THEY have been there before, forced to go through the qualifier route.
Last year they failed to get beyond the All-Ireland quarter-final and in 2006 they went all the way to the final only to lose their title to Kilkenny.
This time, under the new system, Cork will be lining up against one of the beaten Leinster semi-finalists and judging from the reaction of team captain John Gardiner and goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack after yesterday’s defeat, you got the impression they didn’t think they would be doing it this way.
“Obviously we’re very disappointed,” said Cusack, who agreed that Eoin Kelly’s first-half goal had an important bearing on the outcome. “Definitely, it was a big score for Tipperary,’ he said.
“We’ll have to have a good think about things now. To be fair the boys put in a good effort in training and got themselves into shape. Obviously this is about winning and we didn’t win.”
Gardiner was trying to look on the positive side, but, to be fair it wasn’t an easy thing to do just minutes after the final whistle had seen their Munster championship dreams disappear. “We’ll have to re-group over the next couple of days. I suppose it’s going to be tough to take, but we’re still in it.”
Like Cusack, he didn’t find any fault with their build-up, commenting: “You prepare the same as you do every year. Preparations were the same as ever. You can’t legislate for it (defeat). But, we missed chances and they cost us badly today.”
He accepted that Tipp benefited greatly from Eoin Kelly’s goal, especially since it came at a stage when Cork were in control.
“They turned the tables on us with the goal. They really built on it.” Acknowledging that Cork hit a lot of wides into the Blackrock end — just as Tipp had done in the first half — Gardiner felt that it could have been a high-scoring game if the two teams had not been ‘guilty’ of so many missed chances. And, he felt that they would have been ‘well in there’ if they had been sharper.
“The game was still up for grabs with ten or fifteen minutes to go. Whoever was going to take it on was going to win it and it just seemed to be Tipperary. They got a few scores on the trot and built up a bit of momentum.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved