TIPPERARY 1-14 CORK 2-14
Deadly Joe Deane slotted over eight points as Cork retained the Munster SHC title with a 2-14 to 1-14 victory over old rivals Tipperary at Semple Stadium today.
Late points from substitute Kieran Murphy (Sarsfields) and Deane confirmed not only the Rebels’ 50th Munster crown, but their third championship win over Tipp in three seasons.
The success also kept up manager John Allen's record of never having lost a championship match in charge - Waterford (twice), Clare (twice), Tipperary (twice) and Galway have all been beaten over the course of seven SHC ties.
In front of 53,286 spectators, a fourth-minute goal from Lar Corbett pushed Tipp, who were gunning for their first provincial title since 2001, in an early lead. But goals from Brian Corcoran (12 minutes) and Ben O’Connor (20) saw Cork right back in it.
The sides were level pegging at the break – 2-06 to 1-09 – but two Deane frees early in the second half stretched Cork into a lead they relinquished on just one occasion when Tipp's star man Eoin Kelly, who finished with a seven-point tally, fired over twice in quick succession in the 49th-minute.
It was not to be for Kelly and company but with both sides straight into next month's All-Ireland quarter-finals (July 22-23), there are still plenty more twists and turns before the destination of the Liam McCarthy cup is settled on for 2006.
Tipp almost got off to a flyer in the first-minute when Diarmuid Fitzgerald's kicked shot was saved by Cork's Donal Óg Cusack. Kelly pointed the resultant '65 to lusty cheers from the Tipp faithful.
Things got even better for the underdogs when Corbett slipped his marker and batted home for a 1-01 to no score lead. Cork though responded as only All-Ireland champions can with Jerry O'Connor and Deane (0-02) raising successive white flags.
Corcoran's goal, which saw him play a somewhat fortunate one-two with Deane, steadied Cork further before John O'Brien pointed for Tipp.
The first quarter ended with Cork 1-04 to 1-03 ahead as O'Brien flicked his second point in off the post and John Gardiner landed a mammoth free. The Rebels then upped the ante with Ben O'Connor rifling over from the right wing and the same player then claimed a classy goal.
Cork's number 13 soloed through from his own half, linking with Tom Kenny and Timmy McCarthy before unleashing a fierce angled drive beyond the reach of Brendan Cummins.
Tipp needed to come back straight away and they did as John Carroll pointed and Kelly added a '65 after Cusack had again thwarted Fitzgerald. Kelly shot over his third point, from a free, soon after for a 1-06 to 2-05 deficit.
A dipping shot from Gardiner, which was tipped over by Cummins, rallied the Rebels but Tipp's point-taking was undoing all the good work of Cork's goals - Paul Kelly, with a lengthy effort, and two frees from his younger brother Eoin saw the sides go in at half time on level terms.
After fouls on Niall and Timmy McCarthy, Deane arrowed over his third and fourth points of the afternoon to give Cork the ideal start to the second half.
Carroll and Corcoran then swapped points before Kelly, the scorer of 2-23 in the championship before today, came into his own. He struck over a free from all of 80 yards and then moments later, swung a brilliant shot over his shoulder from 50 yards out to level at 1-12 to 2-09.
Two-time All-Star Deane replied with two of his own - both from play. Perhaps his second score was the turning point as Tipp captain 'Redser' O'Grady and Carroll had both missed chances at the other end only seconds earlier.
Two in front again, Cork had some breathing space, but not for long in this Thurles thriller. Corbett pointed, although Deane quickly followed that with his seventh from a '65.
Cork just seemed to have enough quality to keep their heads above water. Substitutes Benny Dunne and Murphy of Sarsfields swapped points as Tipp looked for a big climax.
Eoin Kelly was denied it when his rising 67th-minute shot was saved well by Cusack and the defending champions saw out a stern test of their credentials with Deane flinging over another free in injury-time.
D Og Cusack; P Mulcahy, D O’Sullivan, B Murphy; J Gardiner (0-02), R Curran, S Og O hAilpin; T Kenny, J O’Connor (0-01); T McCarthy, N McCarthy, C O’Connor; B O’Connor (1-01), B Corcoran (1-01), J Deane (0-08).
N Ronan, K Murphy (0-01)
B Cummins; D Fanning, P Curran, P Ormonde; E Corcoran, C O’Mahoney, H Moloney; P Kelly (0-01), S McGrath; J Carroll (0-02), G O’Grady, J O’Brien (0-02); D Fitzgerald, L Corbett (1-01), E Kelly (0-07).
J Devane, C Morrissey, B Dunne (0-01), M Webster.
Dickie Murphy (Wexford).