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5 games that made us fall in love with the Munster championship

From the 1991 decider in Semple Stadium through to Waterford’s mid 00s dominance and Tipp’s triumph.

Updated at 22.52

THE MUNSTER HURLING championship is arguably the most romantic of them all while the level of competition is undoubtedly as (if not more) intense as any other province.

We’ve been treated to some great games over the years that are full of passion, pride and no little skill — five of which are listed below…

Munster final 1991: Tipperary 2-16 Cork 4-10

(Replay: Tipperary 4-19 Cork 4-15)

Nicky English and Conor Hayes 1988 Nicky English won an All-Ireland in 1991 as a player and another in 2001 as manager. Source: INPHO

The first game was a fantastic spectacle but the second instalment was even better, as Tipperary managed to get the upper hand on the Rebels. A Tipp team that featured the likes of Nicky English, Declan Ryan, Pat Fox and Noel Sheehy bested their neighbours thanks to an injury-time goal from Aidan Ryan, after Tomás Mulcahy had a goal effort scrambled off the line when Cork were trailing by two points.

The Premier County eventually went on to win the All-Ireland that year, beating Kilkenny in the final by four points.

Munster final 2002: Waterford 2-23 Tipperary 3-12

Source: joekilgobinet/YouTube

Waterford hadn’t won a Munster title for 39 years going into this one, and they were facing the sizeable task of toppling the All-Ireland champions. This would mark the beginning of a golden period for the Déise in Munster, as a team that contained such cult heroes as Ken McGrath, Paul Flynn, Eoin Kelly, Tony Browne, John Mullane and Dan Shanahan (as a substitute) made their mark.

Ken McGrath was the man of the moment, scoring seven points in what was an emotionally charged performance and goals from Tony Browne and Paul Flynn helped push them over the line for a historic victory.

Munster final 2004: Cork 1-21 Waterford 3-16

Source: Kev Kehoe/YouTube

Regarded by many hurling fans as the greatest Munster final of all time, Waterford overcame their biggest rivals by a single point in an enthralling game. The match had everything a hurling fan could ask for with great goals, brilliantly taken points and a red card that added to the drama.

Eoin Kelly and Dan Shanahan scored peaches of goals in the opening 35 minutes, before Paul Flynn caught the Cork defence napping when he hit a bullet free into the top corner from 40 metres out to put the Déise into the lead midway through the second half. Cork kept in touching distance for the remainder of the game, but couldn’t deny a wholly committed 14-man Waterford.

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Munster semi-final 2007 Waterford 5-15 Cork 3-18

Eoin Kelly and Dan Shanahan celebrate at the final whistle Eoin Kelly and Dan Shanahan were a deadly duo. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

The old rivalry was to the fore again in 2007, as the two sides locked horns in a bid to make the Munster final. Cork had won the previous two Munster titles and were favourites going into this one, but they were again gunned down by the combination of John Mullane, Dan Shanahan and Eoin Kelly.

Mullane notched 1-4 from play, while Shanahan struck 2-1 and an ageing Cork side were unable to halt Waterford’s free-flowing attack. The three-point victory was repeated again that year, when they met in the All-Ireland quarter-final, with Waterford winning 2-17 to 0-20.

Munster semi-final Tipperary 3-18 Clare 1-22

Noel McGrath 12/7/2014 Noel McGrath was in his first season with the Premier County. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Before Clare re-emerged as one of the best hurling sides in the country, they were slightly over-reliant on some of their older players like Niall Gilligan and Alan Markham to produce the goods on the big days.

Despite a brave effort and clawing themselves back from eight points down early on in the game, the Banner couldn’t match a Tipperary team with their minds on an All-Ireland title. Noel McGrath was the star for Tipp as he hit five points from play and a superb sideline cut. The day will also be remembered for the debut of Clare forward Colin Ryan, who hit 12 points in total, three of them coming from play.

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About the author:

Patrick Ward

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