Tipperary 3-14 Cork 2-11
THERE was precious little between the sides in the Munster final, with Tipperary not pressing home their advantage until Cork defender Eoin McCarthy was sent off in the second- half.
But it was an entirely different matter in the All-Ireland Minor Hurling final at Croke Park, when Tipperary chalked up their second under-18 title in a row, the first time they have achieved such a feat since 1957.
Despite Cork making the brighter start and taking a 0-5 to 0-1 lead after 11 minutes, the Munster champions held the edge in most departments for the remainder of the contest.
Although Ryan Clifford and Michael O'Mahony showed excellent score-taking ability in the Cork attack, and forward colleague Luke O'Farrell frequently displayed lightening pace, the Tipperary defence generally significantly blunted the edge of the Rebels' frontline.
Goalkeeper James Logue, except for a late error when he injudiciously advanced off his line and O'Farrell took full advantage to net Cork's second goal just before the final whistle, was steadiness personified.
In front of the Ballingarry club lad Padraig Maher, James Barry and Michael Cahill gave little away.
In midfield, team captain Brendan Maher led by example, and he had a very accomplished partner in Noel McGrath.
Maher shot three points, and McGrath chipped in with one in the first-half.
Up front, Sean Carey, who was promoted to the First XV for this game, fully justified his selection with a 2-1 haul.
And the Moyle Rovers man was particularly well assisted by Michael Heffernan, John O'Neill and Seamus Hennessy.
Despite Cork's excellent start, it was a measure of the dissatisfaction of team boss Don Cronin with his charges' performance that three players -- midfielder Seamus Farrell, full-back Alywin Kearney, and Michael Bowles were replaced in the first-half.
In the opening 11 minutes, Clifford and O'Mahony displayed tremendous long-range point-scoring ability, but O'Mahony drove the ball over the bar, when set up for a goal chance by Bowles after five minutes. After Cork's initial scoring barrage, their opponents responded with five points on the trot, and on 23 minutes Carey registered his first goal, with Rob White responding with Cork's initial goal three minutes later.
At half-time, Tipperary led 1-9 to 1-6, and within a minute of the restart Heffernan lashed the ball to the net for Tipperary's second goal.
Cork responded with a hat-trick of points, to reduce their deficit to 1-9 to 2-10 midway through the half. However, Tipperary out-scored their opponents by five points to two in the next 11 minutes, and the game was put out of Cork's reach when Carey kicked the ball past goalkeeper Darren McCarthy after 61 minutes. Just before the final whistle O'Farrell shot Cork's consolation goal.
Tipperary selector Tommy Dunne said: "Cork put us under a lot of pressure for many periods, but thankfully our finishing was more clinical than theirs, and the goal so quickly in the second-half gave us a valuable bit of daylight."
Cork boss Don Cronin remarked: "We got the start we wanted, but unfortunately we weren't able to maintain the momentum.
"We knew coming into the match that we were up against a very accomplished Tip side, with the likes of (Brendan) Maher, (Michael) Cahill and (Noel) McGrath.
"Our forwards did well on limited possession, but it was tough for our backs against the Tip forwards.''
Scorers - Tipperary -- S Carey (2-1), M Heffernan (1-2), S Hennessy (0-4, 3f), B Maher (0-3), J O'Neill (0-2), N McGrath and P Murphy (0-1 each). Cork -- R Clifford (0-6, 3f), L O'Farrell and R White (1-0 each), M O'Mahony (0-3), P Gould (0-2).
Tipperary -- J Logue, K O'Gorman, Padraig Maher, S O'Brien, J Barry, J Coughlin, M Cahill, B Maher, N McGrath, S Hennessy, C Lorigan, S Carey, J O'Neill, Patrick Maher, M Heffernan. Subs: P Murphy for Patrick Maher (31 minutes), J Gallagher for O'Gorman (51 minutes), D O'Brien for Lorigan (58 minutes).
CORK -- D McCarthy, C Hurley, A Kearney, K Murphy, L McLoughlin, J Herlihy, C O'Donovan, S Farrell, D O'Sullivan, P Gould, M Bowles, M O'Mahony, L O'Farrell, R White, R Clifford. Subs: S McDonnell for Farrell (24 minutes), G O'Connor for Kearney (31 minutes), D Stack for Bowles (h/t), C McCarthy for Stack (51 minutes), E McCarthy for O'Sullivan (61 minutes).
REFEREE -- J Owens (Wexford).