Tipperary, having fallen to Cork in the last two provincial deciders, exacted sweet revenge on their home turf to add to their maiden title secured back in 2010. Throw in the two Munster minor crowns and All-Ireland breakthrough win achieved since 2011 and it can’t be denied that the monopoly of the traditional powerhouses is slowly being eroded.
For the eight survivors of the defeated 2014 outfit, last night represented glorious redemption. For Ian Fahey, Steven O’Brien, Bill Maher and Jason Lonergan — all four involved in the 2013 final defeat as well — the tears of joy at the final whistle said it all.
The home outfit, through Ian Fahey’s goal on 45 minutes, moved themselves into the box seat, but were forced to withstand a barrage of late pressure from the Rebels.
Cian Dorgan’s introduction and the redeployment of Brian O’Driscoll breathed new life into the Cork forward unit and it was these two players who delivered the 1-1, Dorgan scrambling home the goal, to cut Tipperary’s advantage to the minimum entering injury-time.
Cork poured forward in search of an equaliser and while Dorgan had the courage to shoot, his effort tailed to the left and wide.
There would be no repeat of the 2009 final when Noel Galvin registered a last-ditch goal to break Tipperary hearts. The final whistle sound thereafter. Redemption, relief and unbridled joy for Tipperary.
In truth, extra-time would have rough justice on Tommy Toomey’s side.
The questions were many for the Premier outfit in the wake of Peter Kelleher’s goal strike 15 seconds upon the change of ends. The score edged Cork 2-4 to 0-8 in front and one wondered had Tipperary the necessary guile and grunt to respond. The winners, led by Ian Fahey, Colin O’Riordan and Steven O’Brien, issued a near-deafening response.
A surging run from Bill Maher allowed Kevin O’Halloran slot his second free.
And when the Portroe forward again converted from the placed ball, stalemate had been achieved.
Vaughan and O’Halloran traded efforts in the ensuing passages of play and then arrived the key score of this tentative decider, watch by a paltry attendance of 2,137.
Liam Casey’s delivery was broken down by Paul Maher, Jamie Davis failed to clear, and Ian Fahey burst onto possession to drive the ball through the legs of ‘keeper Michael Martin.
A second Tipperary goal almost materialised when O’Halloran put through Josh Keane, but the full-forward riffled his effort of the crossbar.
Colin O’Riordan added two white flags to carve out a four-point lead and Tipperary would not be caught, despite the entire kitchen been thrown in their direction by Cork at the finish.
The underdogs settled into proceedings far quicker by comparison to a nervous and error-prone Cork outfit. The Rebels would hit five first-half wides, several more dropped short and manager Sean Hayes must have been fraught with frustration at the amount of times his charges were turned over close to the Tipperary goal.
Jason Lonergan, Kevin O’Halloran (free) and Paul Maher swept the winners into an early lead and although Darragh Murphy kicked Cork’s opening score on 12 minutes, momentum rested with Tipp.
O’Brien and O’Riordan, as expected, enjoyed the upper hand in the midfield sector. Ian Fahey had Cork centre-back Sean White in all sorts of bother, while Kevin O’Halloran and Paul Maher were proving difficult to tie down inside.
Tipperary’s fifth point from Steven O’Brien was indicative of their high-octane approach — Sean White, under pressure from Fahey, over-carrying possession coming out of defence. By 19 minutes, Tipperary were 0-7 to 0-1 clear.
Peter Kelleher’s goal on the stroke of half-time reduced the margin to the minimum and while the lead fell into their hands early in the second-half, they were unable to hold the inside lane.
K O’Halloran (0-7, 0-5 frees); I Fahey (1-0); C O’Riordan, J Keane (0-1 free), J Lonergan (0-2 each); S O’Brien, P Maher (0-1 each).
P Kelleher (2-0); C Vaughan (0-4, 0-2 frees); C Dorgan (1-1); B O’Driscoll (0-1 free), D Murphy, S O’Donoghue (0-1 each).
M Martin (Nemo Rangers); J Davis (Douglas), T O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers), S Cronin (Nemo Rangers); B O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh), S White (Clonakilty), C Kiely (Ballincollig); A O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers), S O’Leary (Bantry); S O’Donoghue (Inniscarra), C McIntyre (Carrigaline), D Murphy (Valley Rovers); C Vaughan (Ivyleary), P Kelleher (Kilmichael), C Horgan (Nemo Rangers).
K Davis (O’Donovan Rossa) for Horgan (HT), C Dorgan (Ballincollig) for McIntyre (39 mins), D Quinn (St Finbarr’s) for O’Donovan (48), M Desmond (Cill N Martra) for O’Donoghue (54), M McSweeney (Newcestown) for Kiely (57), C Hyde (Naomh Abán) for White (59)
E Comerford (Kilsheelan Kilcash); K Fahey (Commercials), J Feehan (Killenaule), C O’Shaughnessy (Ardfinnan); R Mulcahy (Moyle Rovers), L Boland (Moyle Rovers), B Maher (Kilsheelan Kilcash); S O’Brien (Ballina), C O’Riordan (JK Brackens); J Lonergan (Commercials), I Fahey (Commercials), L Casey (Cahir); K O’Halloran (Portroe), J Keane (Golden Kilfeacle), P Maher (Kilsheelan Kilcash).
TJ Ryan (Rockwell Rovers) for Keane (56), W Connors (Kildangan) for Boland (59).
S Joy Kerry (Kerry).