TIPPERARY scored the opening five points inside nine minutes and Cork looked stunned by the onslaught in Thurles on Saturday night.
Bad enough that one set of forwards were on fire from the start, but Cork had kicked four wides in the same period, most of them from scoreable positions.
There was also a touch of irony about Tipp’s first scorer, young Rian Quigley, who had played for the county’s U20s in their one-point defeat by Limerick in the Munster championship a couple of nights earlier.
The Moyle Rovers player is one of the stars in the UCC Freshers team that is in the quarter-final of the championship, awaiting the outcome of the NUIG-UUJ group game last night.
College management think very highly of him and there was further irony in that Quigley wasn’t listed in the starting 15, but was one of four changes, three of whom scored.
Cork eventually got on the scoreboard, not through their forwards, but defenders Mattie Taylor and Cian Kiely, who both ventured into opposition territory to plant a couple of much-needed scores in quick succession.
“We didn’t settle into the game as quickly as we should and Tipp kicked some fantastic points,” said Kiely afterwards.
“It’s one of those areas that needs work and an improvement on, obviously.
“Yet, I thought we stuck to the game plan and the system despite falling five points down early on.
“The fact that we kept on working and working hard helped get us back into the game,” the De La Salle Macroom teacher added.
Cork’s resurgence included a 22nd minute Ruairí Deane goal, taking full advantage of a fine Seán White pass and they were level within a minute as Cathail O’Mahony converted a free following a foul on Deane, 1-4 to 0-7.
Tipp, though, found their wind again and a second five-point salvo, including three-in-a-row from Jack Kennedy from Clonmel Commercials helped them lead by 0-12 to 1-6 at the break.
Goals had been an issue with the Division 3 leaders, who had bagged just one in three previous outings, but that changed dramatically in the second-half and again at a time of great need.
Luke Connolly tucked away a penalty following a foul on Taylor by Quigley and the Nemo Rangers ace added his second and Cork’s third for a 3-9 to 0-16 lead after 50 minutes.
“It was fantastic to see,” said Kiely. The main thing is trying to get into good scoring positions and when we do get in there we must try and convert them.
“It was something we had problems with in the last few weeks, but we’re working on it and it was great to get those three goals.”
Cork didn’t score again in the closing 10 minutes’ regulation time and six more added on for injuries and substitutions as Tipp claimed the last three points.
In the end, Cork escaped with a 3-13 to
0-21 victory to maintain their perfect start, four wins from as many outings and firmly on course for promotion.
“The main thing is that we got the points. That is what it’s all about even though we’re the first to admit the performance won’t do in the future.
“It was a good game and great to get the win, but they are definitely a lot of things that we have to work on.
“I thought we made a lot of mistakes throughout the game and there’s a big improvement needed for Sunday.
“We knew we had a hard game in front of us. Every game is a bit of a dog-fight and all we can do is keep on pushing hard,” Kiely concluded.
Cork’s next outing is at home to Derry at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday at 2pm, when the footballers will wear the specially commissioned black jerseys.
Derry are one of four teams on five points, three adrift of Cork, in what is shaping up to be a right log-jam in the chase for those two coveted promotion places.