Tipp turn tables to give Rebels boss McCarthy more food for thought
Tipperary 3-16 Cork 1-16
Given how recent meetings between the counties have gone, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that Tipperary overcame Cork in Division 2 on Saturday evening.
However, having trailed by a point, 0-9 to 0-8, at half-time and then falling three behind, the fact that the Premier County turned things around to win by six is both a sign of their continued progress and proof that Cork's rebuilding won't be an overnight process.
Beyond the bare figures, the fact that Tipp had no debutants whereas Cork gave six players their first league starts and were without key names is further proof of the unshocking nature of the result. It was refreshing, therefore, to hear Tipp boss Liam Kearns say that he expected his side to win.
"We've targeted the first three matches because we have a very serious prospect next Sunday against Roscommon," he said. "They are the Connacht champions and favourites for promotion in my view. Cork were favourites, we were told, for this match and they were favourites for promotion.
"In fairness to Cork, they are missing all the Nemo guys, they are missing Aidan Walsh [all with All-Ireland club commitments]. They are missing a handful of players whereas we were at full strength so the onus was on us to go and win the match. I couldn't understand how pundits were saying they were going to win the game. If they did, we were in big trouble."
With the way the Munster draw has gone, there is every chance that these counties will clash in a semi-final, and from there, target a place in the new Super Eights. To that end, Kearns is keen to engender competition for places. How successful that will be he doesn't know yet, but there were a lot of good signs here.
"You are going to need a panel this year," he said. "We have strengthened our panel, we don't know by how much yet. Certainly, we were able to make some changes and we got the job done. We were missing Philip Austin, Kevin O'Halloran and Paddy Codd. But, other than that, we had a clear enough bill of health."
Tipp led by 0-4 to 0-1 early on but Cork settled, with Mark Collins impressing as they scored six in a row to take control. While Jack Kennedy and Liam Boland brought Tipp back to within one coming up to half-time, Cork had a great chance to extend the advantage when Seán Powter was fouled for a penalty.
Evan Comerford saved well from Stephen Sherlock who showed he wasn't affected as he kicked the first two points of the second half.
Tipp were hanging in and Liam McGrath fisted over and though Collins' fourth point was Cork's response, they would then be held scoreless for a 12-minute period in which Tipp scored 2-4.
Reduce McGrath - who finished with 2-5 - and Michael Quinlivan got the goals while Conor Sweeney added two points and suddenly the visitors were 2-13 to 0-12 in front. Sub Colm O'Neill reduced the gap with a goal, but Tipp never looked rattled and victory was assured when McGrath added another goal late on.
Cork coach Ronan McCarthy acknowledged that things didn't go for them in front of goal.
"It is disappointing to lose the game," he said. "At half-time, we were a point up and probably should have been further ahead. We started slowly and were 0-4 to 0-1 down. We grabbed a foothold in the game and did quite well at times. We would have felt we should have had more on the board at half-time.
"On another night, we could have had more four goals. We didn't. They took their chances."
Scorers - Tipperary: L McGrath 2-5 (2f), M Quinlivan 1-2 (1 45), J Kennedy (2f), C Sweeney (1f) 0-3 each, L Boland, B Fox, S O'Brien 0-1 each. Cork: S Sherlock (3f), M Collins (1f) 0-5 each, C O'Neill 1-1 (1f), S White 0-2, J O'Rourke, S Powter, R Deane all 0-1.
Tipperary - E Comerford 8; S O'Connell 6, J Feehan 7, E Moloney 7; B Maher 6, A Campbell 7, R Kiely 6; S O'Brien 8, J Kennedy 8; J Keane 7, C Sweeney 8, B Fox 7; L Boland 6, M Quinlivan 8, L McGrath 9. Subs: L Casey 6 for Boland (h-t), J Meagher 7 for Feehan (43), K Fahey for Kiely (62), B Martin for McGrath, C O'Shaughnessy for O'Connell, George Hannigan for O'Brien (all 70).
Cork - M White 6; S Ryan 6, J O'Sullivan 6, M McSweeney 7; K Flahive 6, K Crowley 6, B O'Driscoll 6; I Maguire 7, D O'Callaghan 7; S White 6, S Powter 7, R Deane 7; J O'Rourke 6, M Collins 7, S Sherlock 7. Subs: C O'Neill 7 for Powter (47), K O'Hanlon 6 for O'Callaghan (50), M Hurley 6 for O'Rourke (53), T Clancy for O'Driscoll (58), K O'Driscoll for S White (65), C Dorman for Maguire (66, inj).
Ref - P O'Sullivan (Kerry)