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Daniel Kearney reacts to a missed chance. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Daniel Kearney reacts to a missed chance. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Throwing away a big lead made a draw feel like a defeat but Kingston's return to form was a big plus

THERE’S no point in denying it, Sunday's draw in Thurles felt like a defeat.

The 10-point lead in the first half, during a spellbinding 35 minutes of Cork’s best hurling — that combination of support play, pace and devastating movement up top — should have been enough. Certainly the Rebels should have seen it out when they rode out Tipp’s second-half comeback to still lead by three points after 66 minutes.

That the equaliser came after possession was fumbled by Seán O’Donoghue, who had another fine display otherwise, added insult to injury. A few minutes earlier, Tim O’Mahony betrayed his inexperience by trying to flick a looping ball towards the net when he might have caught it and finished off the Premier.

Despite the late error, Sean O'Donoghue impressed again. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Despite the late error, Sean O'Donoghue impressed again. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

During that exchange, Patrick Horgan opted to try and send O’Mahony clear when he could have clipped a point himself. It summed up a thrilling game which was riddled by errors, not all of them down to the intensity of the tackling and roar from the crowd.

While the new round-robin format is in its infancy, the passion and commitment hasn’t diminished on yesterday’s evidence. Cork wasted a terrific chance to put the nail in the coffin for this Tipp team. They looked leggy and outgunned in the first half, but the Rebels took the boot off their throats when they allowed them string five unanswered points on the restart.

Coughing up a goal midway through the second half just after Conor Lehane struck, thanks to a clever ground pull by Luke Meade, to go 1-19 to 1-13 was the crucial moment. Mark Ellis and Chris Joyce, whose size and strength had given Cork a firm grip between the 45 and the 65 initially, made a mess of a clearance and Noel McGrath pounced.

From there on the Rebels were struggling to stay afloat and, apart from the late burst of scores from Shane Kingston (2) and Seamus Harnedy, were outfought. In a way they were lucky not to have lost.

Though Tipp never led, they engineered three goal chances in addition to the two green flags they raised. Anthony Nash made three quality saves and even Jake Morris’ leveller could have been a goal if he’d been ruthless.

Anthony Nash blocks a John O’Dwyer effort. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Anthony Nash blocks a John O’Dwyer effort. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

For all that, it’s important not to be too negative. It was demoralising not to seal the deal after nailing 1-15 in the first half, but Cork are two games into this new Munster series and are unbeaten with a home game to come against Limerick next Saturday.

The Shannonsiders are on a high after their victory against Tipp and will be rested after a gap weekend but Páirc Uí Chaoimh should give Cork the initiative. Kingston has rediscovered the explosive form that lit up the opening rounds last summer and O’Donoghue is developing into a top-level corner-back in a full-back line capable of going toe to toe with anyone.

Harnedy finished with 0-5 from play and two assists, while Daniel Kearney operated both as sweeper and score-taker with a serious impact until his tank was empty. Bill Cooper was rock solid for the most part until Tipp delivered ball away from midfield in the second half.

Horgan and Lehane each split the posts twice but they left a few scores behind them too. Horgan was starved of second-half possession and while Tipp deserve credit for upping the ante out the field, Cork didn’t help themselves by running ball at times when they had chances to go long to the full-forward earlier.

Cork needed more from Conor Lehane. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Cork needed more from Conor Lehane. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Lehane was pretty quiet in the first half – not that Cork needed him to fire at that stage – but even when he got motoring in the second half never completely cut loose. Hopefully there’s a display ala his Man of the Match outing last summer against Tipp next weekend. It’ll be interesting to see if John Meyler and his selectors freshen the line-up for the Limerick tie. Injuries to Michael Cahalane (due back next Saturday) and Alan Cadogan aren’t helping their cause, while Robbie O’Flynn’s pace would have been ideal yesterday, even if Kingston finished with 1-5 as his direct replacement.

Tipperary Michael Cahill and Shane Kingston of Cork. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Tipperary Michael Cahill and Shane Kingston of Cork. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

Whatever about the attack, Cork’s half-back line was over-ran at stages in the second half and, while he’s nominally a full-back, Eoin Cadogan might be a good bench option if the same happens on Saturday. To a degree Cork can afford to lose to Limerick and still progress from Munster with a victory over Waterford, but that would damage their confidence and momentum.

Or whatever momentum is left after leaving the game behind them in Thurles.