Cork seek hat-trick over Tipp

WINNERS at minor and senior level over Tipperary, Cork hope to make it a hat-trick tonight in the Munster IHC final at Páirc Uí Rinn (7.30pm).

The game takes on added interest with the recall of Tipp Allstar John Leahy for the first final meeting of these rivals since 2000.

The Leesiders have been forced to make two changes from the side that defeated Limerick in the semi-final.

Dara McSweeney is ruled out through injury and his place at centre-back is taken by Courcey Rovers’ Timmy Lordan. Blackrock’s Colin O’Reilly comes in at right corner-forward for the injured Stephen Dineen.

Also included is Paul McGrath, a Tipperary native who played with them in this grade some years ago.

As defending All-Ireland champions Cork were forced to field a new team for this year’s campaign, a fact that is not lost on coach John Keane.

“There is a lot of hurling talent in the county and the fact that we are back in the Munster final again with a new crop of players is testament to that,” he said.

“This grade is difficult to organise but we’ve managed to play a number of challenge games and got in a couple of nights’ training so we should be in good shape.

“Tipp are probably still hurting after their senior defeat but we’ll be ready for a backlash. The fact that John Leahy is included on the starting 15 suggests they are keen to win this title.”

Tipperary have made three changes to the defence that leaked three first- half goals against Clare, bringing in senior substitutes Michael Phelan, Shane Maher and Shane Sweeney.

“It was the one area that concerned us,” said coach Eamon Kelly. “Hopefully the three senior panellists will strengthen that area because Cork have a very good forward line that will take some stopping.

“We are gambling on John Leahy, but he has shown excellent form for his club Mullinahone and when asked to come in, he jumped at the chance. I’ve found it impossible to get the squad together for training because of the call on players by their clubs.

“It appears Cork have a better team than last year, which speaks volumes for the standard in the county. Playing Cork in any grade is never easy, and we have a mountain to climb now that we must travel.”

CORK (IH v Tipperary): A Nash (Kanturk); J Crowley (Newcestown), L Hayes (Dromina), R Mc Carthy (St Finbarrs); B Walsh (Bride Rvrs), T Lordan (Courcey Rvrs), D Fitzgerald (Charleville); T Healy (Buttevant), J Olden (Inniscarra); E Conway (Fr O’Neills), D Dineen (Ballinhassig), P McGrath (Blackrock); C O’Reilly (do), R O’Doherty (Ballincollig), S Hayes (Courcey Rvrs).

TIPPERARY (IH v Cork): D Hogan; B Lawlor, D O’Brien, M Phelan; S Sweeney, S Maher, E Hanley; B Hogan, C O’Brien; P Buckley, T Slevin, S McGrath; S Everard, B Gaynor, J Leahy.

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