Tipperary 1-22 Cork 0-24
Tipperary will face Waterford in the Munster hurling final for the third time in four years after they edged past Cork by the narrowest of margins at Páirc Uí Chaoimh this afternoon.
In a tie which never had a lead of more than four points, Noel McGrath’s 46th-minute goal was crucial for Tipp, who had trailed by two points after playing into the wind in the first half.
Despite the loss of John O’Brien for a second bookable offence two minutes later, Tipp managed to cope well with the numerical disparity and in fact it could be argued that their forwards benefited from the extra space in attack as they held off their hosts.
For Cork, it will be a case of regret as for long periods it looked as if they would upset the odds and claim their place in the provincial decider.
Ultimately, however, they could not maintain their excellent first-half form in the second period when they found themselves under more pressure, and though a draw could have been salvaged, sloppy mistakes let the Rebels down and they can have no complaints about being beaten.
The tone was set before throw-in, when Padraic Maher was booked for an altercation with Cathal Naughton, and from the off it was breakneck stuff, Cork settling the better as all six of their forwards had scored in the first 21 minutes.
Three times they held four-point leads, Patrick Horgan deadly from frees while Conor O’Sullivan shone in a defence where Tipp were being stymied in their efforts, Pa Bourke and occasionally Noel McGrath their rays of light.
Horgan’s point on 21 minutes made it 0-12 to 0-8, but the tempo could not be maintained indefinitely and a free and two 65s from Bourke had Tipp back to within one.
After Horgan converted another free, Cork thought they had found the net as Tipp goalkeeper Brendan Cummins fumbled a free from opposite number Anthony Nash into the net, but a free out had been awarded.
Though Brendan Maher reduced the deficit to one again, a super score from Horgan left it 0-14 to 0-12 at the break, though with Tipp having the wind to come they could not be discounted.
Early in the second period, Cork kept their noses in front, but there were worrying signs, such as Brian O’Meara’s good point after Eoin Cadogan had lost possession, and Bourke’s free had Tipp back to within one, 0-16 to 1-15, when McGrath struck for his goal, profiting from good work by O’Brien and Lar Corbett, who had been introduced as a first-half sub.
Tipp would never be led after that despite Cork’s endeavour, Padraic Maher making a huge impression in the second half while Bourke continued to nail frees and McGrath added two fine points.
They made it 1-22 to 0-22 to quell another Cork revival and while Horgan sent over two Cork frees to bring them back to within one, they could not find an equaliser and now go into the qualifiers.
Scorers for Tipperary: P Bourke 0-12 (0-7f, 0-2 65), N McGrath 1-4, B Maher, B O’Meara 0-2 each, G Ryan, Padraic Maher 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cork: P Horgan 0-11 (0-9f), J Coughlan, P O’Sullivan 0-3 each, C Lehane 0-2, D Sweetnam, P Cronin, C Naughton, D Kearney, C McCarthy 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY: B Cummins; C O’Brien, P Curran, M Cahill; T Stapleton, C O’Mahony, Padraic Maher; B Maher, S McGrath; G Ryan, Patrick Maher, P Bourke; B O’Meara, J O’Brien, N McGrath.
Subs: L Corbett for Ryan (34), S Bourke for O’Meara (55, injured), J Woodlock for B Maher (57), E Kelly for P Bourke (67), D Maher for Stapleton (70).
CORK: A Nash; B Murphy, S O’Neill, C O’Sullivan; T Kenny, E Cadogan, W Egan; D Sweetnam, L McLoughlin; C Naughton, P Cronin, C Lehane; P O’Sullivan, J Coughlan, P Horgan.
Subs: C McCarthy for Naughton (47), D Kearney for Sweetnam (50), L O’Farrell for Lehane (63).
Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).