We’d be foolish to think that anything other than a green flag will decide this evening’s final.
Returning briefly to last month’s Munster final and it appeared Cork were poised for victory when sub Evan Sheehan first-timed the sliotar to the net in the 69th minute. That Cork went home empty-handed was because Jake Morris fired home three and a half minutes into injury-time.
Last year’s All-Ireland U21 final between the two counties was decided by a three-pointer, courtesy of Tipperary sub Conor Stakelum, deep in second-half stoppages.
And if we go even further back to the 2017 Munster minor semi-final — particularly relevant given the majority of players involved on that occasion will parade behind the band today — it was an 83rd minute Evan Sheehan major which forced a replay.
Tipperary almost staged a comeback in that next installment, as Kevin McCarthy’s goal in the second minute of injury time narrowed the gap to one. They had, at one juncture in that game, trailed by 11.
A former Tipperary hurler told Cork manager Denis Ring last Sunday evening that it would take a “great team” to keep Tipperary within four goals. Ring’s view is that if Cork concede three to the Premier in Limerick, they will be defeated.
Cork’s total of four goals across four championship outings compares poorly to the 11 goals their opponents have struck in three games.
And so, whatever about limiting the number of chances afforded to Conor Bowe, Billy Seymour, and Jake Morris, Cork’s bid for a first All-Ireland at this grade in 21 years could well hinge on the ability of Shane O’Regan, Brian Turnbull, and company to go for the jugular when it isn’t necessarily right there in front of them. Crucial, too, is the speed of the Cork management in ringing personnel changes, an area where they were too slow off the mark in last year’s final defeat.