Tipperary 2-27 Cork 2-15: Seamus Callanan’s arrival at half-time briefly threatened to ignite this lacklustre collision of the old rivals. In case there was any danger his first appearance of the campaign went unnoticed by the 7,251-strong crowd, a welcome-back shemozzle immediately broke out in the Cork goalmouth, and Semple lungs opened in unison for the first time in the afternoon.
Once that dust settled, Tipp immediately set about staging a reprise of Callanan’s one-man show against Galway last August. Finding the Drom-Inch man with ease, Callanan soon had three goal attempts defied — two comfortable Patrick Collins saves and a brave Conor O’Sullivan block.
Gathering a fourth time, Callanan accepted there was rust in the works and took the consolation of a point, before adding a second beauty from wide on the left.
That 15-minute cameo was about as hectic as it got, as second-half goals from Niall O’Meara and the impressive Michael Breen eased Tipp to a quarter-final date with Clare.
Cork goals in reply from Patrick Horgan and Paudie O’Sullivan barely lifted things beyond puckaround pace.
“I was disappointed with that game,” said Tipp manager Michael Ryan afterwards. “I thought that lacked a lot of intensity. And I’m talking about our intensity. I thought we were a lot lower than the required standard for a lot of that game. It didn’t catch life for us.
“It was great to get Seamie back on the pitch. But as you can see, and Seamie will be the first to acknowledge this, you don’t just step back into this standard and pick up where you left off last summer.”
Brisk interest and a ticket printing issue meant this dress rehearsal for the May championship meeting of the sides was delayed by 10 minutes. And there was disappointment for Cork arrivals with word Seamus Harnedy — so influential in last week’s spirited effort against Kilkenny — was missing from the named team, with Alan Cadogan taking his place. Shane O’Neill also returned in place of Lorcan MacLoughlin.
Cork did start positively, with Luke O’Farrell lively and Conor Lehane lobbing a trademark point from wide on the right.
But Tipp profligacy was one of the half’s primary themes, quickly accumulating four wides, one a John O’Dwyer free from manageable distance. They logged nine in all in a patchy half that mixed spells of intensity and committed tackling with long passages of aimless deliveries.
The sides were locked tit for tat until the quarter-hour, when it stood 0-6 each, before Breen began to exert his influence. The towering Ballina man was a willing runner from his midfield position and hit four first-half points, one when a goal was on.
John McGrath was Tipp’s other go-to attacker, hitting 0-5, three in the first half. Patrick Horgan kept Cork in touch, mainly from frees. But Darren Gleeson was a virtual spectator, as Cork’s threat came largely out the field.
Tipp’s 0-13 to 0-10 lead at the break was the least their dominance merited.
Callanan and fellow sub Dan McCormack injected further purpose into Tipp’s attack and the gap was soon out to six, new cricketer Brendan Maher driving one point over.
With nothing at stake for Cork, any lingering interest was extinguished when Niall O’Meara accepted John McGrath’s flick and drove a fine angled finish beyond the helpless Collins.
McGrath also fed Breen for the goal his performance deserved and injuries to Barry Heffernan and James Barry — who commanded his area throughout on his return — were the only concerns for Tipp thereafter.
Conor Lehane swelled his tally to three points but cut a subdued figure afterwards, as Cork now look to a relegation play-off with Galway after losing all five league matches.
“We just have to make sure we don’t go down and then forget about the league,” said Lehane. “Use it as motivation. Disappointed, but I wouldn’t be worried at all.”
Scorers for Tipperary:
J O’Dwyer (0-10, 0-9f); M Breen (1-4); J McGrath (0-5); Niall O’Meara (1-1); N McGrath, D McCormack, S Callanan (0-2); B Maher (0-1)
Scorers for Cork:
P Horgan (1-8, 6f); C Lehane (0-3); P O’Sullivan 1-0; B Cooper, B Lawton; L O’Farrell, C Lehane (0-1).
D Gleeson; C Barrett, J Barry, C O’Brien; B Heffernan, R Maher, P Maher; B Maher, M Breen; J O’Dwyer, N O’Meara, N McGrath; K Morris, J McGrath, A Ryan.
D McCormack for Ryan (ht); S Callanan for Morris (ht); W Ryan for B Heffernan (52); A Coffey for N McGrath (59) T Hamill for J Barry 66)
P Collins; C Burke, S McDonnell, C O’Sullivan; C Murphy, C Joyce, L McLoughlin; P Haughney, J Cronin; B Lawton, B Cooper, C Lehane; L O’Farrell, A Cadogan, P Horgan.
D Kearney for Cronin (ht); P Cronin for Lawton (55) P O’Sullivan for Cooper (57); S Murphy for K Burke (57); S Moylan for O’Farrell (67).
P O’Dwyer (Carlow).
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