Lehane and Coughlan run riot as Cork power through to decider
CORK kept their inter-county hurling season alive by scoring a fully-merited seven-point victory against last year's Munster and All-Ireland U-21 champions Tipperary at Semple Stadium last night.
The Rebels booked a place in the Munster final against Clare on August 3 with a first victory over Tipp at this grade since 2007.
And it was teen sensations Jamie Coughlan and Conor Lehane who led the charge with sensational individual displays.
Lehane top-scored with 1-4; dual star Aidan Walsh, senior ace Luke O'Farrell and Dean Brosnan scored the other goals on a memorable night for Ger Fitzgerald's charges.
Ultimately, it was goals that separated the two sides in a thrilling encounter, played out in front of 4,629 spectators in Thurles, which was level five times before the visitors pulled clear.
And it was Walsh's 46th-minute goal which gave Cork, who scored 4-16 from play, the breathing space they needed after the sides had been level at 3-12 to 1-18.
Cork, awarded just five frees in the game by referee Michael Wadding, dominated the closing stages and in the final quarter of an hour, the Leesiders outscored their opponents by 1-7 to 0-3.
Tipp had no response and in the final minutes, Coughlan and Lehane, who bagged 1-9 between them, showed just why there are such high hopes for this pair.
Centre-forward Lehane, who sat his Leaving Certificate this year, made his senior debut for Cork against Galway in last weekend's qualifiers and is an undoubted future star.
O'Farrell showed real leadership too at corner-forward, while captain William Egan drove the team forward from centre-back.
The sides shared 25 scores in the opening half, with Tipperary doing well to claw back an early nine-point deficit to trail by just a single point at half-time, 1-12 to 2-10.
Cork, 9/5 pre-match outsiders, got off to a superb start and roared 1-7 to 0-1 clear within nine minutes. The goal, in the fifth minute, was brilliantly finished by O'Farrell but corner-back Christopher Joyce can take a huge chunk of credit.
It was the Na Piarsaigh man's block-down on Tipp's leading scorer John O'Dwyer deep in Cork territory which eventually led to O'Farrell's goal, rapped home after Michael O'Sullivan's mishit.
All Star footballer Walsh, Seamus O'Farrell, Dean Brosnan and Luke O'Farrell added scores but Tipp replied and landed 1-5 without reply between the ninth and 15th minutes.
Fourteen minutes had elapsed before Tipp registered their first point of the game from play but the floodgates quickly opened and the goal, scored by senior panellist Brian O'Meara a minute later, was another fine strike.
O'Meara, who looked suspiciously in the square from a long Kieran Morris ball, picked up the break and cracked a rising shot past Darren McCarthy.
Brosnan hit back with a Cork point but Tipp responded with scores from John O'Neill and Sean Curran to draw level with the visitors -- 1-8 apiece.
The next score of the game was Cork's second goal and once again, it was a brilliantly taken effort as Brosnan took a pass from Coughlan before drilling a low shot into the bottom corner.
And by the 26th minute, all six of Cork's starting forwards had registered scores from play, with Tipp finishing the half with five of their six forwards on the mark.
The sides were level early in the second half before Lehane struck for a 38th-minute goal, getting the final touch to help the sliotar over the line in a crowded goalmouth.
From there, Cork pulled away.
Scorers -- Cork: C Lehane 1-4, L O'Farrell 1-3, D Brosnan 1-2, A Walsh 1-1, J Coughlan 0-5 (2f), M O'Sullivan 0-2, W Egan (f) & S O'Farrell 0-1 each. Tipperary: J O'Dwyer 0-11 (10f), B O'Meara 1-1, N McGrath 0-3f, A Ryan, S Curran 0-2 each, K Morris, J O'Neill 0-1 each.
CORK -- D McCarthy; C Joyce, E Finn, S Corry; J Nagle, W Egan, M Ellis; S O'Farrell, D Roche; D Brosnan, C Lehane, A Walsh; L O'Farrell, M O'Sullivan, J Coughlan. Subs: D Drake for Roche (h-t), D Cahalane for Finn (42), E O'Sullivan for S O'Farrell (58).
TIPPERARY -- P Ryan; C Hough, K O'Gorman, S O'Brien; J Barry, N McGrath, P Heffernan; B Stapleton, A Ryan; J O'Neill, S Curran, P Murphy; J O'Dwyer, B O'Meara, K Morris. Subs: J Gallagher for Barry (25), S Maher for O'Brien (h-t), M Sheedy for Morris (50), W Maher for Murphy (54).
Ref -- M Wadding (Waterford).