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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 16 August, 2018

5 talking points after Cork recover to get past Tipperary in dramatic finale

Plenty to digest after the Páirc Uí Rinn encounter.

Conor Sweeney goes up against Paul Kerrigan.
Conor Sweeney goes up against Paul Kerrigan.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

1. That dramatic finale

No shortage of drama in the dying moments of this game. We were thinking this one was potentially drifting towards a replay with the teams matching each other for points, when Conor Sweeney again got inside the Cork rearguard – just like 2014 in Páirc Uí Chaoimh – for a vital Tipperary goal.

Cork will have been irritated by not dealing with that speculative high punt into their goalmouth but they didn’t show it immediately on the pitch and instead constructed their best flowing move of the match to counter for Luke Connolly’s goal.

The flipside of that goal will surely be frustration on the Tipperary side that they did not halt Cork’s momentum in that move and show the street smarts to protect their advantage. When Cork got ahead they successfully closed out the game in injury-time and got over the line.

2. Cork’s first-half woes

The Munster Council announced at half-time that 4,570 spectators had filed through the turnstiles for this game. It was tempting to speculate would there be Cork supporters demanding a refund at this stage.

They were wretched in the first half, the most glaring problem being their play when they got forward from midfield. Connolly’s 3rd minute point was their solitary score, an alarming statistic to reflect upon.

They shot eight wides when going for points, saw a goal attempt by Paul Kerrigan roll wide and another goalbound shot from Colm O’Neill was blocked. By the end of the half Cork were committing too many unforced errors, snatching at shots that came their way and looked a side shorn of confidence.

Tipperary were finding it difficult up front themselves as shots drifted wide and into the arms of Ken O’Halloran but they did manage to rack four points in a turgid opening half to put themselves in a strong position.

3. Kerrigan and Sweeney lead the way

In a match where both sides encountered difficult phases, it was interesting to reflect on the individual contributions of Paul Kerrigan and Conor Sweeney. Not for the first time, the Cork captain showed that he doesn’t shirk responsibility.

Scoring efforts may have gone astray in the opening half but it was the Nemo Rangers man who kickstarted Cork’s revival with a point off his left in the 37th minute and bagged two more by the end, including one wonderful shot on the right wing. He was central to lifting Cork’s performance.

At the other end was the man-of-the-match. Cork clearly targeted the threat of Conor Sweeney yet the Ballyporeen man still managed to amass 1-5 – 1-4 from play – and hit over quality points in a second-half when he was starved of service. His reputation as a clinical finisher was enhanced here, maintained his good form from that league final win over Louth.

4. Impact of Cork bench is crucial

Cork’s early struggles were plain to see and it was no surprise that they wheeled bodies off the bench before half-time and early in the second half. The crucial aspect of their win was how influential those substitutes were, a bunch of players putting in the types of performances that will see them demand inclusion for the Munster final.

At one end of the spectrum was the experience and composure of Donncha O’Connor, Barry O’Driscoll and Mark Collins – who shot 0-4 between them in the second half – and at the other end was the liveliness and speed of Sean Powter, Michael Hurley and Gary Murphy.

Collins and Powter were particularly impressive for Cork. Allied to their decision to push up on Tipperary’s kickouts and Ian Maguire’s prominence at midfield, Cork had a platform to build upon after the interval.

5. Injuries hit Tipperary hard

It was notable to observe the collection of players sitting in the stand yesterday who would have enhanced either outfit but for their enforced absence. Suspension and injury left the likes of Comerford, Walsh, Fahey, Hurley, Kennedy and Clancy watching on.

Both teams were operating with a reduced hand yet it was Tipperary who were further crippled during the game. Michael Quinlivan’s first-half departure was striking with the attacking onus falling on Sweeney to score and particularly when robbing Tipperary of an option when they were being wiped out at midfield in the second half.

Defender Shane O’Connell was another to limp off through injury at a juncture when Tipperary were under pressure in the second-half. It makes Tipperary’s injury situation more critical and leaves their management with a headache before the qualifiers.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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