Thursday 26 April 2018

Tipp crush Rebels to set up All-Ireland date with Kilkenny

Tipperary 2-18 Cork 1-11

Cork's Patrick Horgan in action against Cathal Barrett of Tipperary in the Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final
Cork's Patrick Horgan in action against Cathal Barrett of Tipperary in the Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final

An awesome display from Tipperary saw the Premier County defeat Munster rivals Cork with 10 points to spare and they will renew rivalries with Kilkenny next month in the All-Ireland Final.

While most observers predicted a close encounter, Eamon O'Shea's side simply blew away the Rebel challenge after the interval with two spectacular goals from Seamus Callanan setting Tipp on their way to the decider next month.

The five-week break seemed to Cork few favours and were struggling from the outset in the first ever championship meeting of the two sides at Croke Park, though were just two points adrift at the interval.

That was as good as it got for Jimmy Barry-Murphy's side as Tipperary simply overpowered their neighbours 1-11 to 1-03 after the break.

It was Cork who made the brighter start when Alan Cadogan opened the scoring with a little more than 30 seconds on the clock to continue his fine form of the 2014 campaign, before a five minute period where both teams seemed to be getting the nerves out of the system.

It took five minutes for the next score, but Tipperary's danger man on the edge of the square Seamus Callanan made it worth the wait.

Tipp midfielder Shane McGrath picked the ball up on the sideline and hot a ball in front of the Cork goals when full-back Shane O'Neill missed the ball. Callanan showed composure and no lack of skill to unleash a rasping shot to the roof of the net which left Anthony Nash with no chance.

Eamon O'Shea's charges were beginning to get on top all over the pitch with James Woodlock and John O'Dwyer putting daylight between the sides before Aidan Walsh got Cork's second point of the game after 10 minutes after a surging run through the middle.

Tipp clearly targeted Callanan up front and he added another point before Seamus Harnedy scored with almost his first touch of the game. Conor Lehane gained possession in the half-forward line and found Harnedy in a better position in the middle of the pitch and the St. Ita's man made no mistake.

A couple of inspirational frees from Anthony Nash demonstrated his prowess from distance, though Cork were guilty of poor shooting as they attempted to reduce the deficit, finishing the half with nine wides, more than double that their opponents.

The Premier County too coughed up a chance to extend their lead when Patrick 'Bonner' Maher bore down on goals with a typically direct run through the middle, but his tame effort was easily collected by Nash when the goal looked on.

O'Dwyer claimed a third score from play after Damien Cahalane was blocked down in possession, but while Cork were second best for long stages of the opening half and were not as efficient as normal in front of the posts, they trailed by just two points with Lehane and Horgan (free) claiming the last two scores of the half.

Tipperary nearly made the ideal start to the start of the second half when Lar Corbett was slipped through while in full flow, but the ball broke down, eventually gathered in midfield by Shane McGrath who fired over an excellent score to restore their three-point advantage.

The Tipperary midfield was in the ascendancy, despite the pre-match talk of Cork's strength in this sector of the pitch, with his fellow midfielder Woodlock also adding to his collection for the day.

Callanan didn't have to wait long for his second goal of the match and again it was a real touch of class from the full-forward.

Bonner Maher, just after receiving a booking for a challenge on Daniel Kearney was again central to the action and was more prominent following the management decision to move him closer to goals. His darting run opened up the Rebel defence and he popped the ball to Callanan who let fly from  outside the 21 to restore their healthy lead over the Munster champions.

By the time Lehane managed Cork's second point after the interval on the 51st minute, the gap was eight points.

Not just finishing moves, Callanan also turned provider for O'Dwyer who was tormenting the Cork half-back line with his movement and accuracy.

A clear demonstration of Cork's struggles to gain possession was the sight of Aidan Walsh leaving the pitch with 15 minutes remaining in the contest. At that stage, Woodlock and McGrath had managed three points each.

Rob O'Shea raised a green flag for the Rebels late on to put a gloss on the scoreline, but it was to be Tipperary's day.

They will now march on to another final date with Kilkenny, with Cats manager Brian Cody in Croke Park to witness the impressive performance from Tipp.

It promises to be yet another intriguing encounter between the two great rivals.

For the best expert analysis and reaction to all the weekend's GAA action pick up tomorrow's Irish Independent

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