Cork's pain converted into paean
Camogie All-Ireland final/ Cork 1-17 Tipperary 1-13: Boy, do Cork teams know how to close out games. In the last five minutes of yesterday's camogie final the 14,350 people present witnessed the definition of digging deep. It was a lesson in how to let the pain of defeat, in the last two deciders, all hang out - and avenge it.
Before those gripping final exchanges, the Cork obituary was being penned, with a goalkeeping error top of the list of possible causes. But that is now merely a footnote as they denied their greatest rivals the three-in-a-row, while collecting their 21st title.
The three years since their previous title represented a drought in camogie circles Leeside, and it showed with the outpouring of emotion at the full-time whistle.
Let us start at the end. Corner back Amanda O'Regan threw her team a lifeline eight minutes from time when her speculative 45 found its way into the Tipperary goal. Of all people, Una O'Dwyer was to blame as the shot bounced off her palm past a helpless Jovita Delaney in goal. It was a freak episode but not the first to occur down the Hill 16 end.
Tipperary had been living off a 27th-minute goal from Claire Grogan after a similar free from distance went through the legs of goalkeeper Aoife Murray, after confusion with full back Rosarie Holland.
Essentially, those farcical goals cancelled each other out.
The Cork goal did, however, edge them clear by a point at a vital time. Tipperary captain Deirdre Hughes levelled matters soon after before Grogan thumped over her fourth free of the day.
Cork's reply was in direct contrast to the previous two years. They came back downfield aggressively with Emer Dillon firing two long range points, followed by another from Angela Walsh in the space of 90 seconds. The Tipperary half-back line, minus Ciara Gaynor, who had been replaced moments earlier, capitulated.
Briege Corkery, who along with Mary O'Connor, Rena Buckley and Angela Walsh is now seeking the double against Galway in the football final, had been flying up the wing all afternoon, and added a breathtaking score.
Tipperary looked out on their feet even before Jennifer O'Leary confirmed the result with a free in injury time.
It was in contrast to the manner in which Tipperary had begun their quest for a sixth title in seven years. Jill Horan opened their account and despite a Cork rally, Philly Fogarty's marvellous point, in a game of marvellous points, extended the lead to 0-5 to 0-2.
Grogan took over thereafter with 1-2 but Cork held in there with sporadic scores from Dillon, O'Leary and Elaine Burke. Still, Horan and Noelle Kennedy drove the Tipp dominance to the break, where they sat on a 1-10 to 0-8 lead.
Whatever Cork manager John Cronin or trainer Fiona O'Driscoll said in the caves under the Hogan Stand proved highly effective as they exploded out for the last 30 minutes of the season. Dillon pointed before Gemma O'Connor found her range with a brace.
The intensity stalled for a while as the scoreboard remained untroubled for 12 minutes, until O'Leary ended a run of four Cork wides.
Cronin then made the brave decision of calling captain Elaine Burke ashore for Walsh. It turned out to be an inspirational move as the 20-year-old was heavily involved in the late blitz.
The Cork goal followed and although it levelled matters in the karma stakes it was harsh on a Tipperary full-back line that had been handling intense bombardment in an assured manner.
Most of this Tipperary team have been on the road even before the breakthrough in 1999 so as another age of Cork camogie begins maybe yesterday we witnessed the end of an era.
CORK: A Murray; R Buckley, R Holland, A O'Regan (1-0, free); B Corkery (0-1), M O'Connor, A Geary; V Harris, R Moloney (0-1); U O'Donoghue (0-1), G O'Connor (0-3, one free), J O'Leary (0-4, two frees); E Dillon (0-4), S Dunlea (0-1), E Burke (capt, 0-1). Subs: J O'Callaghan for V Harris (half-time); S Donovan for E Burke (50 mins); A Walsh (0-1) for U O'Donoghue (54 mins).
TIPPERARY: J Delaney; S Kelly, U O'Dwyer, J Kirwan; S Nealon, C Gaynor, T Brophy; P Fogarty (0-1), A McDermott; J Ryan (0-1), N Kennedy (0-1), C Grogan (1-5, 0-4 frees); E McDonnell (0-2), D Hughes (0-1), J Horan (0-2). Subs: E Hayden for N Kennedy (36 mins); M Shortt for C Gaynor (54 mins).
Referee: J Pender (Kildare).