Sheedy focuses on the positives as Tipp stall Cork’s momentum

Despite posting 17 wides, Premier County battle to a share of the spoils

Tipperary 0-22 Cork 2-16

It's not unusual for one team to argue the outcome of a drawn match that bit differently to the other, and Liam Sheedy is now right up to date on both fronts.

A week after Limerick came back in the end to draw level with them, Tipperary inflicted a similar outcome on Cork, in this case in the five minutes-plus of time added on. Even then the result could have swung either way, the slightest of inaccuracies denying both teams their shot at the winner.

The old Munster derby was at times lively and rarely without some bite, only not entirely convincing as a spectacle: conditions didn’t help – at times raining on one half the pitch, while seemingly dry on the other – and still most of the flow and flamboyance took a backseat behind tactics.

Sheedy was content nonetheless, the Tipperary manager praising the attitude of his team who clawed back two late points on Cork.

“That’s probably the most pleasing aspect of our game,” he said, “I suppose the first two rounds of the league last year we lost tight games, to the same opposition, losing by a point or two, when it’s that close, you spirit should be enough to make you at least break even.

“So I’d be very happy with that aspect of our game, that we got to break even on both days, and while we didn’t manage to get over the line, at least we didn’t go under.”

That late rush of scores was climaxed by Cathal Barrett and then a magnificent long-range free from Jason Forde, which after some considerable effort brought the home team level again: he finished with 0-10, before Patrick Horgan's late chance of a winner for Cork came back off the upright.

No wonder Cork manager Kieran Kingston perceived the result a little differently.

“Mixed emotions, yeah, I suppose you’re proud of the guys, when there were periods of the game where we were playing poorly, but we stuck with it. On the other side you’re thinking maybe it’s a game we should have won coming down the stretch.”

After scoring five goals against Waterford last week, adding two more here was certainly satisfying.

“That’s something we’re trying to work on. Tipp set up here with an extra defender but still we created a few chances, got two. But it’s frustrating too, when you get two goals, don’t concede any, you feel maybe it’s a game you should win.”

The first goal came on 10 minutes, Tim O’Mahony playing a sweet one-two with Horgan, O’Mahony helping himself to the close-range finish, despite the attention of a trio of Tipp defenders.

On 44 minutes, after a rare long puck out, Horgan helped himself to their second, charging down on the Tipp goal, batting his effort him into the net past goalkeeper Barry Hogan. A Horgan free straight after gave them some daylight, part of the problem being Tipp were also winning plenty more frees.

The minimum

Besides that first goal, the teams more or less exchanged points up to half-time, drawing level four times in the process, before Tipp stole the first notable slight advantage. Six first-half frees, a second point from John McGrath and an impressive long-range score from defender Barry Heffernan helped establish a two-point lead. But Horgan’s free for Cork brought it back to the minimum at the break.

Forde’s 10 frees were telling, in part because Tipp won 22 frees in all, over twice what Cork got.

“We really worked hard to make them I suppose turn over the ball, and in fairness to the lads up front, they are trying to take on the man, trying to get inside the man, and if you do that you’ll generally get a free,” said Sheedy.

“Look, generally we wouldn’t have 17 wides, and generally we wouldn’t struggle to score from play, so it’s certainly a work-in-progress. I’d like to think by the time we get to the business end we’ll hopefully have that sorted. Or else I’m in trouble!!”

Again, Kingston perceived that part a little differently: “When you concede 22 frees, I think 15 were scoreable, and you get nine frees, you’re always going to be questioning the rationale for that. Look, the referees have a tough job, and I sympathise with it, but I was just baffled at some of them to be honest.”

Mark Coleman was again superb at centre back, making the position all his own, and Cork also drew good second-half displays from replacements Daire Connery and the excellent Conor Cahalane and the Alan Connolly.

Kingston admitted too their style of play may have been a little stagnant.

“Maybe we could have moved the ball a little quicker at times, maybe that’s something we have looked at, bring maybe more of a mix. Outside of no crowds, it’s really championship fare, playing Tipp in Thurles in May. So it’s great to give guys the chance to play at this level as well.”

Sheedy praised Brian McGrath for making another step up in the defence.

“He’s put his hand up and says he definitely wants to play, which is great news for us. Overall we’re building a nice panel, nice momentum building, and it’s all systems go again next weekend when Galway come to town.

“Look, the lads want to be competitive, this is a competitive league, maybe an aspect of our preparation that previously we wouldn’t be happy with, so we’ve our emphasis on the league. We’re trying to be competitive, and I have to say in the first two matches against top-class competition we are competitive.”

TIPPERARY: B Hogan; C Barrett (0-1), B McGrath (0-1), B Heffernan (0-2); P Maher, S Kennedy, R Maher (0-1, a free); A Flynn, N McGrath (0-2); J Forde (0-10 all frees), J Morris (0-1), N O’Meara; J O’Dwyer (0-1), J McGrath (0-2), W Connors.

Subs: M Breen for A Flynn (40 mins), P Flynn (0-1) for O’Meara (44 mins), P Cadell for N McGrath, Patrick Maher for O’Dwyer (both 55 mins), B Maher for Connors (59 mins), D Quirke for Morris (65 mins).

CORK: P Collins; N O’Leary, D Cahalane, S O’Leary-Hayes; R Downey, M Coleman, N Cashman; B Hennessy, T O’Mahony (1-1); R O’Flynn (0-1), J O’Connor, D Fitzgibbon (0-1); P Horgan (1-6, five frees), A Cadogan (0-3), L Meade.

Subs: C Cahalane (0-2) for O’Flynn (28 mins, inj), D Connery (0-1) for Cashman (44 mins), E Cadogan for Downey, T Deasy for O’Connor (both 55 mins), A Connolly (0-1) for A Cadogan, S O’Donoghue for O’Leary-Hayes (both 55 mins), S Twomey for Meade (74 mins).

Referee: J Murphy (Limerick)

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics