‘Donkeys don’t win derbies’ – when animosity crosses line

Cork, it can be said, have better rapport with other Munster counties. The same for Tipperary as much as geography means every game is a rivalry. This particular relationship on Sunday thrives on lashings of respect but a smattering of contempt too.

At times, it has gone overboard, and with gentlemen like Jimmy Barry-Murphy and Eamon O’Shea in opposite corners it’s unlikely to do so again on this occasion.

But there’s no doubting the pair have loved to hate one another.

Here are 15 flashpoints between the counties to jog your memory:

1 Top billing for this one and it should come as no surprise: Babs Keating’s unfortunate “donkeys don’t win derbies” line about Cork prior to the 1990 Munster final was seized upon by Canon Michael O’Brien and they, helped by Mark Foley’s 2-7, won the game by eight points.

2 Towards the end of the 2009 game, Micheál Webster lost control of his hurley. Seeing it on the ground, Dónal Óg Cusack stood on one half of it and pulled the top of it towards him. Snap. As Cusack wrote here recently of the incident, “Then I held it up as if it had been broken all along and I’d just found it lying there.”

3 A few days after losing the 2008 Munster quarter-final to Tipperary, Jerry O’Connor spoke of how an opposing supporter taunted him after the game. “A Tipp supporter came up and he said, ‘I think ye had better go on strike again’. Horrible comments like that will be kept in the back of the head again.

“By God if we get another chance, hopefully we’ll make people like that suffer.”

4 In the closing stage of the 1961 Munster final, two of the greats Christy Ring and John Doyle became embroiled in a row in which Doyle’s team-mate Tom Moloughney was struck. Ring was singled out as the culprit in the media, which enraged the Cork County Board, who threatened to sue RTÉ and a national newspaper. Journalists were barred from their press box too. Doyle later revealed Ring had cracked his chin.

5 In Brian Corcoran’s Every Single Ball, he tells of how Canon O’Brien motivated them before the 1992 Munster final. Placing a Cork and a Tipperary jersey at the top of a room in Jury’s Hotel, he asked the players what was the difference. “I’ll tell you the difference,” he said, “See that one? That’s the blood and bandages of Cork. See the other one? It has a big yellow streak running through it!”

6 In the 1950s and ‘60s, it wasn’t that Tipperary were beating Cork on a regular basis but sewing it into them each time. Gerald McCarthy recounted: “What surprised me was it showed how calculating they were — they weren’t content just to beat Cork, they hammered them to make the game the following year that bit easier.”

7 Karma would later bite Babs in his backside but before the 1987 Munster final replay against Cork he soaked sliotars to negate Ger Cunningham’s long puck-outs.

8 In 2005, Cork, having conceded a penalty, distracted both the referee and Tipperary to get a dud ball into play.

“Rolled in,” wrote Cusack in his autobiography, “so that it would just appear to be lying on the grass waiting to be picked up. There was nothing obvious. It would just appear there.”

The word “Tipp” was written on the ball too. Ingenious but sneaky.

9 Elsewhere on this page, there is the story of the 1950 Munster final when Tony Reddin had to escape Killarney dressed as a priest. In the same game, a Cork supporter had attempted to disorientate him by throwing a coat over his head.

10 Cusack, again in his gripping autobiography, provides us with an insight into how Cork viewed Tipp in the early to mid 2000s. “If we have a modern history with Tipperary it’s that we have never really feared them. When we started out we would have had an awe when it came to Clare. But Tipp? Not really. I imagine they worried more about us than we would worry about them.”

11 The vile and idiotic remarks shouted down towards Cusack from a megaphone in the Killanin End in 2009. Not representative of the Tipperary support; nevertheless an embarrassment for them.

12 He may be Offaly-born but the mention of Ovens’ referee Diarmuid Kirwan is usually followed by colourful language in Tipperary after the 2009 All-Ireland final.

13 Two years ago, former Cork captain Tomás Mulcahy remarked in jest on The Sunday Game that Lar Corbett had put a bet on himself not to score in that year’s Munster final. RTÉ and Mulcahy apologised the next day but Corbett revealed his fury at the rumours later in his autobiography.

14 Those two again — Keating and Cusack. In 2006, Keating began the game behind the Cork goal at the Town End in Thurles. Why? He wanted to disrupt Cusack’s ball supply, believing Cork were ball-tampering. He later accused them of gamesmanship. The pair became involved in a heated row which involved some shoving.

15 It hasn’t been forgotten that earlier this year Tipperary ended a league home-away agreement with Cork. Their last knockout game in the competition had taken place in Thurles two years ago but to Cork’s surprise Tipperary said the arrangement had come to an end following that fixture.

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