Forde and Breen gun down listless Rebels as Tipp come good
Tipperary 1-29 Cork 1-16
What happened on a bitterly cold, blustery afternoon at Páirc Uí Rinn in March won't count for much when this pair next meet in the Munster championship at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on May 12, but for now the satisfaction is all Tipperary's after resurrecting their League title ambitions with emphatic efficiency.
Having won only one of their previous nine competitive games and with the whole of 1A weighing down on them, Tipperary needed to reassure themselves and their supporters that, despite recent appearances, the fundamentals were solid.
Liam Sheedy took them to a training camp in Spain last week and while the immediate aftermath of such a venture is often not visible, that certainly wasn't the case here.
Once Tipperary warmed to the task, they demolished Cork, outscoring them by 1-23 to 0-6 between the 10th and 54th minutes. The 20-point differential in no way flattered the visitors who were quicker, smarter and much more intense in everything they did.
Granted, Cork were so far off the pace in that period that it wasn't really a contest, but rather more a case of a side that knew exactly what they wanted and how they were going to go about it. They were in the process of overwhelming opposition who looked as if they had met for the first time in the dressing-room just before the game.
Tipperary won the aerial and ground wars so convincingly that it was impossible to reconcile Cork's dismal effort with the driven performance that beat Limerick in their last game.
The most puzzling feature was that there were no signs early on that Cork weren't ready for the challenge. In fact, despite playing against a strong wind, they led by a point after 10 minutes before being pushed into an abyss by a Tipperary team that was obviously hurt after suffering successive defeats against Limerick, Wexford and Kilkenny.
Jason Forde and Michael Breen led the scoring blitz, returning 1-19 between them while the defence tied up all the Cork forwards except Conor Lehane.
Forde had scored 1-13 (1-4 from play) by the time he departed injured in the 58th minute while midfielder Breen picked off six points.
Tipperary led by 0-16 to 0-6 at half-time and when Forde pounced for a goal early in the second half after a mistake by Damien Cahalane, there was no way back for Cork.
"We felt if we could get a few scores early in the second half it would get us back into the game but it was Tipperary who drove on," said Meyler.
Frustration set in for Cork as it became increasingly apparent that they were heading for an embarrassment, with their load becoming heavier when Seamus Harnedy was sent off on a straight red card for a wild pull in the 55th minute.
Ironically, Cork played better with 14 men, out-scoring Tipperary by 1-7 to 0-4 from there on, the goal coming from Aidan Walsh off a delightful pass by Lehane.
Sheedy was trading in understatement afterwards, describing it as 'a good day'. It was a lot more than that, an occasion when Tipperary showed what they are capable of when they put their game together.
"There'll be tired bodies tonight because, for amateurs, the work that they've done in the last seven days is heroic. I've huge time for the way they're applying themselves and the way they're trying to get to the pitch of it because it's a very high bar. This doesn't get us into the top six or do anything for us in the championship, but as I said it is a good day at the office," said Sheedy.
It takes Tipp into a League quarter-final clash with Dublin, with Limerick awaiting the winners.
Sheedy marked his debut season in his first term by winning the League title in 2008, a target which is now back in sight.
Such are the narrow margins in this League. With home advantage, the odds favoured Cork advancing to the knockout stages but instead their League title drought now extends to a 21st season. And while they won't be facing a relegation play-off because of the new Division 1 structure that applies next year, they still have to play Kilkenny to decide which group the pair will enter in 2020.
It's irrelevant really, but at least it gives both teams another game before heading for championship training.
Tipperary could have three more League games, something Sheedy would welcome as he searches for the best combinations. So how close is he to settling on his best team?
"When the day goes well, you think: 'that's it, we have our team' and when the day goes badly it's 'scrap them all and bring in another 15!'.
"That's the nature of the game. We're just delighted with the performance, we'll move on now and tackle the quarter-final," he said.
Scorers - Tipperary: J Forde 1-13 (8f, 1'65), M Breen 0-6, S Callanan 0-3 (1f), N O'Meara, J Morris 0-2 each, John O'Dwyer, N McGrath, J McGrath 0-1 each. Cork: P Horgan 0-6 (4f ,1 '65), C Lehane 0-4, A Walsh 1-0, A Cadogan, S Kingston, M Coleman, L Meade, B Cooper, R O'Flynn 0-1 each.
Tipperary - P Maher 7; C Barrett, 7 J Barry 7, Joe O'Dwyer 7, R Maher 7, Padraic Maher 8, R Byrne 6; N McGrath 7, M Breen 9; J McGrath 7, S Callanan 7, N O'Meara 7; John O'Dwyer 6, J Forde 9, J Morris 6. Subs: Patrick Maher 7 for Forde (58), A Flynn 6 for Joe O'Dwyer (60), B Heffernan for O'Meara (64), M Kehoe for Callanan ( 68).
Cork - A Nash 7; D Browne 5, D Cahalane 5, S McDonnell 5; C Joyce 6, T O'Mahony 5, E Cadogan 5; C Murphy 5, B Cooper 7; D Dooley 5, S Harnedy 4, A Walsh 6; P Horgan 6, C Lehane 8, A Cadogan 7. Subs: S Kingston 7 for A Cadogan (33), L Meade 6 for Dooley (ht), M Coleman 7 for E Cadogan (ht), R O'Flynn 6 for Murphy (58), J O'Connor for Walsh (72).
Ref - S Cleere (Kilkenny)