Centre cannot hold as Tipp crush Rebels
Supremacy over an out-of-touch Cork runs throughout entire All-Ireland SHC semi-final contest
Tipperary’s Lar Corbett (left) reaches for the ball as Lorcán McLoughlin of Cork tries to challenge. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
The domination ran through the entire match even if there was a little worry at half-time that they weren’t as far in front as they should have been. But they came out in the second half and the pattern continued.
Cork’s first effort after half-time was wide and their touch, non-existent from the start, continued to be hopeless.
The ball fell out of their hands; when they tried to hand pass they missed; and just couldn’t get the ball under control. Everything was hard work for them and with a long succession of wides in the first half they seemed to lose their way very early on and Tipperary just grew in confidence.
Their touch was excellent and they used the ball way better. When they really started to move with Séamie Callanan’s second goal – which was coming because the Cork defence was only barely keeping their finger in the dam – which was a beautiful score, that was the end of it.
More damagingly, Cork seemed to lose total heart after that.
Tipperary thrived throughout the team. The puck-outs of Darren Gleeson in goal were, from the start, outstanding and set a tone. He was finding his players, their touch was good, and they were moving the ball on.
Cork, on the other hand, were conceding way too much space to the Tipp half-back line for those puck-outs.
Before the match my view was with midfield vital in nearly all matches in this championship, Cork’s pairing had the form. They’d got the better of Limerick in the Munster final and Limerick had had the better of Tipp so the form line.
performed As it turned out it was Tipperary’s midfield that totally out
performed their opponents. Shane McGrath and James Woodlock were excellent, both of them popping up to score three points, and nowadays when you win the middle of the field you win the match.
Aidan Walsh was replaced and while Daniel Kearney was busy, his touch in common with his team-mates was poor and any time he shot he was invariably under pressure from Tipperary players and had virtually no impact.
Tipp’s half backs were absolutely superb, particularly Paudie Maher and Brendan Maher, and Cork’s half forwards, very impressive in Munster, came adrift. Séamus Harnedy was taken off; Conor Lehane hit a couple of nice points but was always marginal; and Bill Cooper struggled with his game throughout, culminating in his completely mis- hitting a pass that should have set up a goal for Harnedy but got intercepted.
You can’t hope to come into an All-Ireland semi-final with your game in such a bad way.
Maybe something will be made of the five-week break since the Munster final but I don’t believe that can credibly explain how poorly Cork played and I doubt if Jimmy Barry-Murphy or his management will use that as an excuse.
Atrocious shootingIt was a totally different Cork team to the one that won the Munster final. From the word go their shooting was atrocious – I’ve never seen Patrick Horgan struggle so badly on frees and goalkeeper Anthony Nash was their most reliable marksman – and they took the wrong option, going for scores when they shouldn’t have and not shooting when they maybe should have done.
But you have to give credit to the Tipperary defence. They put incredible pressure on from the start. I questioned the decision not to start Michael Cahill but Paddy Stapleton, Cathal Barrett and James Barry were outstanding. The corner backs were nippy and Alan Cadogan had to be taken off and the threat from Cork never materialised.
In the areas where Cork looked to have improved from last year they struggled. As well as Cadogan, Aidan Walsh, who had looked midfield All Star material in Munster, was replaced. At one stage despite having 20m of an advantage when starting his swing, Damien Cahalane got blocked by John O’Dwyer who then scored. Of the newcomers only Mark Ellis at centre back emerged with credit.
Set standards in defenceTipperary set the standards in defence and up front we know they are capable of scoring goals. Bonner Maher won the hard ball and created the chances. John O’Dwyer’s and Callanan’s skills were way ahead of anything Cork could produce, as evidenced by the two goals.
Tipp have improved with every game and although the level of competition wasn’t greatly impressive, they dealt with Cork here as easily as they dealt with any of the teams they’ve played since losing to Limerick.
Barry did well at full back; Pádraic Maher had that outstanding contribution when released out the field, powerful and irresistible under the dropping ball, and Shane McGrath has at last rediscovered his best form.
They go into the final with smiles on their faces and scores to settle with Kilkenny. More importantly they’re now on an upward swing and extremely dangerous.