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JBM's men to squeak through as Munster tribes go to war in Croke Park for very first time

CHRISTY Ring once opined: "you can say what you like, but the only team you can hurl all-out against are Tipperary."

Not that much has changed, then.

Except Christy probably never imagined Cork and Tipperary playing in Croke Park in an 
All-Ireland semi-final.

Yet if we're to discard the historical significance of tomorrow's fixture, and deal with the hurling specifics; form, experience, confidence, firepower and grit ... it's still almost impossible to call with any convincing degree of confidence.

Even by Tipp's own admission, their performance wasn't great against Dublin. Which, given that they won by 12 points, means the game was pretty bad and Dublin, worse again.

Indeed, it was no preparation whatsoever for what Tipp will face in headquarters tomorrow.

For a start, one of Dublin's most debilitating ailments - even through their League and Leinster successes of recent years - is their lack of goals.

Cork have no such problems.

And in Alan Cadogan and Patrick Horgan, they have two men whose naturally inclination is to cut a path towards the opposition's goalkeeper every time.

Nor is Cork's threat confined to that pairing. In Conor Lehane and Seamus Harnedy, they possess a couple of ball-winners, pace-merchants and natural scorers.

An area in which Tipp are pretty impressively endowed themselves.

Seamus Callanan and 'Bonner' Maher have become the most important players on the team ... but would you bank against either Noel McGrath or Lar Corbett exploding in Croke Park?

It might sound over simplistic, but the result could hinge very pronouncedly on which defence holds up more rigorously.

Solace

When Paddy Stapleton said during the week that the Tipperary backs took huge solace from their clean sheet against Dublin, he meant it.

There were plenty who could have done better to prevent Shane Dowling's first goal in Thurles and the volume of damage that Johnny Glynn wreaked was in disproportion to the amount of ball that came his way.

Even the concession of a goal 
to Offaly, scored by Colin Egan, could be deemed wholly unnecessary.

Remember, this is the 
first time any of these Tipp defenders have played in front 
of a goalkeeper that wasn't Brendan Cummins, so there 
must be at least some collateral damage from the retirement of such an influential figure.

Cork, conversely, just look that bit more secure.

Both in terms of their defence, and as a likely winner.

ODDS: Tipperary 21/20, Draw 9/1, Cork EVS

VERDICT: Cork

CORK: A Nash; S O'Neill, D Cahalane, S McDonnell; 
C Joyce, M Ellis, L McLoughlin; D Kearney, A Walsh; 
C Lehane, B Cooper, S Harnedy; A Cadogan, P Cronin, P Horgan.

TIPPERARY: D Gleeson; C Barrett, Pádraic Maher, 
P Stapleton; B Maher, J Barry, K Bergin; S McGrath, 
J Woodlock; G Ryan, Patrick Maher, J O'Dwyer; 
N McGrath, S Callanan, L Corbett.


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