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McGrath point caps an epic Tipperary fightback in Cork

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Conor O'Brien, Tipperary, in action against Bill Cooper, Cork

Conor O'Brien, Tipperary, in action against Bill Cooper, Cork

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Paddy Stapleton, Tipperary, in action against Luke O'Farrell, Cork

Paddy Stapleton, Tipperary, in action against Luke O'Farrell, Cork

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Noel McGrath, Tipperary, shoots to score his side's winning point

Noel McGrath, Tipperary, shoots to score his side's winning point

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Conor O'Brien, Tipperary, in action against Bill Cooper, Cork

Right at the death Cork had a chance to steal back a game they had been the rightful owners of for most of the afternoon at Pairc Ui Rinn.

It was deep into injury time and Patrick Horgan, who already had two goals to his name from a breathless half of hurling, fed substitute Andy Walsh in front of goal.

Walsh (below) hesitated for the slightest moment and was gobbled up by a horde of Tipperary defenders. The ball was cleared and Barry Kelly brought the curtain down on a thrilling second period.

There was only league placings at stake here but this was a most nourishing win for Tipperary who were 12 points down entering the final 15 minutes.

Cork were rampant at that stage with all the little breaks going their way. Their third goal from Paudie O'Sullivan was a gift from above as the Cloyne man gleefully goaled after a Seamus Harnedy hit the post with a point attempt. A minute later, Patrick Horgan momentarily lost possession but the bounce was kind. His ground stroke put the home side 4-19 to 0-19 up with 15 minutes to play and that, we thought, was that.

Tipp were bloodied but gradually built momentum. When Kieran Bergin took a pass from Seamus Callanan to score a goal, it looked like it would do little more than take the bad look off the scoreline for the visitors.

Callanan was a central figure now, though, and he added two more scores but it seemed like Cork were doing enough to keep the threat under wraps.

Even when Jason Forde goaled just shy of the hour mark, it left a five-point gap and it still felt like Cork would quell the revival. But Callanan then popped over a couple of frees before Noel McGrath took charge.

He hit two on the bounce with a monster free from deep inside his own to close the gap to the minimum. Sub Conor Kenny pointed from a tight angle to level things up before Tipp kept their head to work a winner.

James Woodlock made a notable impact when introduced and his clever cross field pass found Callanan who in turn found McGrath lurking in a small pocket of space.

The Loughmore-Castleiney man pointed to put Tipp in the lead for the first time since Forde had grabbed the game's opening score after less than a minute's play.

There might have been another twist when the Rebels worked that late opening for Walsh but it wasn't to be. And maybe that was what Tipp deserved after their heroics in the final quarter.

Tipperary manager Eamonn O'Shea was cautious in his post match interview but heaped praise on his players.

"We've been through a far bit over the last 18 months or so," O'Shea said. "I thought the team responded well, I was happy with the response. The subs made a difference," he said, "but I think the mental resolve of the team had not buckled even though we were down by 12. The resolve of the team is strong - even if we hadn't managed to have won the game I'd have been happy.

"They're an experienced team, so you'd expect them to be able to do some of that. It was an interesting game because Cork were buzzing for various parts of it and they can take something from it."

Cork had the better of the first half as they took a 0-15 to 0-13 lead in at the break.

At that stage, the game was an open affair, without the zeal you might expect when these two meet. Horgan was in his usual unerring form from placed balls while Seamus Harnedy and Alan Cadogan also made bright starts to the game. However, it was Tipp that looked most likely to goal and they were denied when Anthony Nash pulled off a superb save from Brendan Maher who was through on goal.

With the game rolling towards the break, Cork held a five point lead but Tipp finished strongly to reel off the last three scores of the half through Forde and Callanan (twice).

That set the scene for a dizzying second half that left Jimmy Barry Murphy struggling for answers. "It's very disappointing to lose like that in front of our home supporters, I'm disappointed from that point of view," he said.

"It shows what a learning curve it is for us to get back to where Tipperary are...when they turned on the style like that in the last few minutes we just didn't handle it very well."

Man of the match: Noel McGrath (Tipperary)

SCORERS - Cork: P Horgan 2-8 (6f), S Harnedy 0-5, C Lehane 1-1, P O'Sullivan 1-0, C Murphy, D Kearney 0-2 each, A Walsh, R O'Shea, A Cadogan 0-1 each Tipperary: S Callanan 0-10 (5f), N McGrath 0-7 (1f), J Forde 1-4, N O'Meara 0-3, K Bergin 1-0, J O'Dwyer, R Maher, C Kenny, T Stapleton 0-1 each.

CORK - A Nash 8; S O'Neill 8, S McDonnell 7, D Cahalane 7; L McLoughlin 7, M Ellis 7, C Murphy 8; D Kearney 7, Aidan Walsh 6; C Lehane 8, S Harnedy 8, R O'Shea 6; A Cadogan 7, L O'Farrell 6, P Horgan 8 SUBS: P O'Sullivan 7 for Cadogan (h-t), C O'Sullivan 6 for Ellis (50), B Cooper 6 for O'Farrell (53), Andy Walsh for R O'Shea (60), S Moylan for Kearney (66).

TIPPERARY- D Egan 6; P Stapleton 7, C O'Mahony 7, C O'Brien 6; R Maher 7, Paudie Maher 8, K Bergin 8; S McGrath 7, T Stapleton 7; N McGrath 9, B Maher 6, J Forde 8; J O'Dwyer 7, S Callanan 9, N O'Meara 7 SUBS: Patrick Maher 6 for B Maher (32), M Breen 6 for S McGrath, S Bourke 6 for O'Dwyer (both h-t), J Woodlock 8 for T Stapleton (56), C Kenny for O'Meara (62).

REF - B Kelly (Westmeath)

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