Rebels dish out premier pounding
IT wasn't so much the actual defeat but the scope and scale of Cork's superiority which stunned Tipperary in Pairc Ui Chaoimh yesterday.
Cork-Tipperary championship clashes have been taking on unpredictable personality quirks down through history and the pattern continued in a manner nobody could possibly have anticipated.
The pre-match view was that if there were going to be easy winners it was more likely to be Tipperary and that if Cork were to prevail it would be by the slimmest of margins chiselled out in the closing minutes.
Instead, it was Cork who had this Munster first-round clash neatly packed away by the hour mark when Aisake O hAilpin scored their third goal, which was the least he deserved for what was probably the most influential performance of the day.
From there on, it was exhibition time for Cork as they sprayed the ball around with calm authority while counting down the clock in front of their delighted supporters who, while always optimistic about their side's prospects, must have been surprised by the sheer scale of the dominance.
Many of the Tipperary supporters had left before the finish after enduring an afternoon which certainly didn't figure even in the small print of a script which was supposed to take them on another Munster championship adventure before launching the big push for All-Ireland glory.
Instead, Tipperary were beaten in every sector, especially in the second half during which their only score from play came from sub Timmy Hammersley. That suggests a total power failure in attack which was indeed the case as the Cork defence cut off all the supply lines.
Lar Corbett, John O'Brien and Seamus Callanan had looked as if they were building up for big performances at times in the first half but it all fizzled into nothing in the second half as Cork erected layers of control which ultimately took them 10 points clear at the end.
The experienced half-back trio, John Gardiner, Ronan Curran and Sean Og O hAilpin were outstanding, both in terms of curbing their opponents and in setting up opportunities for their forwards. Further in, the full-back line of Shane O'Neill, Eoin Cadogan and Brian Murphy had the measure of various opponents while Donal Og Cusack was as reliable as ever in goal.
His accurate puck-outs were a central ploy in Cork's ball retention game. He repeatedly found colleagues with short and long deliveries which, in turn, were moved on with speed and precision.
Given Cusack's noted prowess on puck-outs, it was surprising that Tipperary didn't react better. Instead, they continued to leave Cork men unmarked, allowing Cusack to pick them out with great consistency.
However, it was at the other end of the field that the tone was set from very early on. Aisake O hAilpin had troubled Padraic Maher in the league game last month but the general view was that the Tipperary All Star full-back would be back to 2009 performance levels for the championship.
Not so. O hAilpin beat him to the first ball to begin a significant chain of events. It quickly became immediately apparent that route-one ball into the Tipperary goal area would be a productive approach for Cork.
Maher was booked in the 13th minute which added further to his problems and ten minutes later, Tipperary re-jigged the defence with Paul Curran taking over at full-back, Michael Cahill moving to No 4 and Maher switching to the half-back line.
Tipperary had looked dangerous in attack early on with Corbett a menacing presence as they built up an 0-3 to 0-1 lead after 10 minutes. However, four minutes later, O hAilpin was fouled after making a spectacular catch and Patrick Horgan dispatched the penalty to the net. Horgan struck for a second goal nine minutes later after another high take by O hAilpin.
It helped Cork to an interval lead of 2-5 to 0-9, an advantage which was cut to a point in the first minute of the second half when Eoin Kelly pointed a free. Briefly, it looked as if Tipperary were beginning to re-locate the rhythm which enabled them to dominate Munster for the past two seasons but it didn't last long.
The really crucial spell came between the 40th and 45th minutes when Cork scored five points and came mighty close to scoring a goal, only for Cathal Naughton's drive for goal to be blocked out for a '65 by Brendan Cummins.
Now, Cork were leading by six points and, equally importantly, had taken control to such a degree that a Tipperary revival looked increasingly unlikely with each passing minute. Two pointed frees by Eoin Kelly gave them a brief glimmer of hope but they could manage just two more points over the final 21 minutes whereas Cork added 1-5, the goal coming from O hAilpin in the 60th minute.
Worryingly for Tipperary, there was little of their trademark spirit on display in the closing stages. It was as if they had written off the day as a disaster and saw little point in chasing Cork around Pairc Ui Chaoimh in what was clearly a lost cause.
Instead, they allowed Cork to indulge the flashier aspects of their game as they picked out colleagues -- both with handpasses and long/short deliveries to the strain of the 'The Banks' wafting down from the delighted terraces.
Truly, a day for Cork to savour while, for Tipperary, the jigsaw pieces are scattered all over the place and will need very careful sorting before they head out on the All-Ireland qualifier circuit.
The attendance was 36,827 which was 6,000 less than when the sides clashed in Pairc Ui Chaoimh two years ago. However, it was 1,725 more than attended the corresponding tie in Thurles last year.
Scorers -- Cork: P Horgan 2-2, B O'Connor 0-5 (3f), A O hAilpin 1-1, J Gardiner (1f, 1 '65'), C Naughton, N McCarthy 0-2 each, P O'Sullivan 0-1. Tipperary: E Kelly 0-7 (5f, 2'65'), L Corbett, J O'Brien 0-2 each, S Callanan, B Maher, T Hammersley 0-1 each.
Cork -- D Og Cusack 7; S O'Neill 7, E Cadogan 8, B Murphy 7; J Gardiner 8, R Curran 8, S Og O hAilpin 8; T Kenny 7, C Naughton 7; B O'Connor 7, J O'Connor 7, N McCarthy 7; K Murphy 7, A O hAilpin 9, P Horgan 8. Subs: M Cussen 6 for McCarthy (61), P O'Sullivan for Horgan (65), L McLoughlin for Kenny (72).
Tipperary -- B Cummins 7; P Stapleton 6, P Maher 5, P Curran 6; D Fanning 5, C O'Mahony 5, M Cahill 6; B Maher 7, S McGrath 6; N McGrath 5, S Callanan 6, J O'Brien 6; E Kelly 5, B O'Meara 5, L Corbett 6. Subs: S Hennessy 5 for O'Meara (43), G Ryan 5 for O' Mahony (57), T Hammersley 6 for N McGrath (62), J Brennan for J O'Brien (66), C O'Brien for S McGrath (68).
Ref -- B Kelly (Westmeath).