Saturday 24 February 2018

Tipperary stun Cork to set up Munster final with Kerry

Tipperary 3-15 Cork 2-16

Brian Fox of Tipperary celebrates scoring his side's third goal
Brian Fox of Tipperary celebrates scoring his side's third goal

Jackie Cahill at Semple Stadium

TIPPERARY, remarkably, are through to a first Munster SFC final since 2002.

Managed by Liam Kearns, the Premier County stunned Cork in this afternoon’s epic semi-final at Semple Stadium.

Rank outsiders before throw-in, Tipp had two injury-time points from Kevin O’Halloran, both from placed balls, to set up a provincial final with Kerry on July 3, after Cork had come from nine points down to level.

It was Tipp’s first senior football championship victory over Cork since 1944 and thoroughly deserved as the Leesiders were sent hurtling towards the qualifiers.

Cork levelled in the final minute through skipper Paul Kerrigan but there was still time left for O’Halloran to nail an ice-cool 45 before he set the seal on a remarkable afternoon by slamming over a close-range free.

Kearns was in charge of Limerick when they stunned Cork by ten points in 2003 but this is an even more seismic result by football standards.

Brian O'Driscoll of Cork in action against Peter Acheson, left, and Shane Leahy of Tipperary
Brian O'Driscoll of Cork in action against Peter Acheson, left, and Shane Leahy of Tipperary

Tipp saw a nine-point lead whittled away as Cork drew level in the final minute through Paul Kerrigan.

At half-time, Tipperary led by seven points, 2-7 to 0-6, and a shock was very much on the cards.

The sides were level three times in the opening ten minutes and Tipp also missed an eighth-minute penalty, when captain Peter Acheson saw his effort well-saved by Cork goalkeeper Ryan Price.

Crucially, Kevin O’Halloran nailed the resultant ’45 and Acheson was able to put that miss behind him with a classy point from play later in the half.

Kevin O'Driscoll of Cork in action against Brian Fox of Tipperary
Kevin O'Driscoll of Cork in action against Brian Fox of Tipperary

Tipp’s opening goal arrived in the 14th minute, buried by Conor Sweeney after the hosts capitalised on a loose kick-out.

George Hannigan won possession and fed Brian Fox, before Sweeney profited from a perfectly-timed off-load to net at the Killinan End.

Cork, who registered nine first half wides, were rattled but Conor Dorman, one of their better players in the first half, scored his second point from play to leave four points between them, Tipp ahead by 1-5 to 0-4.

There was a little moment for the history books then when Brian Hurley’s free was judged wide by HawkEye, the first football call in Thurles from the new technology.

John O’Rourke and Mark Collins scored points to bring Cork back to within two as Tipp endured a 14-minute barren period on the scoreboard.

But Tipp, playing against the breeze, finished the half with 1-2, and the goal was an avoidable concession from a Cork viewpoint.

Referee John Neilan played a good advantage as Brian Fox was fouled on his way through and when the ball squirted loose, Michael Quinlivan was on hand to boot a soccer-style effort beneath the body of Ryan Price, who could have done better.

Tipp then suffered a blow when Josh Keane was black-carded but the Premier County shrugged off that blow to claim the final point of the half, Quinlivan shooting his second from play in stoppage time.

The second half was an absolute rollercoaster in front of 2,724 spectators as Tipp surged into nine-point leads twice before Cork, with Mark Collins scoring the first of his two goals, narrowing the gap back to four, 1-10 to 2-11.

Tipp, with Brian Fox scoring a quick-fire 1-1, were nine points clear again, 3-13 to 1-10, with eight minutes remaining.

But Cork bagged a second goal through Collins in the 66th minute and remarkably, were level through Kerrigan before O’Halloran’s late brace sent Tipp into dreamland. 

Tipp finished with 14 players Billy Hewitt was black-carded in the fifth minute of stoppage time but the clock ran out on Cork.

Scorers for Tipperary: M Quinlivan 1-3 (0-1f), K O’Halloran 0-7 (3f, 2 45s), B Fox 1-1, C Sweeney 1-0, P Acheson 0-2, C McDonald & B Maher 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cork: M Collins 2-1, D O’Connor (3f) & P Kerrigan (1f) 0-3 each, C Dorman, C O’Neill (2f) & D Goulding (1f) 0-2 each, B Hurley, J O’Rourke & P Kelleher 0-1 each.

TIPPERARY: E Comerford; C McDonald, C O’Shaughnessy, A Campbell; B Maher, R Kiely, J Feehan; P Acheson, G Hannigan; P Austin, K O’Halloran, B Fox; J Keane, M Quinlivan, C Sweeney.

Subs: S Leahy for Keane (b/c 35), M Dunne for Kiely (55), I Fahey for Austin (60), A Moloney for Sweeney (68), S O’Connell for Maher (70), B Hewitt for Fahey (b/c 70+3).

CORK: R Price; J Loughrey, E Cadogan, C O’Driscoll; K O’Driscoll, B O’Driscoll, T Clancy; S Kiely, I Maguire; J O’Rourke, C Dorman, M Collins; C O’Neill, B Hurley, P Kerrigan.

Subs: P Kelleher for Hurley (h.t.), R Deane for Kiely (h.t.), S White for Deane (b/c 43), S Powter for Dorman (48), D O’Connor for O’Neill (54), D Goulding for O’Rourke (62).

Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon)

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