Tipp ease past understrength Cork

TIPPERARY 2-15 CORK 0-09

TIPPERARY 2-15 CORK 0-09

Cork's understrength side were far from overawed but reigning NHL Division 1 champions Tipperary had a comfortable enough win on a night when the Semple Stadium floodlights were turned on for the first time.

Second-half goals from substitute John O'Brien and Patrick Maher copper-fastened the two league points for the Premier county, who were were only two points ahead in the early stages of the second half.

Gerald McCarthy's young Cork players put in a sterling effort for 50 minutes but Tipp's greater class and experience shone through in the final 20 minutes.

But this was no Valentine's Day massacre, as many had predicted, and the Rebels will draw heart from the improvements made since their defeat to Dublin six days ago.

GAA President Nickey Brennan performed the official ceremony prior to the throw-in as he switched on the new floodlights at the Thurles venue.

For such regular rivals, the intensity was severely lacking in the opening exchanges and it took a good 20 minutes before both sides got a feel for the game.

Cork started well with Tadhg Og Murphy pointing in the third minute after some good approach work by Barry Johnson.

In between Tipp points for Pa Bourke and James Woodlock, Cork goalkeeper Alan Kennedy had to be on his toes to deflect a Paul Kelly shot out for a '65'.

Bourke teed up a John Devane point as the hosts moved 0-03 to 0-01 ahead and there were ominous signs for Cork.

Nonetheless, McCarthy's charges got back level through the very effective Johnson. Shane Maher helped Tipp regain the lead but the Cork forwards were beginning to find holes in the Tipp defence and Murphy picked off his second point after a missed goal chance.

The sides lost a player apiece to yellow cards and Tipp bounced back the stronger from that, when late points from substitute Seamus Hennessy and Woodlock ended a barren spell for them and handed them a 0-7 to 0-4 buffer to take into the second half.

As they did at the start of the first half, Cork looked the more eager on the resumption and two points by Johnson sandwiched a Bourke score as Tipp's lead was cut to 0-8 to 0-6.

The game was in the balance at this stage but Tipp noticeably found their rhythm over the subsequent ten minutes to move 0-12 to 0-7 ahead.

Liam Sheedy's side notched points through Hennessy and Bourke, who took his tally to five with a series of long-range frees.

Johnson stemmed the tide with a free but on 55 minutes, Tipp substitute O'Brien showed his sharpness as he beat Chris Murphy to a high ball in from Benny Dunne and rifled a stinging shot high to the top left-hand corner of Kennedy's net.

On the hour, Paul Kelly drew mass applause for a terrific point on the run and Johnson, the pick of Cork's players, kept his side ticking on the scoreboard with his sixth and seventh points of the night.

As it turned out, there were Cork's final scores and Tipp added some gloss to the final scoreline with a late, unanswered haul of 1-2.

O'Brien flicked over an excellent point and Maher got the better of both Conor O'Sullivan and Ger O'Driscoll to strike home a 70th-minute goal.

A good night's work, in the end, for Tipp but Cork can hold their heads high as they made the champions fight for every ball.

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