Tipperary's forward play outwits Cork

Mon, Sep 22, 2003, 01:00

Camogie All-Ireland senior final: Cork 1-11 Tipperary 2-8 Tipperay may even have surprised themselves by their uplifting second-half performance which devastated champions Cork in a hectic free-flowing All-Ireland camogie senior final in front of a crowd of 16,183 thrilled spectators at Croke Park yesterday.

Tipperary's victory was based on tactics as much as flair. They had a full forward line of class that featured player-of-the-match Eimer McDonnell, Deirdre Hughes and Joanne Ryan.

Between them they scored 2-6 of the winning total but it was hardly a case of them playing as an orthodox front three. Instead, they fairly bamboozled the Cork cover by moving about to create the opportunities that kept Cork at full stretch.

Medical student McDonnell had pace, accuracy and deft touches to burn. Joanne Ryan was never content to play the ordinary role of a full forward. Instead she moved out looking for work and caused yet another puzzle for the Cork defence to solve.

Deirdre Hughes scored a goal within a minute of resumption which arguably put the game to bed.

The manner, though, in which the Cork defence started suggested that Tipperary would find it very difficult to find anything like a winning tally with Stepanie Dunlea playing an inspirational role and the unrelated half-back line of O'Connors, Paula Mary and Gemma, setting up insurmountable barriers.

But that was before Tipperary found the drive, accuracy and determination that turned the game on its head and left the earlier composed Cork girls digging deep for the answers.

Tipperary were desperately slow in getting on the scoreboard. Happily for them, however, they seemed to have packed all of their bad habits into the first quarter, during which they knocked over five wides before getting off the mark with their first point in 18 minutes, a 40-yard gem from midfielder Emily Hayden.

With Tipperary players subsequently proving that they could score more points of this calibre it was no wonder they hadn't got to depend on frees to boost their tally. In fact only one of their points was scored from the placed ball.

But the score that spurred on Tipperary was created and struck home to the Cork net by McDonnell with a few minutes remaining to half-time.

The Tipp dynamo collected towards the right at the Canal End and then proceeded to sprint forward, ball glued to her stick. Her pace was remarkable in this instance and left Joanne O'Callaghan for dead. Ger Casey had no hope of saving a brilliantly weighted and well-directed shot.

It was definitely the score of the match and it was the score above all others that injected a huge and telling degree of confidence into the Tipperary effort. "You really don't know what she is going to do next," said Tipperary manager Ramie Ryan of his star performer.

Cork's defensive strengths began to crumble. To find the best player to mark McDonnell became an urgent priority for Pa Finn and his selectors. But the Tipperary schemers up front were threatening danger from so many angles that the task for the Cork defenders became urgent. .

Cork's tenacity was never found wanting and the response to McDonnell's goal along with a Noelle Kennedy-pointed free was prompt and incisive. Fionna O'Driscoll banged over a point to reduce the deficit to one point and Rachel Moloney turned up trumps with two huge pointed frees to restore Cork's lead 0-7 to 1-3 by half-time.

Deirdre Hughes, another roamer and threat to the Cork defence, ignited the Tipperary recovery within seconds of the restart with a brilliant goal and McDonnell, a niece of Cork's Billy Morgan, tacked on a point straight from the puck-out.

It was very much downhill for Cork thereafter. Tipperary's half forwards, Philly Fogarty and Claire Grogan, typified the winner's spirit by popping up regularly in defence, a defence that had power and drive in half backs Therese Brophy, Ciara Gaynor and Sinead Nealon as well as the drive and long deliveries of Una O'Dwyer.

Tipperary had opened a two-goal lead by the time the game reached injury time. Cork's wing back Gemma O'Connor, who returned to midfield after a time on the bench, had a consolation goal at the death.

CORK: G Casey: J O'Callaghan, D Cronin, S Dunlea, P O'Connor, M O'Connor, G O'Connor (1-0), R Moloney (0-2 frees), V Harris, U O'Donoghue (0-1), E Dillon (0-2), J O'Leary (0-2), O O'Sullivan (0-1), C Harrington, F O'Driscoll (0-3 one free). Subs: C Foley for P O'Connor at half-time), B S Hayes for G O'Connor (35 mins), B Corkery for V Harris (42 mins), C Desmond for Harrington (43), G O'Connor for O O'Sullivan (55).

TIPPERARY: J Delaney, S Kelly, U O'Dwyer, C Madden, S Nealon, C Gaynor, T Brophy, E Hayden (0-2), A McDermott, N Kennedy (0-3 one free), C Grogan, P Fogarty, D Hughes(1-1), J Ryan (0-1), E McDonnell (1-4). Sub: T O'Halloran for Kennedy (56).

Referee A Derham (Dublin).