Depth of Cork's football squad can Tipp the balance at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Depth of Cork's football squad can Tipp the balance at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Bill Maher of Tipperary contests possession with Killian O'Hanlon of Cork in the league meeting earlier this season. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

PÁIRC Uí Chaoimh is the venue for a first Cork v Tipperary Munster senior football final since 2002.

Not only is the Munster title up for grabs but also a tempting All-Ireland semi-final clash with Mayo awaiting the winners.

Cork are looking to secure their first Munster title since 2012. That win was, of course, secured by the bulk of the 2010 All-Ireland winning crew.

When injured Cork captain Graham Canty lifted the Munster Cup that afternoon, after a 3-16 to 0-13 win over Clare, very few could have predicted that Cork would go so long without another provincial gong.

And, of course, there is no guarantee that the wait will end this Sunday.

While Cork’s amazing Mark Keane inspired last gasp victory over Kerry in the semi-final was a major tonic for Cork football it will also have been seen as the signal of a genuine opportunity for Tipperary to win their own first provincial football title at senior level since 1935.

Cork’s seven-year wait has seemed like an eternity for suffering Rebel supporters; imagine what it must feel like waiting 85 years then!

And if the Tipp team needed any extra motivation then the novel commemorational green and white jersey that they are wearing on Sunday to remember Michael Hogan and the other victims of Bloody Sunday 100 years ago in Croke Park will certainly provide that.

Tipp had their own extra time semi-final heroics against Limerick when substitute Brian Fox’s late point got David Power’s side over the line by the bare minimum.

Cork comfortably beat Tipperary the last time the two sides met in the championship back in 2018, by 1-17 to 0-9, but it is perhaps easy to forget that Tipp were fast becoming Cork’s bogey team up until that beating.

It took a late Luke Connolly goal to give Cork a 1-10 to 1-9 triumph in 2017, and this match was extra notable as it came a year after the Premier county had taken the Rebel scalp in 2016 with a deserved 3-15 to 2-16 triumph at Semple Stadium.

Perhaps the best form line to judge what to expect this weekend is to look at the last two league clashes between the counties, with Cork winning by a solitary point pre-Covid, earlier this year in their Division 3 clash, and by three points the year before.

A flat display would present Tipp with a real opportunity, and Ronan McCarthy’s side does not need to be told how vulnerable a red-hot favourite can be to a late sucker punch if they are not able to kill off their opposition early.

You would imagine the template for Tipp will be fairly similar to what worked against Kerry. McCarthy and Cian O’Neill will be mindful of the twin scoring threat that Tipp possess up front in Conor Sweeney and Michael Quinlivan.

Filling the middle eight with big athletes against Kerry ensured that Cork won the battle for the middle third and dominated the possession stakes, which, of course, meant that the supply to David Clifford and friends inside was restricted. 

David Clifford shooting under pressure from Paul Kerrigan. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
David Clifford shooting under pressure from Paul Kerrigan. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Rinse and repeat and Cork should at least ensure that they restrict Tipperary on the scoreboard.

One area that Cork may look to twist is in naming one more notable scorer from the start than they did the last day.

Against Kerry only Brian Hurley would have been noted as an out and out shooter in the Cork forward line, so Cork were never likely to put up a big number on the scoreboard.

Sacrificing one of the middle eight and naming someone like Cathail O’Mahony inside would give Cork more of a scoring threat.

Such a move would give Cork more firepower up front but it would also ensure that they would retain the strong bench that was so instrumental in the victory over Kerry.

When Cork led Kerry at half time by 0-6 to 0-5 Cork fans were encouraged by the fact that they had shooters to come on in the form of Luke Connolly, Michael Hurley and Paul Kerrigan, and the considerable presence of AFL professional Mark Keane, and we all know what happened there.

If Cork are going to be successful on Sunday, and beyond, then they will require more big contributions from their bench.

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