Monday 24 July 2017

Connolly steers Rebels out of tight Tipp spot

Cork 1-10 Tipperary 1-9

Jimmy Feehan of Tipperary reacts to a challenge from Cork’s Paul Kerrigan. Photo: Sportsfile
Jimmy Feehan of Tipperary reacts to a challenge from Cork’s Paul Kerrigan. Photo: Sportsfile

John Brennan

Cork won, but that result covers a multitude of their ills against Tipperary last night. They say a one-point win is as good as a 10-point one, but that's the margin Cork might have lost by had Tipp converted a gaping goal chance 10 minutes into the second half.

Had Robbie Kiely scored, or passed to the excellent Conor Sweeney, the scoreline would have been 1-6 to 0-1, and a grand opening day at the new-look Páirc Uí Chaoimh - with a likely Munster final against Kerry - would have been a long way away.

Josh Keane of Tipperary in action against Peter Kelleher of Cork. Photo: Sportsfile
Josh Keane of Tipperary in action against Peter Kelleher of Cork. Photo: Sportsfile

In truth, for long spells of this poor match Cork were awful, scoring just one point in the first half when they had the wind at their backs.

But Cork's bench was much better than Tipperary's and that was a key factor. The introductions of Donncha O'Connor and Mark Collins were a huge boost to Cork as they struggled for traction.

The substitutes drove their team forward and found a great ally in skipper Paul Kerrigan, who demanded so much from his team-mates in their second-half rally.

Tipp will regret some missed chances but perhaps the biggest regret was the injury to their best player Michael Quinlivan midway through the first half.

Kevin Crowley of Cork in action against Liam McGrath of Tipperary during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Cork and Tipperary at Pairc Ui Rinn in Cork. Photo: Sportsfile
Kevin Crowley of Cork in action against Liam McGrath of Tipperary during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Cork and Tipperary at Pairc Ui Rinn in Cork. Photo: Sportsfile

He would have been such a presence in the second half, and manager Liam Kearns could have pulled the strapping Quinlivan out to midfield, an area of the pitch they were getting little change from.

Cork just about got away with this, but if the result goes Kerry's way in Ennis this afternoon, the Kingdom backroom team will not be panicking when they review this video.

After that awful opening, the game finished in a welter of excitement with Sweeney getting a great goal to put Tipperary ahead as five minutes of injury-time loomed.

But straight from the kick-out, Cork came down the pitch and transferred the ball at pace for Luke Connolly to palm home the winning goal. Four more minutes of play brought no score as Cork played out time, not always comfortably.

What that video will tell Kerry is to just put Cork's players under pressure and they will make mistakes. Kerry would keep it going for 70 minutes in a manner that a short-handed Tipp couldn't with so many top players off the pitch for various reasons by the end of the game. An underdog cannot afford absentees and Tipp had too many by the end last night.

If the Kingdom oblige, Páirc Uí Chaoimh will get its big opening-day showpiece of Cork and Kerry in three weeks' time. But on this evidence, it will not be much of a match.

Scorers - Cork: L Connolly 1-3, D O'Connor 0-3, P Kerrigan 0-2, Barry O'Driscoll, M Collins 0-1 each. Tipperary: C Sweeney 1-5, L Boland, K O'Halloran, R Kiely, L McGrath 0-1 each.

Cork: K O'Halloran; J Loughrey, J O'Sullivan, Brian O'Driscoll; T Clancy, M Shields, K Crowley; I Maguire, R Deane; C O'Driscoll, L Connolly, J O'Rourke; C O'Neill, P Kelleher, P Kerrigan. Subs: D O'Connor for Kelleher (31), Barry O'Driscoll for Brian O'Driscoll (34), S Powter for C O'Driscoll (h-t), M Collins for Deane (51).

Tipperary: C Kenrick; S O'Connell, P Codd, A Campbell; B Maher, R Kiely, J Feehan; L Casey, G Hannigan; J Keane, L Boland, B Fox; C Sweeney, M Quinlivan, D Foley. Subs: L McGrath for Quinlivan (18), K O'Halloran for Foley (47), A Moloney for Casey (53), K Bergin for Hannigan, C O'Shaughnessy for O'Connell both (57).

Referee: C Branagan (Down).

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