Munster hurling final rewatch: Cork and Tipp duked it out at Semple in 2000

Munster hurling final rewatch: Cork and Tipp duked it out at Semple in 2000
Seanie McGrath acknowledges an assist by a team-mate after he scored a point. The Glen man always savoured his scores. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

Despite three Tipp goals and two saved penalties, with victory only sealed for Cork through Seánie McGrath's neat left-sided point in stoppage time, it was a good game rather than a great one. 

Enjoyable from a Rebel perspective due to the result, though somewhat diminished by the shock loss to Offaly in the All-Ireland semi-final, it was still a special occasion. 

The first meeting between hurling's most intense rivals in eight years, and they wouldn't clash again for another four, having Nicky English and JBM as the managers added to the sense of history.

Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

It was certainly a worthwhile rewatch on eir Sport Gold, with an instant takeaway the excellence of Pat Ryan as a second-half sub. Now the Cork U20 manager, Ryan came on for Mickey O'Connell after the break immediately setting up scores for Joe Deane and McGrath. 

The Sars man hit the world of ball at midfield and also arrowed over a difficult free in the last quarter. All the more impressive as he'd been dropped from the starting 15 after the Munster semi-final against Limerick.

Cork midfielder Pat Ryan, battles John Leahy, Tipperary, in 2000. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
Cork midfielder Pat Ryan, battles John Leahy, Tipperary, in 2000. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Cork rode their luck in the first half, where Tipp hit 12 wides to seven, but looked to certain to retain the provincial crown twice in the second half only for Tommy Dunne to plunder a couple of goals. While penalties from Dunne and John Leahy were stopped, Cork squandered a few goal chances too.

A key difference was that Cork had a quicker and more skillful attacking unit. Deane, Ben O'Connor and McGrath all pilfered 0-3 from play apiece, but so too did Alan Browne. Promoted to the line-up because of an injury to Neil Ronan, the veteran's shooting was polished but his physicality important too.

Fergal McCormack, Timmy McCarthy and Derek Barrett put themselves about as well, but not for the first time, the power of Diarmuid O'Sullivan and Seán Óg Ó hAilpín was critical. 

Diarmuid O'Sullivan catches the sliotar over Paul Shelly. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Diarmuid O'Sullivan catches the sliotar over Paul Shelly. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The Rock was in his element marking Paul Shelly, two bulls at the edge of the square. The Cork number three inspired the supporters with two soaring catches followed by those trademark charges out of defence; Shelly was taken off before full-time. 

The more Cork hurling games you put on to get through the lockdown, the more you appreciate Seán Óg. With his athleticism, he was a prototype modern hurler. What stands out is his touch and quick, clean pick-ups. Both underrated traits which made him so consistent. 

Seán Óg Ó hAilpín in action against Eugene O'Neill. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
Seán Óg Ó hAilpín in action against Eugene O'Neill. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Some other notes. 

Two future inter-county bainisteoirs were in action, 2016 All-Ireland winning Tipp boss Michael Ryan and current Waterford headman Liam Cahill. Ryan struggled with Seánie McGrath's pace early on while Cahill pilfered a point.

Kevin Murray, the super-sub in '99, clipped over the point of the game from the right after one of O'Sullivan's booming clearances. Ben O'Connor's work-rate was terrific, two blocks directly leading to scores.

What a pity Cork coughed up their All-Ireland title in the semi-final after.

Micheál Martin, the new Taoiseach, watching the 2000 Munster final. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
Micheál Martin, the new Taoiseach, watching the 2000 Munster final. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

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