Going through the motions

 

Cork 0-16 Tipperary 1-12: There would not have been a great deal of competitive hurling expected before this game in Thurles as both teams were assured of top division games in the second series of the league after their victories last weekend.

The more discerning supporters from both camps anticipated this, as fewer than 2,000 turned up to watch the contest.

The fact neither side was playing for anything but pride may have robbed the exercise of a cutting edge but eventually things were stirred up following a couple of flare-ups, sparked off by isolated incidents of indiscreet pulling.

Dublin referee Aodhán Mac Suibhne was obliged to flash three yellow cards in the third quarter as Cork's John Gardiner, Tipperary's Francis Devaney and a particularly infuriated Michael Webster, also Tipperary, received marching orders after separate incidents.

Tipperary were the more affected by the dismissals as it meant they had lost their two central attackers in Devaney and Webster.

Gardiner's dismissal at first seemed likely to be the more damaging until Seán Óg Ó hAilpín appeared as his replacement. Flu victim Ó hAilpín proceeded to play his usual inspiring role from wing back.

The yellow-card incidents were at odds with the character of a game marked by slow-burning rather than explosively quick action.

If a fine opportunist goal by John Devane off a pinpoint centre from Paddy O'Brien just before half-time was a first-half highlight for the home side, Tom Kenny's sideline two points were equally impressive and left the teams on level terms, 1-6 to 0-9, at the break.

A battle for top-scorer status ensued between Tipperary's Eoin Kelly and Cork's Neill Ronan. The Corkman won by seven points to Kelly's six.

Kelly's contribution was handsome on or off the ball but he spoiled his scoring average in the second half with some wayward attempts. Ronan included a 65 and two frees in his tally and proved the more consistent.

Further back Diarmuid O'Sullivan, who blocked a likely goal shot, and Ronan Curran were effective in Cork's central defensive roles.

Joe Deane, from his fourth pointed free, 15 minutes into the second half, gave Cork a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Cork manager John Allen was upbeat about his team's display.

"I am happy to come here to the home of hurling and beat Tipperary in a tight game," he said.

Referring to the knockout stages he added: "We are in the business end of it now. We had questions to be answered about some players and it is tight matches like this that we need."

Ken Hogan, the Tipperary manager, was disappointed with the result "considering the amount of possession we had". But he was pleased with many aspects of his team's display "against the All-Ireland champions".

Hogan's assessment is understandable, for his side squandered three golden chances for vital scores when Tommy Dunne, Tadhg Slevin and Devane hit wides in rapid succession during the last 10 minutes.

CORK: D Óg Cusack; J Browne, D O'Sullivan, C O'Connor; J Gardiner, R Curran, G Callinan; T Kenny (0-2, sideline), K Hartnett; G McCarthy (0-1), T McCarthy (0-1), N Ronan (0-7, two frees one 65); J O'Callaghan, K Murphy, J Deane (0-4, frees). Subs: B O'Connor (0-1) for O'Callaghan (55 mins), N McCarthy for T McCarthy (42 mins) B Murphy for G McCarthy (blood substitute), S Óg Ó hAilpín for Gardiner (yellow card).

TIPPERARY: B Cummins; P Curran, P Maher, H Moloney; D Fanning, D Kennedy, E Corcoran; B Dunne (0-1), T King (0-1); P Morrissey, F Devaney, J Devane (1-2); E Kelly (0-6, three frees), M Webster, P O'Brien (0-1, free). Subs: C O'Mahoney for Curran (37 mins), T Slevin for King (58 mins), T Dunne (0-1) for Devaney (yellow card), E Sweeney for Devane (63 mins), P Kelly for Webster (yellow card).

YELLOW CARDS: Cork: J Gardiner. Tipperary: F Devaney, M Webster (mins),

Referee: A Mac Suibhne (Dublin)