Five of the best: Munster hurling finals

Ahead of tomorrow’s decider between Tipp and Waterford, Ger McCarthy takes a look at five memorable Munster showdowns from the past 20 years.

Clare celebrate victory over Tipp in the 1997 Munster SHC Final.
Clare celebrate victory over Tipp in the 1997 Munster SHC Final.
Image: ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

APART FROM THE All-Ireland Hurling Final, the annual Munster provincial decider is regarded as one of the must-see matches on the GAA calendar. Every neutral fan and casual hurling follower makes a point of watching the most eagerly-anticipated hurling encounters of the summer where form goes out the window and 70 minutes of full-blooded action is always guaranteed.

Tipperary and Waterford are set for battle this Sunday to see who will be crowned 2011 Kings of Munster as well as securing an automatic All-Ireland Championship semi-final berth. It says much for the legacy of the southern provincial title that despite the introduction of a back door system, winning the Munster title still means so much to players and supporters alike.

Some of the best games of hurling ever played have occurred during the Munster championship which began back in 1888 with Cork crowned inaugural champions. The following are just five examples of some of the most memorable finals ever to have been contested in the province.

1991: Tipperary 2-16 Cork 4-10

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

The sides couldn’t be separated following an energy-sapping draw at Páirc Uí Chaoimh before Tipperary bested the Rebels in a superb replay at a heaving Semple Stadium. Aidan Ryan secured victory with an injury-time goal after a Cork side trailing by two points had seen a Tomás Mulcahy effort hacked off the line.

Tipperary: Ken Hogan; Paul Delaney, Noel Sheehy, Michael Ryan; John Madden, Bobby Ryan, Conal Bonnar; Colm Bonnar, Declan Carr (c); Declan Ryan, Donie O’Connell, John Leahy; Pat Fox, Cormac Bonnar, Michael Cleary. Subs: Aidan Ryan and Joe Hayes. Conor O’Donovan, Joe Hayes and Nicky English played in the drawn game.

1997: Clare 1-18 Tipperary 0-18

Maybe not the most memorable Munster hurling match of all time but Clare’s historic victory over their age old rivals Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh will long be remembered for captain and current Dublin manager Anthony Daly’s heartfelt acceptance speech – including the famous line ‘no longer the whipping boys of Munster’ – following the Banner’s narrow victory.

Clare: Davy Fitzgerald; Michael O’Halloran, Brian Lohan, Frank Lohan; Liam Doyle, Sean McMahon, Anthony Daly (c); Ollie Baker, Colin Lynch; James O’Connor, Fergus Tuohy, PJ O’Connell; Stephen McNamara, Ger O’Loughlin, Barry Murphy. Subs: David Forde, Andrew Whelan, Conor Clancy.

2000: Cork 0-23 Tipperary 3-12

This 2000 Semple Stadium Munster decider turned to be another epic encounter between Cork and Tipperary with the Rebels eventually winning out thanks to a virtuoso performance from Joe Deane who finished with 10 points of his side’s total. The lead changed hands on numerous occasions until Cork pucked over four consecutive scores late on to snatch a terrific win.

Cork: Donal Óg Cusack; Fergal Ryan (c), Diarmuid O’Sullivan, John Browne; Wayne Sherlock, Brian Corcoran, Sean Óg Ó hAilpín; Mickey O’Connell, Derek Barrett; Timmy McCarthy, Fergal McCormack, Alan Browne; Sean McGrath, Joe Deane, Ben O’Connor. Subs: Pat Ryan and Kevin Murray.

2002: Waterford 2-23 Tipperary 3-12

History was made in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on June 30th when Waterford secured a first Munster title in nearly 40 years at the expense of a talented Tipperary outfit.  The Premier county entered the provincial decider as reigning All-Ireland title holders and clear favourites but on an emotionally draining afternoon, the Déise produced a marvellous performance best encapsulated by an injured Ken McGrath’s contribution of seven points.

Waterford: Stephen Brenner; Brian Flannery, Tom Feeney, Brian Greene; Eoin Murphy, Fergal Hartley (c), Peter Queally; Tony Browne, James Murray; Eoin Kelly, Seamus Prendergast, Paul Flynn; John Mullane, Ken McGrath, Eoin McGrath. Subs: Dave Bennett, Micheal White, Andy Moloney and Dan Shanahan.

2004: Waterford 3-16 Cork 1-21

The 2004 decider between Waterford and Cork is regarded by many hurling aficionados as the best Munster final of all time. The Semple Stadium encounter certainly contained all the ingredients of a classic between two well matched sides, plenty of goalmouth action and a rabid pace from the opening minute.

Despite having star forward John Mullane sent off Waterford produced a marvellous second half display including a magnificent Paul Flynn goal to defeat Cork by a single point. The Rebels rebounded before the year was out to win the All-Ireland title.

Waterford: Stephen Brenner; James Murray, Declan Prendergast, Eoin Murphy; Tony Browne, Ken McGrath (c), Brian Phelan; Eoin Kelly, Dave Bennett; Dan Shanahan, Michael Walsh, Paul Flynn; John Mullane, Seamus Prendergast, Eoin McGrath. Subs: Paul O’Brien, Shane O’Sullivan and Jack Kennedy.

Follow Ger on Twitter for regular GAA updates: @offcentrecircle

Read: Déise make three changes for Tipp clash >

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