Dunne goal ends Cork resistance
Rebels run out of steam as Tipp ease to victory
Tipperary 3-22 Cork 0-23
SCEPTICS who claim that the second-chance system robs the provincial championships of their glamour and intensity will be keen to destroy the convincing book of evidence to the contrary compiled in Thurles yesterday.
Page after page provides a compelling case for the integrity of the Munster hurling championship, which was launched in spectacular style by the reigning All-Ireland champions and opponents who went into this quarter-final against an uncertain background.
Tipperary emerged with the momentum generated throughout last year's ascent to the All-Ireland throne increased, while Cork were sufficiently convincing to suggest that the remainder of their season will carry more positives than negatives.
The eight-point winning margin flatters Tipperary who were clinging on to a two-point lead after 64 minutes before out-scoring their deflated rivals by 1-4 to 0-1 on the run-in. The 65th minute tie-breaker arrived in unfortunate circumstances for Cork as full-back Eoin Cadogan seemed poised to get in a relieving clearance before being hunted down and robbed by Patrick Maher.
He fed sub Benny Dunne, who beat Donal Og Cusack from close in to put Tipperary five points clear and safely on their way to a semi-final clash with Clare. Having worked so hard to battle their way back from what looked like a hopeless position before and after half-time, Cork had no more to give.
Still, they will be encouraged by the determined manner in which they took up the big challenge after Tipperary made what looked like match-winning surges on four separate occasions. Goals by Lar Corbett and Eoin Kelly in the 27th and 31st minutes respectively put Tipperary eight points clear (2-9 to 0-7) before Cork countered with three points.
They were seven points adrift at half-time (2-11 to 0-10), eight behind after 40 minutes and seven shy after 46 minutes before generating a power surge which blew several Tipperary fuses. Brian Murphy, Pa Cronin, Ben O'Connor, Niall McCarthy, Paudie O'Sullivan, Patrick Horgan, plus subs Tom Kenny and Jamie Nagle led the Cork charge and, for a period, Tipperary looked severely rattled.
Some of Cork's points were spectacular long range efforts and with Horgan -- who scored 0-13 -- punishing defensive indiscipline it looked as if the outsiders were set to repeat last year's win when they cruised alongside Tipperary (0-21 to 2-15) after 56 minutes.
It was at that stage that the hard-nosed experience gained by Tipperary in their exciting march to All-Ireland glory kicked in. Corbett, Kelly and Noel McGrath all pointed in the space of three minutes, but Horgan's 12th point in the 63rd minute left Cork nicely poised.
However, Dunne's goal broke their resistance and finalised a deal which takes Tipperary on to the championship's open roads, whereas Cork have to negotiate the tricky qualifier bends.
Still, they will do so with a largely upbeat mindset after pushing Tipperary to the limit before being outgunned late on.
That's encouraging, but they will also feel that had they been a little more secure in the final 10 minutes of the first half, their second-half upswing would have placed a large deposit in the scoring bank rather than have it all eaten up by debts.
Cork led 0-7 to 0-6 after 25 minutes, but leaked 2-5 between then and half-time, leaving them with a huge challenge from there on. They took on it on bravely, but ultimately they just couldn't resist Tipperary's confidence-fuelled power.
Declan Ryan will be especially pleased with the attack. All six had scored after 33 minutes and, apart from a fallow period in the second half when Cork's renewed momentum enabled them to dominate possession, the productivity continued.
Seamus Callanan, Kelly and Corbett scored 2-9 between them from open play; McGrath landed four points, two of which were delightfully executed side line cuts, while John O'Brien turned in a solid display. However, none was more efficient that Patrick Maher, even if he did manage just one point.
His main contribution came in the of ball-winning, power-running and link-ups which were crucial to two of Tipperary's goals and to several points too.
Padraic Maher was Tipperary's best defender, but Paul Curran, newcomer John O'Keeffe and sub Conor O'Mahony also gave resolute performances, while goalkeeper Brendan Cummins suggested he will be ultra-reliable again as Tipperary pursue their first All-Ireland two-in-a-row since 1965.
He made a great save from Paudie O'Sullivan in the second minute and continued to be a commanding figure. His job was made much easier in the second half by Cork's costly practice of dropping balls short into space in front of the Tipperary goal.
With Cork's full-forward line playing further out, it left Cummins with precious seconds to gather possession and deliver long, accurate clearances.
It was one of Cork's biggest failings while they also struggled at times with their shooting, hitting 10 wides to Tipperary's five.
For all that, they will feel that had they been a little more secure late in the first half and avoided the error which gifted Tipperary their third goal, they might well have won.
Tipperary will know that too. They will be pleased with a 3-22 return, less so with the concession of 23 scores. They lost out in the midfield battle when Lorcan McLoughlin, the very impressive Pa Cronin and sub Tom Kenny had the edge on their rivals, who lost Shane McGrath to injury after 40 minutes.
Still, Tipperary regard any day they beat Cork by eight points as a satisfactory day. All the more so after being well beaten by Cork last year.
The second-half lapse, during which they conceded seven points, while scoring none, will no doubt come in for discussion in training this week but, crucially, Tipperary had the guile to regain the initiative when it mattered most on the sprint to the finish line.
The attendance of 31,231 was 5,596 down on last year.
Scorers -- Tipperary: E Kelly 1-7 (0-5f), L Corbett 1-2, S Callanan 0-5, N McGrath 0-4 (2 s-l), B Dunne 1-0, J O'Brien 0-2, Patrick Maher, J Woodlock 0-1 each. Cork: P Horgan 0-13 (10f), B O'Connor, N McCarthy 0-3 each, C McCarthy, P O'Sullivan, P Cronin, J Gardiner 0-1 each.
Tipperary -- B Cummins 8; P Stapleton 6, P Curran 7, M Cahill 7; D Young 6, Padraic Maher 8, J O'Keeffe 7; G Ryan 6, S McGrath 6; S Callanan 8, N McGrath 7, Patrick Maher 9; E Kelly 8, J O'Brien 7, L Corbett 8. Subs: J Woodlock 6 for S McGrath (40), C O'Mahony 7 for Young (59), B Dunne 7 for O'Brien (62), P Bourke for Ryan (66).
Cork -- D Og Cusack 7; S O'Neill 5, E Cadogan 6, S McDonnell 6; J Gardiner 6, W Egan 7, B Murphy 7; L McLoughlin 7, P Cronin 8; B O'Connor 7, C McCarthy 6, N McCarthy 7; L Farrell 6, P O'Sullivan 6, P Horgan 8. Subs: J O'Connor 6 for C McCarthy (45), J Nagle 7 for O'Neill (45), T Kenny 7for McLoughlin (50), C Naughton for Horgan (69), K Murphy for P O'Sullivan (69).
Ref -- B Gavin (Offaly)