Wednesday 25 April 2018

Dual star Aidan Walsh gets Cork out of jail with late winner


Aidan Walsh, Cork, celebrates after the game. Munster GAA Football Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Cork v Tipperary, Páirc Ui Chaoimh, Cork
Aidan Walsh, Cork, celebrates after the game. Munster GAA Football Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Cork v Tipperary, Páirc Ui Chaoimh, Cork
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

COMETH the hour, cometh the dual hero.

Cork footballers were staring down the barrel of defeat in the Munster SFC semi-final but, not for the first time, the intervention of brilliant dual star Aidan Walsh helped them crawl across the line in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

Three points from the gifted Kanturk man in the dying minutes - the first two with his right foot and the last with his left - gave the leadership needed to keep his own and Cork's Munster 'double' hopes alive.

Underdogs Tipperary, who lost this year's Division Four final, led them by three points 12 minutes into the second half and were still two up with four minutes of proper time left but Peter Creedon's men literally kicked this victory away and will forever rue their nine second-half wides, on top of five more before the break.

When their energy and accuracy began to flag Cork's superior bench made the difference and no one more than Walsh who kicked over three astonishing points in-a-row.

The first was in the 68th minute, to cut the deficit to one. He equalised 10 seconds into the three minutes of additional time and then put them clear two minutes later.

And in the final frenetic minute Barry O'Driscoll added a late insurance point to steal what would have been a historic victory from Tipp's grasp.

They hadn't beaten Cork in Munster since 1944 but a shock looked on the cards right from the start and they led by a point (1-7 to 0-9) at half-time, courtesy of a Conor Sweeney goal just before the break.

The visitors threw down the gauntlet right from throw-in and Sweeney actually had a good goal chance saved by Ken O'Halloran in the second minute.

Undeterred they kicked on and went three points clear in the opening quarter with a brilliant performance from their half-back line, with Colin O'Riordan and Peter Acheson outstanding.

But then Tipp didn't score for 17 minutes and Cork came back at them, with Brian Hurley particularly dangerous in front of goal.

John Hayes nearly got in for a goal which Peter Acheson miraculously cleared off the line and it was in the ensuing counter-attack that Steven O'Brien found Sweeney and the Ballyporeen star, who was the highest scorer in the country during the league, crashed in Tipp's goal at the perfect time.

On the re-start Tipp kicked on into another three-point lead and Cork manager Brian Cuthbert emptied his bench early, taking off four of his starting forwards.

If Tipp could have got even one more score in the third quarter it might have sealed a sensational victory but their shooting went badly awry at times.

When Brian Mulvihill put them two points ahead in the 68th minute it still looked like they were going to hang on and pull off the biggest shock of the season.

But Cork's experience and bench got them out of fire and no one did more than Walsh who is now set to grace two Munster  senior finals this summer.

Scorers - Cork: A Walsh 0-3, D Goulding 0-3 (3f), M Collins and B O'Driscoll 0-2 each,  C O'Neill 0-2(2f), F Goold, P Kerrigan and J Hayes 0-1 each, B Hurley 0-1 (f). Tipperary: C Sweeney 1-3 (3f), B Grogan 0-3 (2f), C O'Riordan, P Acheson, S O'Brien, M Quinlivan and B Mulvihill 0-1 each.

Cork - K O'Halloran; M Shields, T Clancy, N Galvin; J Loughrey, P Kelly, J O'Rourke; A O'Sullivan, F Goold; M Collins, P Kerrigan, B O'Driscoll; D Goulding, B Hurley, J Hayes. Subs - Aidan Walsh for O'Sullivan (34), E Cadogan for Goulding (half-time), C O'Neill for Kerrigan (45), C O'Driscoll for Collins (51), D Og Hodnett for Hurley (52), C Vaughan for Clancy (62).

Tipperary - P Fitzgerald; G Mulhair, P Codd, C McDonald; C O'Riordan, R Kiely, P Acheson; S O'Brien, G Hannigan; P Austin, I Fahey, B Fox; C Sweeney, M Quinlivan, B Grogan. Subs - B Mulvihill for Fahey (43), J Coghlan for Austin (57),C McCullough for Grogan (60), H Coghlan for Hannigan (66), A Campbell for Mulhair (69).

Referee - F Kelly (Longford).

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