Old rivals serve up a summer treat

 

GAELIC GAMES:LIKE Mr Dick in David Copperfield, the Cork-Tipperary rivalry sets us all right. On a weekend when the latest suggestion of dissident activity in Leinster saw Dublin rounded up by All-Ireland champions Kilkenny in Portlaoise, Munster’s old firm served up a restorative contest in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in the Munster hurling semi-final.

The crowd of 32,568 was better than expected and a pleasant sunny afternoon staged an absorbing encounter that had everything from a pre-match confrontation, which brought yellow cards for Cork’s Cathal Naughton and Tipp’s Pádraic Maher, the return of Lar Corbett from retirement, a red card, and a disallowed goal to an edgy one-point win for the Munster champions.

Cork selector Johnny Crowley queried the disallowed goal, touched in by Patrick Cronin from a long free in the 30th minute. “We were very unlucky with that goal. It looked a good goal to me.”

It was only a second championship win in 90 years at the venue for Tipperary and sent them forward to a Munster final in the same ground against Waterford, who they dismembered at the same stage last year.

Corbett scored 4-4 that day but he was pleased with yesterday’s more modest outcome, a tight win and a second-half run that reintroduced him to intercounty fare.

“We’re just looking forward to getting back into training Tuesday night – and lads will be looking for a place on the team for the Munster final. No one can get complacent because they know there’s someone on their back waiting for their spot. We’ve had two big tests – against Limerick and against Cork. That builds character.

“That’s what this team has, and we’ve showed it over the past number of years. After last year’s Munster final we knew there was a big hole that we could fall into. We can’t get complacent. Down in Cork, against Cork, and down to 14 men, it just goes to show the character of the team.”

The red card shown to John O’Brien for a second yellow came just minutes after Noel McGrath’s goal appeared to have opened up some daylight between the teams. Instead the fog of battle swirled until the end saw Tipp prevail by a point 1-22 to 0-24.

Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy has been engaged in the process of rebuilding the county’s challenge and morale but an encouraging league run culminated in defeat by Kilkenny and yesterday was the second disappointment in a row.

In his second spell in charge of the county he faces into an unfamiliar landscape, a qualifier against either defeated Leinster semi-finalists Offaly, who brought the curtain down on JBM’s previous tenure, or Dublin.

“The qualifiers are a tough route to go. And I’ve never been that way before – as a player or as a coach. So it’s new to me. So our job is to get the players up from that (defeat) which can be quite shattering. When I took over the job I said Kilkenny and Tipperary were the standard, and it’s a long road back for us.

“It was disappointing to lose. The players showed brilliant commitment. We missed a few chances, if we had got one of them, we might have won the game. We’re never happy to lose, but they were fantastic. Dublin aren’t a bad team overnight. Nor are Offaly, so we’re not in a position to be over confident against anyone.”

“I can’t fault anybody. We’re moving in the right direction. Well, I hope we are. We had a great chance of winning this at home. But hopefully we’ll learn from this and move on.”

The draw for phase two of the qualifiers will be announced today on Morning Ireland at 8.30.

Elsewhere there was a remarkable comeback in the Ulster championship in Armagh, which saw Down reach a first provincial final in nine years. Trailing Monaghan by nine points, 0-2 to 0-11, coming up to half-time James McCartan’s team earned a penalty, which Aidan Carr scored.

The revival continued in the second half although substitute Tommy Freeman was sprung from the bench and hit a goal to recover the initiative for Monaghan. Down persevered and introduced a familiar face of their own, Benny Coulter who contributed a point to the recovery, which was rounded off by an late point from Darren O’Hagan for a 1-14 to 1-13 win. Down will face the winners of next weekend’s semi-final between Donegal and Tyrone in Clones.

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