First off, Tipperary won’t be as deficient as they were in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Similarly, Cork’s collective output won’t be at the same untouchable level that it was at on July 4.
What you’ll find materialising will be somewhere in the middle.
Cork’s starting front six racked up 3-13 from play on the evening of that one-sided Munster final. Against Wexford, that figure was 2-14. Such has been the Cork attack’s prolific nature in front of goal, Liam Cahill and his management team need to give serious consideration to either putting a third body into midfield or deploying a sweeper further back, even if only for the opening quarter of an hour or 20 minutes, so as to allow the Tipp players settle into proceedings and prevent any early flashbacks to their Munster final collapse.
The scoreline in the provincial decider read 1-7 to 0-2 in Cork’s favour after only 22 minutes. Tipp simply cannot allow Shane Kingston, Tim O’Mahony, Robbie O’Flynn, Jack O’Connor, Liam Healy and Declan Dalton, if fit, get into their groove early on. They also need to lessen the impact of those feeding the attack, namely Mark Coleman and Darragh Fitzgibbon.
Where Cork already hold an advantage is that the entire panel have been working together, without disruption or distraction, for the past three weeks. Throughout their Munster campaign, the senior panellists in Denis Ring’s squad were away in John Meyler’s camp and spending very little time with the rest of their U21 colleagues. The situation ahead of their All-Ireland semi-final wasn’t much better as the senior panellists were afforded six days to come down from the disappointment of the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Limerick and ready themselves for another All-Ireland semi-final at their own age-group.
For all the household names on the Cork team, this is new territory for them. Barring the handful of players from last year’s minor panel, these Cork lads have never played in an All-Ireland final, whereas the majority of the Tipp camp have been involved in one, if not two All-Ireland minor deciders. Three, in the case of Brian McGrath.
There’s pressure too on Cork. Not alone is there a demand to capitalise on such a talented crop coming along together, it has been 20 years since the county’s last All-Ireland U21 title. Cork hurling is not accustomed to 20-year famines.
For Tipp to win, they need full-back Brian McGrath to replicate his colossal Munster semi-final performance, they need Colin English and Ger Browne to break even with Fitzgibbon and Coleman at midfield, and they need the players around Jake Morris and Mark Kehoe to step up their scoring contributions.
Their cause would, of course, be helped by Declan Dalton missing out via injury.
Some of the above may come to pass, but not all.