Cork hurlers are out of championship as Tipperary finish off in style

Cork hurlers are out of championship as Tipperary finish off in style

Mark Coleman was Cork's best hurler across their three championship games this season. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Tipperary 2-18 Cork 1-17

CORK are out of the All-Ireland hurling championship.

At the graveyard for teams from Leeside, the Gaelic Grounds, Tipperary were the better team and deservedly progress to the quarter-finals. It's the Rebels' earliest exit since 2016 when they were beaten by Wexford at the same stage.

They can have no complaints, with a wide tally of 18 to seven reflecting the Premier's superiority. Cork did go 1-15 to 1-14 ahead entering the last 10 minutes of normal time and Seamus Harnedy had an excellent second half, finishing with 0-4 from play.

However, Michael Breen was Man of the Match with a haul of 0-5, and when lively sub Willie Connors fed Jake Morris for a Tipp goal in the 68th minute there was no way back for Cork. The hard-working Dan McCormack got a key point in the closing stages before that green flag, while Paul Flynn popped up with 0-2 from the bench.

Cork were able to bring Darragh Fitzgibbon in midway through the second half and while he caused problems, and could have equalised just before Morris' killer goal, Conor Lehane struggled to make his mark in the last 15 minutes. Seán O'Donoghue, Mark Coleman, Tim O'Mahony and Patrick Horgan did well, but too few of the Rebels hurled to the level required to get the edge on Tipp in the knockout arena.

Cork tried to be too clever when they went back out for the second half with the wind, looking for runners in space when there was a more direct route available. Tipp pounced for the key goal through Jason Forde in the 41st minute and were playing with purpose and confidence. They led by five when Seamus Callanan shimmied for a trademark score: 1-12 to 1-7.

Cork showed guts to drag themselves back into the game, as Robbie O'Flynn got motoring alongside Harnedy in the middle third, and the game was there to be won when they went a point in front. O'Flynn was unlucky to see a fine effort drift just wide in the 60th minute that would have put Kieran Kingston's charges two ahead, but Tipp's passing and support play was a significant factor as they engineered those crucial scores in the closing stages. 

It didn't help that we saw the worst of Irish winter weather in the first half, sheets of rain and wild, swirling wind. Not the conditions you associate with Cork at their best, all quick feet and quicker wrists.

Tipp started with the wind and made it count in the opening quarter, leading 0-5 to 0-2, though aside from a fine Breen effort they were reliant on Jason Forde's free-taking. Dalton got a well-worked point after combining with Kingston and Horgan, to go with a tricky free on the 65 from the Cork captain.

Cork were operating with five in attack, Coleman as a sweeper and Bill Cooper at left wing-back. They'd two up top, Jack O'Connor and Horgan, with Dalton in the half-forwards where his heft kept Tipp honest.

Declan Dalton with Tipperary’s Niall O’Meara and Alan Flynn. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Declan Dalton with Tipperary’s Niall O’Meara and Alan Flynn. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Tim O'Mahony was stationed at centre-back and he blotted out John McGrath, who was taken off before half-time.

The Rebels needed to up their work-rate and try to cut down on the concession of frees and straight after the first water-break they got a significant boost when a brilliant Horgan goal after intercepting possession on the Tipp 65.

A foul on Jack O'Connor yielded another Horgan free and clever play by O'Connor and Dalton saw Tim O'Mahony zip into space to split the posts. The Premier settled to grab the next three points before the half-time whistle, 0-9 to 1-4, including super efforts from play through Forde and McCormack.

Anthony Nash, for the most part, went direct with his puck-outs into the teeth of the wind, but Cork didn't get the return they would have liked on the breaks. Luke Meade has his moments at midfield but O'Flynn was on the fringes, as was Harnedy.

Against seven defenders, Tipp did their best to avoid Coleman and it probably led to their tally of 12 wides across the 37 minutes. That included three from corner-back Alan Flynn. In contrast, Cork hit just three, and only one of those was from play.

Yet they couldn't punish their great rivals by the time James Owens sounded the final whistle. 

It's unusual, given the counties' status as hurling royalty, that they haven't met more often outside of the Munster championship.

Cork's last knockout backdoor clash against Tipp was in 2004, a memorable trip to Killarney where a Mac-attack, courtesy of Timmy and Niall McCarthy's goals, put Donal O'Grady's side back on track to the All-Ireland. 

The Premier won a group-stage qualifier at Semple in 2007, though both teams progressed regardless, and swept Cork aside in the 2014 semi-final at Croker. 

They take the spoils again here. Reflective of a golden era where they've lifted Liam McCarthy three times while Cork have only made one final.

Scorers for Tipperary: J Forde 1-6 (0-5 f), M Breen 0-5, J Morris 1-0, D McCormack, S Callanan, P Flynn 0-2 each, W Connors 0-1.

Cork: P Horgan 1-8 (0-7 f, 0-1 65), S Harnedy 0-4, S Kingston, B Cooper, R O'Flynn, D Dalton, T O'Mahony 0-1 each.

TIPPERARY: B Hogan; C Barrett, R Maher, A Flynn; N O'Meara, B Maher, Pádraic Maher; N McGrath, M Breen; D McCormack, J McGrath, Patrick Maher; J Forde, S Callanan, J Morris.

Subs: W Connors for N McGrath (33), P Flynn for Patrick Maher (52), P Cadell for N McGrath (59), M Kehoe for Forde (72).

CORK: A Nash; C Spillane, D Cahalane, S O'Donoghue; R Downey, T O'Mahony, M Coleman; R O'Flynn, L Meade; B Cooper, S Kingston, S Harnedy; J O'Connor, P Horgan, D Dalton. 

Subs: S McDonnell for Downey (47), D Fitzgibbon for Dalton (inj 50), C Lehane for O'Connor (59), A Walsh for Meade (68), B Hennessy for Kingston (73).

Referee: James Owens (Wexford).

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