Reserves of strength finally see Tipperary through
Munster Under-21 HC final replay/Tipperary 2-14 Cork 0-17: A goal in the fifth minute of second-half extra time by substitute Conor O'Mahoney decided this fascinating Munster Under-21 hurling final replay, watched by an official attendance of 14,104, at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last evening.
It came from a long delivery by another replacement, Evan Hanley, which dropped near the square and O'Mahoney reacted quickest to slam in the winner.
It was the only score in the period after the sides again couldn't be separated at the end of the first half of extra time. Tipperary join Cork at the top of the roll of honour on 16 wins, their first provincial title in the grade since 1999.
Senior star Eoin Kelly, for once, evaded the shackles of Brian Murphy to blast home the game's first goal in the opening minute to set-up a rousing extra 20 minutes' hurling.
In keeping with the trend of a tremendous match, Cork fought back to score four unanswered points, including a penalty from goalkeeper Martin Coleman, only for John O'Brien to point with the last act as the sides turned around level, at 1-14 to 0-17.
The sides had finished tied at 0-13 apiece at the end of a glorious second half in ordinary time in which Cork centre-back John Gardiner gave an exhibition of skill, while Tipperary full back John Devane wasn't far behind him.
Cork missed a great chance of a goal after 45 minutes, when they were awarded a penalty following a foul on Paul Tierney. Coleman made the long trip down to take it, but saw his effort brilliantly saved by Devane near the left upright.
Mindful of their slow start in the drawn encounter Cork came thundering out of the blocks on this occasion. Three times during a stop-start opening half, they enjoyed a four-point lead only for Tipperary to not only whittle it down, but actually go in at the break 0-8 to 0-7 in front.
Both sides made one change in personnel from the previous night. Cork kept Michael Naughton on from the beginning this time after he impressed as a substitute, while Joe Caesar was introduced to a re-shuffled Tipperary midfield.
Cork's impressive opening was highlighted by two points in quick succession. Midfielder Graham Callinan fired over from long range after six minutes and senior player Gardiner duly caught the puck-out before unleashing a huge effort from the half-back line.
When Setanta Ó hAilpín added another after 11 minutes it gave Cork a 0-4 to 0-1 advantage.
Tipperary switched centre forward Francis Devaney to full forward in a direct swop with John O'Brien after a quarter of an hour in an attempt to boost their attack, but it made little difference.
A huge point from half way by captain Paul Tierney restored Cork's four-point lead, 0-6 to 0-2, after 18 minutes. Eamonn Ryan replied for Tipperary only for Ó hAilpín to hit back with Cork's seventh point after 22 minutes. Amazingly, they didn't score again in the half as Tipperary responded brilliantly.
Inspired by centre back Diarmuid Fitzgerald and Hugh Moloney on his left, the visitors gained a stranglehold. They tacked on five points without reply to somehow be in front at the interval.
The second half was fast and furious with the teams level four times, though John O'Brien had a great chance with the last puck only to shoot wide with a colleague better placed just a few metres away.
Still, it didn't matter in the long run for Tipperary's brace of goals proved the difference in a memorable final.
CORK: M Coleman (0-1); G O'Brien, C O'Connor, B Murphy; S Murphy, J Gardiner (0-2), K Hartnett; P Tierney (0-3), G Callinan (0-1); K Murphy (Erin's Own), D O'Riordan, M Naughton (0-1); F Murphy (0-3), S Ó hAilpín (0-3), K Murphy (Sarsfields, 0-3). Subs: K Goggin for Naughton, B Barry for Murphy (Erin's Own), M O'Connor for Callinan, G McCarthy for O'Riordan, Callinan for Barry, M Ahern for Murphy (Sarsfields).
TIPPERARY: V Doheny; E Buckley, J Devane, M Phelan; M Maher, D Fitzgerald, H Moloney; E Ryan (0-1), J Caesar (0-1); P Buckley (0-2), F Devaney (0-2), M Farrell; E Kelly (capt, 1-6), J O'Brien (0-1), T Scroope (0-1). Subs: D Kennedy for Farrell, E Hanley for Caesar, C O'Mahoney (1-0) for Buckley, R O'Brien for J O'Brien.
Referee: S McMahon (Clare)