Tipperary see off Cork in high-scoring drama
Winners’ shaky case for the defence doesn’t stop them getting quarter-final verdict
Tipperary’s John O’Dwyer scores his side’s third goal past goalkeeper Anthony Nash of Cork at Semple Stadium. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
Tipperary manager Eamon O’Shea counselled with professorial caution that it’s hard to make worthwhile forecasts on the basis of insufficient data.
But he was clearly pleased with yesterday’s outcome in Semple Stadium in front of a relatively small crowd of 6,615 where after a blizzard of scoring statistics, Tipperary emerged three-point winners from a whirlwind Allianz Hurling League quarter-final.
It may have had the general appearance of an exhibition match but Tipp have been involved in a couple of those this season without coming out on the right side of the final score line. Once again there was nothing wrong with the scoring details: Séamus Callanan had four from play out of a total of eight and John O’Dwyer rampaged his way to 1-7 from play.
But on the debit side they were again accommodating in defence. Last week’s shut-out against Dublin aside, they have conceded 16 goals in four of the last five matches. No wonder O’Shea replied when asked what lessons had been learned:
“We have to defend better! Stop goals going in and keep our consistency. We weren’t consistent; we were up and down. There were lots of lessons, so many lessons we’ll be learning for the next three weeks but it’s nice to have something to aim for over the coming weeks and that’s the main thing. It keeps everybody engaged but we’re just happy to be here, in the last four.”
This was however a deserved victory and one that Tipp had to fashion twice – and nearly three times had Anthony Nash’s last-play free not been blocked in the goalmouth by his opposite number, Darragh Egan.
A high-tempo opening fired Tipperary 10 points ahead within eight minutes. In the first, Denis Maher slipped around a ruck of defenders on the end-line to score the first goal and having filled out the total with three points, they came again in the seventh minute after James Woodlock’s surging solo ended in a mishit, which bounced up for Niall O’Meara to whip into the net.
The winners were playing sharper and faster hurling, rotating one man up front, generally Séamus Callanan, and using the space effectively. Cork after a moderate campaign in Division One B, which none the less culminated in promotion, looked a bit bewildered by the force of it all.
“Yeah, there is a gap between One A and One B,” said their selector Seán McGrath, “and our poor start was probably down to that, the intensity, the speed they were playing at, the movement. We definitely struggled with that at the start.
“But it was the lads standing up themselves, they were the ones who did it, there was nothing major done on the line. They knuckled down.”
This they did to dramatic effect, following the concession of 2-4 in eight minutes with 2-3 of their own within five. Paul Haughney’s long clearance found Séamus Harnedy at full forward. He plucked it down expertly and placed the ball artfully into the far corner of the net.
Two minutes later, the 15th, he was on hand to repeat the dose after Conor Lehane had slipped him in on goal.
From then on, it was like a boxing match with shots being traded blow for blow and when it looked as if Tipp had reasserted themselves after O’Dwyer finished to the net, a move set up by Denis Maher for a 3-9 to 2-8 lead, Cork stormed back within minutes.