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Dublin: 5°C Friday 5 March 2021

Tipperary get back on track, Cork fade at finish and subs provide crucial scoring touch

A four-point victory delivered the spoils for Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds.

Tipperary's Niall O'Meara and Cork's Shane Kingston.
Tipperary's Niall O'Meara and Cork's Shane Kingston.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

1. Tipperary get back on track

So for the third time as manager Liam Sheedy guided a Tipperary team on the backdoor route of a hurling championship. The 2010 recovery operation began with 14 points to spare over Wexford and the 2019 rehabilitation started when they swept past Laois by ten points. Yesterday saw them get back on track once more after a provincial disappointment but this was a sterner test in both surviving the gruelling winter conditions and the test that Cork posed.

An eventual four-point win will thrill Sheedy. Their display had flaws but after a Munster showing against Limerick that was at times anaemic, the Tipperary boss wanted to detect signs of life in his team. The flying finish, with a Jake Morris goal as the centrepiece, was proof that fight remains in their 2020 challenge.

2. Cork get into winning position but fade late on

In the 60th minute, Patrick Horgan knocked over a ’65 to edge Cork in front and crowned a highly productive 13-minute period where they had outscored Tipperary by 0-8 to 0-2. The momentum lay with Cork, and even though they were still level by the 65th minute, they still paid in this qualifier for not possessing a stronger kick heading down the straight.

After that Horgan ’65, Cork only managed another two points and the late Bill Cooper score in the final moments was their first point from play since the 58th minute. Cork packed plenty aggression and intensity into their display in the middle phase of the second half yet when it placed them in the driving seat, they could not round it off with victory. 

After hurling into a storm in the first half, Cork then saw the severity of the conditions notably ease when Tipperary were facing the elements. But they were still in a winning position and forced to rue that opportunity slipping away.

3. Starting changes work out for Tipperary

Friday night’s Tipperary team reveal brought about the news of three changes from that Limerick reversal. If the county’s followers rejoiced at news of Bonner Maher’s fitness, it was the input of the other two additions that swung this game. Michael Breen and Dan McCormack were thrown in to try to salvage something in the second-half of that Páirc Uí Chaoimh loss.

Yesterday they were in from the start and contributed 0-7 between them. That was a third of the total number of white flags raised from play. No player hit more than Breen, his tally of five invaluable, while McCormack supplemented his customary graft with a brace.

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Amidst the November rain this game descended into a dogfight and that duo’s abrasiveness and dynamism were crucial ingredients. Backed by a gale, a couple of Breen’s first-half scores were particularly sublime. With his team striking 12 wides in the first half, and 18 overall, that accuracy was required.

paul-flynn-scores-a-point-despite-tim-omahony Paul Flynn fires over a point for Tipperary against Cork. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

4. Subs provide boost to get winners over the line

It’s rare that the McGrath brothers are peripheral figures in a championship game for Tipperary. They were both withdrawn by the mid stage of the second half and on a day when the wides kept rising for the 2019 champions, the impetus from the bench proved vital. September’s county final success for Kiladangan has proved a springboard, both Willie Connors and Paul Flynn making telling contributions in this win.

26-year-old Flynn, the captain for their club’s famous moment, joined his twin brother Alan in action and shot over 0-2 from play on his senior championship bow. Connors, who was a regular off the bench last summer, also struck a point, set up Flynn’s last score and produced the sublime pick up and offload which sparked the game-breaking Morris goal. With Cork getting no scores off those they introduced from the bench, those cameos helped swing this encounter Tipperary’s way.

5. Another miserable Gaelic Grounds evening for Cork hurling

When Cork and Tipperary have met at Limerick’s GAA home for hurling clashes recently, the pattern of results has been clear. The 2018 U21 and 2019 U20 finals both saw Tipperary claim the silverware on offer, this 2020 qualifier saw their senior campaign revived.

For Cork it represents a Round 2 exit, a similar outcome to that delivered in Kieran Kingston’s first season in charge back in 2016. Their form hit a huge slump in the opener against Waterford. If there was an upswing against Dublin and for a large chunk of this Tipperary match, the seasonal record still makes for underwhelming reading and recurring issues hover over the side as they turn to the 2021 season.


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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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