AS MUNSTER RIVALS Cork and Tipperary prepare to lock horns in what promises to be an epic All-Ireland senior hurling championship semi-final at Croke Park next Sunday, we cast a glance back to classic games of the past.
When blood and bandage meets blue and gold, sparks fly and more the same is expected at GAA HQ.
Here are seven of the best moments from days gone by:
Tipperary 4-13 Cork 4-11
31 July, 1960 at Thurles Sportsfield
We’re going back, way back, for our first classic moment. 54 years in fact, when Tipperary edged a titanic tussle in July, 1960. This game has been described as one of the most fiercely contested of all time, as the great Jimmy Doyle showcased his vast array of skills. Thurles native Doyle, who finished a glittering career with six All-Ireland medals, scored 1-8 for Tipp as the Premier County held out a late fightback from the Rebels to claim the spoils.
Cork 1-18 Tipperary 1-18
12 July, 1987 at Semple Stadium
Tipp forward Nicky English scored one of those goals that hurlers can only dream about, when he kicked the ball to the net after losing his hurley. That famous score put Tipp ahead by seven points in the second half and seemingly on their way to a first Munster title since 1971. But in a gripping finale, Cork came roaring back to salvage a draw. A famous banner on show at the 1989 All-Ireland final proclaimed that ‘Nicky strikes faster than An Post.’ And he didn’t even need ash in hand to make his mark.
Tipperary 4-22 Cork 1-22
19 July, 1987 at FitzGerald Stadium
Conventional wisdom suggested that Cork were favourites for the replay after coming from the dead but Tipp had other ideas. They still needed English at his brilliant best to force the game into extra-time, however, before Michael Doyle came off the bench to plunder two goals. Doyle, son of the late, great John, was on fire and Donie O’Connell also netted in extra-time, leaving bloodied captain Richie Stakelum to proclaim that the Famine was over. Tipp were Munster champions for the first time in 16 years.
Cork 4-16 Tipperary 2-14
15 July, 1990 at Semple Stadium
The famous ‘donkeys don’t win derbies’ clash saw Cork ram the pre-match taunts of then Tipp manager Michael ‘Babs’ Keating back down his throat. Tipp were All-Ireland champions, having defeated Antrim in the 1989 decider, but their reign was ended by a Cork side that would go on to claim one half of an historic dual double. Mark Foley shot the lights out, bagging 2-7 during the course of a sensational individual display. And as the donkeys sprinted the final furlong to win by eight points, Cork weren’t slow about letting Keating know what they thought of his comments.
Cork 4-10 : 2-16 Tipperary
7 July, 1991 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Another epic encounter between Tipp and Cork saw Tipp fall four points behind at half-time but a late Pat Fox leveller took the game to a replay. When Tipp and Cork met in 1985, Fox, then a corner back, was scorched by Tomas Mulcahy but the gamekeeper turned poacher in later years, with devastating effect. First half goals by John Fitzgibbon and Ger Fitzgerald had Cork in a strong position but a young John Leahy kept Tipp clinging on to Rebel coattails. And after that man English had a legitimate equaliser disallowed late on, Fox saved Tipp’s bacon.
Tipperary 4-19 : 4-15 Cork
20 July, 1991 at Semple Stadium
A tumultuous encounter at Semple Stadium saw Tipperary come from nine points down to win another Munster title. And it was a quite superb Aidan Ryan goal late on that sparked a mass pitch invasion from the Killinan End. Before all that, Cork led by 3-13 to 1-10 with just a quarter of the game remaining. But Tipp kept plugging away and goals from Fox and Declan Carr, captain for the year, hauled them level. Tipp surged into a two-point lead and the scene was set for Ryan to gallop through and crown a magnificent win. Cork goal machine Fitzgibbon responded with Cork’s fourth goal late on but Tipp held out and would add the Liam MacCarthy Cup in September.
Tipperary 1-19 : 1-13 Cork
8 June, 2008 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Our last flashback provides one of the most memorable moments from the Liam Sheedy era in Tipperary, as the Premier boss went berserk after a famous win. In his first season in charge, Sheedy couldn’t have asked for a better place to claim Tipp’s first championship victory on Cork soil since 1923. The crowd on the Blackrock End was so tight that punters spilled over onto the goalline behind Donal Óg Cusack in the first half. And Eoin Kelly beat Cusack with a stunning goal to haul Tipp back into contention, after they had trailed by seven points with 20 minutes on the watch.