Lar’s seamless return

Given it was in enemy territory, the ovation Lar Corbett received was thunderous.

Two minutes before half-time, he made a first competitive move in nine months, four after he announced his retirement from the inter-county game and two since he announced his return.

The travelling Tipperary throngs greeted him with rapturous applause while the Cork-dominated Blackrock End booed his introduction.

Early in the second half, a small proportion of the home crowd jeered him with chants of “Who are you?” after he fumbled half a goal chance.

But it was Corbett who had the last laugh, setting up Noel McGrath for the only goal of the game, as well as winning a free.

Ghosting around defenders and searching for loose ball, it really was as if he never left. If Brendan Maher had looked up in the 47th minute, he might have seen his team-mate waiting to pounce.

Asked afterwards if he found it difficult to step back into the set-up after two months away, he responded with a deadpan “no”.

But what about his entrance to the fray? With just one point between the sides at that stage and with Cork aided by the wind, it wasn’t as if Tipperary were struggling.

“Nothing’s going to be a surprise. Whenever you’re called upon, you’re called upon, so it doesn’t really make a difference. You just have to be ready from the start the very same as everyone else. We’re delighted that lads came off the bench and we’re looking forward to getting back into training Tuesday night, and as a panel to fight for 15 places for the Munster final. That’s the most important thing.”

Concerning the goal, it was an excellently-worked move via a Patrick “Bonner” Maher fetch and interplay between John O’Brien and Corbett to set up McGrath.

Corbett could have struck towards goal himself but said: “The best man at the moment is Noel McGrath to take the right option.

“I think the right option was to give it to Noel and that’s the most important thing.

“We saw it with Kilkenny and Dublin. The man in the best position gets the ball and that’s really what we’re trying to strive towards.”

McGrath, the RTÉ man of the match although Bonner Maher had major claims, was humble about the goal.

“I was just lucky to be in the right place. It could be somebody else the next day. That’s just the way it is. You play the ball to the right man and do the best thing for the team.”

McGrath was more effusive about how the team coped after John O’Brien’s dismissal.

“I’m speechless, really, because it was such a hard-working performance. We’ve put in serious work since the Limerick match, training very hard. Everybody in the gym and the field and everything.”

After an early McGrath point, Tipperary didn’t lead again until the 46th when McGrath struck for goal.

Corbett put down their ability to hold the lead for the remainder of the game to the character of the players. “We can talk about it in training, we can talk about it in the dressing room but you have to prove that on the field. John had hard luck to get sent off but the character of the boys came out there and they proved it on the field.”

Coming after Kilkenny’s emphatic win over Dublin, things look ominous for the teams remaining in the competition but Corbett’s optimism shines through. “We have to believe. That’s it... we really believe.”

A repeat of last year’s Munster final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh will have people remembering Tipperary’s seven-goal rout over Waterford.

But Corbett is reminded of what happened afterwards. “We stood here after the Munster final and said there is a big hole here where we could fall into, that we could get carried away. The Munster final, we are looking forward to it and there is going to be pressure for places in Thurles, starting on Tuesday night.

“You can’t get complacent because there is someone standing waiting for your spot.”


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