

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