Cork expose Tipp failings in ruthless fashion


MUNSTER SHC FIRST ROUND/Cork 3-15 Tipperary 0-14:IT’S QUITE possible in the course of the county’s 85 years up to 2008 without a win in Cork, more fancied Tipperary teams than the current one came unstuck in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in front of 36,827 fans, but unlikely that any managed a more abject failure to live up to their billing than the now deposed provincial champions.

Cork ruthlessly exposed the poor display and when they had finished putting their best of the season to date the margin was 10 points, the county’s biggest win over their oldest rivals in 68 years.

They now move on to the semi-final of the Munster championship where they will face a shadow Limerick outfit and must be in with every chance of winning a first provincial title in four years – an utterly unexpected outcome when the teams lined up late to facilitate TV coverage of extra time in the Ulster championship.

Yet the stark realisation the game was up didn’t full set in until the third quarter. Despite a troubled first half Tipperary had hung on and were not uncomfortably poised at 0-9 to 2-5 going in at the break. Although Eoin Kelly cut the deficit to the minimum within a minute of the restart, a run of five points opened up a six-point gap and Tipp’s game disintegrated.

In control all around the field Cork punched their biggest hole in Tipperary’s defence and more especially their opponents’ composure by the success of the early ball into Aisake Ó hAilpín. Ó hAilpín has had an arduous time of it in trying to ally his aerial prowess to the finer technical needs of the game but yesterday he made his presence tell, scoring a goal, being fouled for a converted penalty and setting up Patrick Horgan for the other. There had been a premonition of this in league match in April when the full forward caused difficulty for Pádraic Maher.

The process was repeated yesterday and although Maher was switched to wing back with Paul Curran moving in on Ó hAilpín, the attempt to limit the damage was unavailing, as Cork succeeded in isolating their full forward on the edge of the square and supplying him with an abundance of dropping ball. BP have had more success in the Gulf of Mexico.

Nor was the uncertain display of Ó hAilpín the only doubt surrounding Cork. The iconic half-back line of John Gardiner, Ronan Curran and Seán Ó hAilpín hadn’t been firing on all cylinders during the league with only Gardiner in top form. Yesterday they delivered with a bang. Gardiner maintained his dominant presence, able to ghost free of John O’Brien and make himself available for short puck-outs and drive ball down the field towards the all-acquisitive hand of the full forward.

At the other end Brian O’Meara, the rookie full forward pulled out of the hat by Liam Sheedy, started well, showed for the ball and won a couple early on but was quickly subdued by the force of a superb performance by Eoin Cadogan, just back from injury, as well as the gradual death of anything like a regular supply.

Yet in the first 10 minutes Tipp led by 0-3 to 0-1 and looked comfortable. Then Aisake intervened. Fouled for Cork’s second point in the 11th minute, he plucked down one of Gardiner’s missiles and was in the act of putting the ball in the net when fouled by Maher, who was yellow carded. Patrick Horgan drilled the ball into the net for Cork to hit the front 1-2 to 0-3, a lead they never lost.

Another line that caused immense hardship for the champions was the Cork half forwards. Jerry O’Connor at centre forward had his best performance in a while and beside him Niall McCarthy did likewise and Ben O’Connor ran tirelessly, at one stage hunting down Shane McGrath on a characteristic solo run near the half-hour mark.

By that stage Horgan had scored a second, ramming home a loose ball he picked up after Aisake Ó hAilpin had smuggled it through. In the circumstances a 0-9 to 2-5 half-time deficit wasn’t bad value for Tipperary.

Yet they were unable to recover despite ample room for improvement with a centrefield being out-run by Cathal Naughton and out-directed by Tom Kenny. Noel McGrath had the most anonymous championship outing of his fledgling career and all around the field his team-mates were just failing to cope with Cork pressure.

A 45th-minute point scored by Ben O’Connor showcased the precision and speed at which Cork were operating, as they shuttled the ball in short strokes up the right wing, creating an overlap for the wing forward to score. Aisake scored a point and in the 60th minute took a quick delivery from the breaking Jerry O’Connor and rumbled past Brendan Cummins to scoop in the goal that deservedly capped his day.

Eoin Kelly tried for a consolation goal only to find Cusack too alert although he converted the ensuing 65. Too little, too late would be too kind a summary of the champions’ fall from grace.

CORK: 1. D Cusack; 2. S O’Neill, 3. E Cadogan, 4. B Murphy; 5. J Gardiner (0-2, free and 65), 6. R Curran, 7. S Óg Ó hAilpín; 8. T Kenny, 9. C Naughton (0-2); 10. B O’Connor (0-5, three frees), 11, J O’Connor, 12. N McCarthy (0-2); 13. K Murphy, 14. A Ó hAilpín (1-1), 15. P Horgan (2-2, one penalty). Subs: 23. M Cussen for McCarthy (62 mins), 24. P O’Sullivan (0-1) for Horgan (65 mins), 22. L McLoughlin for Kenny (72 mins).

Yellow cards: R Curran (31 mins), E Cadogan (45 mins), M Cussen (64 mins).

TIPPERARY: 1. B Cummins; 2. P Stapleton, 3. P Maher, 4. P Curran; 5. D Fanning, 6. C O’Mahony, 7. M Cahill; 8. B Maher (0-1), 9. S McGrath; 10. N McGrath, 11. S Callinan (0-1), 12. J O’Brien (0-2); 13. E Kelly (0-7, four frees, two 65s), 14. B O’Meara, 15. L Corbett (0-2). Subs: 22. S Hennessy for O’Meara (43 mins), 28. G Ryan for O’Mahony (57 mins), 20. T Hammersley (0-1) for McGrath (62 mins), 17. J Brennan for O’Brien (66 mins), 27. C O’Brien for S McGrath (68 mins).

Yellow cards: Tipperary – P Maher (15 mins), E Kelly (33 mins), B O’Meara (39 mins), S Hennessy (74 mins).

Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath).