TIPPERARY made no mistake at the second attempt, handing out a 12-point drubbing to defending champions Cork in the Munster ESB MHC semi-final replay at Thurles last night.
Far superior in the skills and pace of the game, the Premier County led almost from the throw-in when John O’Dwyer opened their account with a point, and, hurling with supreme confidence throughout the field, had their place in the final against Waterford well and truly secured long before the final whistle.
The winners had a number of outstanding players, particularly wing forward O’Dwyer, who finished with 10 points to add to the 2-7 he scored in the drawn game last week.
Brian Stapleton was named at midfield, but lined out at centre-back where he was magnificent, ably assisted in defence by full-back Liam Butler and wing back Willie Ryan.
Their forwards were extremely sharp and apart from O’Dwyer and David Collins, substitutes David Butler and Michael O’Brien did their chances of playing in the final no harm at all.
Cork were a huge disappointment. Their first touch was dreadful, and they were severely punished for conceding far too many frees to a player of O’Dwyer’s calibre.
Surprisingly, Brian Hartnett, who scored 2-1 when introduced in the drawn game, wasn’t in from the start and a Cork attack that lacked scoring forwards, was always second best.
Only full-back Darragh Rodgers, David Drake, Jamie Coughlan and Eoin O’Sullivan came out of this game with their reputations intact.
Tipperary opted to play with five forwards in the opening half, pulling corner forward Eanna Murray out as a third midfielder, and it had the desired effect in giving the home side a distinct advantage around the middle.
O’Dwyer picked up where he had left off in the drawn game, scoring two points in the opening four minutes before Cork moved corner-back Roger Ryan out in an effort to contain him.
It mattered little, however, as the Killenaule youngster was clearly on his game again, and he knocked over three unanswered points to help his side to an 0-6 to 0-1 lead after 10 minutes, and Cork looked in serious trouble.
However, the defending champions settled after the early flurry of Tipp scores and with Rodgers rock solid at full-back and John Dineen, a late call up, doing well at wing forward, Cork hit back with three unanswered points and it was very much game on.
TIPP’S midfield numerical advantage was clearly a factor, resulting in enormous pressure on the Cork defence. Only a superb save by goalkeeper Tomás Hogan denied Sean Curran a goal from 10 yards out after David Collins set him up. It was just a temporary respite, however, and the lively Tipp attack came again and this time Collins delivered the goal from Denis Maher’s well struck sideline cut.
Collins sparkled at corner-forward and gave his marker a torrid time. David Drake raised Cork hopes of a recovery with two excellent long-range points from frees, but the hugely talented O’Dwyer did the same for Tipp and at the break, the home side led comfortably, 1-11 to 0-8.
A Drake point seconds after the resumption raised Cork’s hopes and they were enhanced when Eoin O’Sullivan touched home Jamie Coughlan’s cross for a goal. However, they were unable to build on that score as the Tipp defence put up the shutters.
Tipp cancelled out that score almost immediately with a goal from substitute David Butler, and that ended Cork’s hopes.
Down eight points, Cork came looking for scores by moving full-back Rodgers out to centre half. However, that move left them vulnerable at the back and the Tipp forwards began to pick off a succession of points to lead by 12 after 50 minutes.
Tipp held that advantage to the finish, to the delight of the majority of the 5,880 crowd.
Scorers for Tipperary: J O’Dwyer 0-11 (0-7 frees, 0-1 65); D Collins 1-2; D Butler 1-1; D Maher, M O’Brien 0-2 each; W Ryan, E Murray, A Cleere 0-1 each.
Cork: E O’Sullivan 1-2; D Drake 0-4 (0-2 frees); J Coughlan 0-3 (0-2 frees); D Brosnan, J Dineen, P Houghney 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY: P Ryan; A Ryan, L Butler, J Meagher; WRyan, D Maher, A Hogan; A Cleere, B Stapleton; S Curran, P Heffernan, J O’Dwyer; D Collins, R Gleeson, E Murray.
Subs: D Butler for Heffernan (half time); M O’Brien for Cleere (45); T Butler for Gleeson (58)
CORK: T Hogan; R Ryan, D Rodgers, A Cagney; P Wiley, P O’Rourke, J Hutchinson; R O’Sullivan, D Drake; John Dineen, E Brosnan, Paul Hockney; J Coughlan, Odran O’Connell, E O’Sullivan.
Subs: C Joyce for Wiley (20); J Wall for O O’Connell (half-time) P O’Brien for Hutchings (37); B Hartnett for Brosnan (40); C Lehane for Dineen (45).
Referee: G Hoey (Clare).
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