Cork win clash of Munster hurling titans

NHL DIVISION 1:

NHL DIVISION 1:

Cork 1-16 Tipperary 1-15, Pairc Ui Chaoimh

Cork qualified for the Allianz NHL Division 1 final after beating their Munster rivals Tipperary for the first time since 2006.

Substitute Darragh Egan closed the gap to a single point at Pairc Ui Chaoimh, but that was Tipp's last score as they bowed out of the league title race.

Pat Horgan nudged Cork in front at 0-11 to 0-7 for half-time, watched by a 9,291-strong crowd.

Tipp thundered ahead at 1-12 to 0-11 with goal scorer Paul Kelly in fine form, but a Horgan goal and some well-taken points saw Cork prevail.

It was the Rebels' first victory over Tipp in five meetings and will give them a slight edge going in to the sides' Munster Championship quarter-final clash on May 30.

Before that, Denis Walsh's charges have a Division 1 decider against Galway to consider, with their round 7 visit to the Tribesmen on April 18 now effectively a dead rubber.

Cork lined out as selected, whereas Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy was forced into a late change as an injury forced left corner back Paul Curran out of the team and Conor O'Brien took his place.

Cork had the wind at their backs in the opening half, and full-forward Aisake O hAilpin made a promising start by winning the first three balls against Tipp's Padraic Maher.

O hAilpin was off target with an early goal attempt and he was blocked brilliantly by Maher when presented with a second chance to test goalkeeper Brendan Cummins.

O hAilpin was fouled for Horgan to open the scoring and he turned provider when he teed up corner forward Paudie O'Sullivan for a one-on-one with Cummins, but the veteran Tipp net minder produced an excellent save.

Although midfielder Tom Kenny was able to double Cork's tally from distance, Tipperary captain Eoin Kelly soon had his side level at 0-2 apiece with two well-struck frees.

Cork were forcing the issue though, and Lorcan McLoughlin, Cathal Naughton and Horgan all split the posts to put the hosts 0-6 to 0-2 ahead by the quarter-hour mark.

But despite some solid defensive displays from Ronan Curran and Eoin Cadogan, Tipp came more into the game as the half wore on.

O hAilpin's influence waned as he was shifted to centre-forward and Kelly kept the Premier County ticking over with frees, closing the gap to three points.

Horgan was presented with a late chance to go for goal from a close range free, but the signal came from the Cork bench to pop it over the crossbar and that left four between the sides as the turnaround.

However, Tipp got on top in all sectors at the start of the second half and Cork needed a tremendous save from goalkeeper Martin Coleman to prevent the advancing Lar Corbett from finding the net.

The rebound fell to Kelly but the Cork defenders quickly crowded him out and the home fans breathed a sigh of relief. Tipp began eating into the Cork lead nonetheless, with Shane McGrath and Kelly reducing the arrears to two points.

That was Kelly's fifth point of the game but his brother Paul, lining out in the opposite left corner, then took centre stage.

He landed two fine points and notched a well-taken 47th minute goal, bursting free of his marker and firing a rising shot from 25 yards out to the left corner of Coleman's net.

Gearoid Ryan also pointed during a productive spell for Sheedy's side which saw them move 1-12 to 0-11 ahead.

Horgan ended Cork's wait for their first score of the second half, in the 52nd minute, when Cummins saved an initial shot from O'Sullivan and Horgan impressively flicked the loose ball over a defender and blasted it high to the net.

The talented corner forward tagged on a free to leave the sides level at 1-12 apiece, and Cork had the better of the remaining minutes as they extended their unbeaten league run to six matches.

Closing points from Jerry O'Connor and Horgan, who finished with a 1-7 tally, made it 1-16 to 1-14 in the first minute of injury-time. Egan rallied Tipp with a point but in a frantic finish, Walsh's side held the aces.

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