1. Outsiders Cork claim a major early season scalp
Cork entered the Munster championship arena on the back of a more promising league campaign than the 2016 version where they just avoided relegation. Yet that rising optimism didn’t mean they were tipped to deliver an early summer shock today.
But Cork belied their outsiders tag to win a first Munster senior championship game since the 2014 final and stop a side that were chasing a provincial title three-in-a-row this year.
Last July the Cork hurlers left Thurles in a disconsolate mood after Wexford had ended a six decade barren spell against them. The emotions are somewhat different this evening, Cork departing Semple Stadium after claiming a major scalp to kickstart their 2017 campaign.
2. Tipperary are left reeling again
First there was the league final humbling against Galway, now they have seen their stranglehold in Munster broken. Tipperary dazzled in Croke Park last September but they have discovered over the past month how tricky it is to maintain the high standards of champions.
They didn’t produce as impoverished a display today as last month’s outing at the Gaelic Grounds but couldn’t manage to bounce back on a winning note either. Cork’s posting of 2-27 spoke volumes for Tipperary’s problems at the back.
John McGrath’s stunning 57th minute goal looked to be the launchpad for victory yet they simply leaked far too many scores today. Another defeat and another setback for Michael Ryan’s men.
3. Cork’s youngsters shine on the senior stage
Of the 18 players Cork used today, six had never featured before in a Munster senior championship game. Only two of them had seen any summer senior action before, Shane Kingston and Mark Coleman sprung as subs in last year’s qualifiers. For Colm Spillane, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Luke Meade and Michael Cahalane, this was a case of entering unchartered territory.
To start five of them and introduce Cahalane was an investment of faith by the Cork management. Those players rewarded them emphatically. Spillane impressed with his tenacity and ball winning in the air at the back, Coleman’s deliveries were pinpoint in their accuracy and he displayed tremendous vision, while Fitzgibbon was a bundle of energy at midfield.
In attacak Kingston, Meade and Cahalane struck a combined total of 2-7. Kingston and Meade settled impressively in the opening half to land points while Cahalane capped a fairytale comeback by clinically finishing for that second goal.
4. Shootout gets hurling summer off to flying start
The scoreboard illustrated the contrast. At the break Cork and Tipperary were locked at 0-15 apiece, twelve months ago in the corresponding fixture Cork only mustered 0-13 in the entire 70 minutes. This game began with a flurry of early points and both teams ensured the scoreboard was kept ticking over all the way through.
It was a shining feature of the match. 56 scores were served up by the two teams and 18 different players got in on the act. It was an enthralling contest to watch and ignites the 2017 championship
5. Cork look forward in Munster and Tipperary head to the backdoor
There’s a shift now in the outlook for both these teams. Cork move on to the Munster semi-final stage, training their sights on a Waterford team that despatched them twice in Semple Stadium in 2015. This victory should provide a massive surge of confidence for a developing team.
For Tipperary they head to the backdoor, just like they did in 2010 after an early reversal against Cork. Michael Ryan was a selector for that memorable recovery operation, now he is the manager. How they fare in their efforts to revive their 2017 championship will be intriguing.
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