Cork U20s left devasted after late Tipp goal denies them in epic Munster hurling final

Cork U20s left devasted after late Tipp goal denies them in epic Munster hurling final
Cork's Brian Turnbull and Craig Morgan of Tipperary. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

HEARTBREAK for the Cork U20 hurlers in Thurles after an injury-time goal from Jake Morris snatched the Munster title for Tipp.

Denis Ring's side had gone ahead in the 60th minute of an epic contest when sub Evan Sheehan pounced on a loose ball in the square, before Darragh Woods and Brian Turnbull traded points.
A two-point lead is never secure in hurling in the 64th minute Jake Morris thundered onto a break and, despite being well-marshalled by Ger Millerick up to then, buried the sliotar emphatically. 

Daire Connery had a last-gasp shot to force extra time but his effort from 70 minutes drifted narrowly wide. This was a repeat of the minor classics two years ago when Cork drew in Semple Stadium thanks to a Sheehan penalty before pushing on in the replay.

That was knockout though, and what's crucial for Cork hurling about this is both counties progress to the All-Ireland semi-finals on the August Bank Holiday weekend. Cork must face Leinster champions Kilkenny and it's Tipp against Wexford.

Last season, when the grade was still U21, the Rebels hammered their old rivals in the provincial final only to be stunned in the All-Ireland. The key now is they regroup and focus on the big prize, as Cork haven't lifted the crown at U21/U20 since 1998.

This was a blistering contest from the off, Conor Bowe giving Tipp an early advantage with a neat goal. Cork though gained the initiative midway through the first half with Connery hurling the world of ball and Tommy O'Connell buzzing around from wing-forward.

Millerick and Seán O'Leary Hayes were excellent at the back and Shane O'Regan found his groove in attack despite a few wayward point attempts initially. Seán Twomey, who ended up with 1-2 and was fouled for three converted frees, rifled in a fine goal.

Tipp would have been in real trouble had a Shane O'Regan shot, which was deflected over for his third first-half point, rattled the net instead. Even at that juncture, ahead 1-9 to 1-4 after 21 minutes, Cork were in command. 

The home side refused to wilt. They upped their work-rate and forced Cork into errors around the middle third. Three points on the spin were followed by an opportunistic goal from sub Kian O'Kelly and the Premier were ahead. 

Brian Turnbull and Tommy O'Connell combined to level but the Premier had the momentum and the wind to come in the second half. 

Instead Cork started brightly with senior Robert Downey shifted up to wing-forward to try and bring him into the action, with Ryan Walsh going wing-back. 

The Rebels got the first three points on the restart through Turnbull, O'Connell and a Craig Hanifin free but with Jerome Cahill and Bowe finding their range and the defence tackling ferociously, Tipp were up 2-12 to 1-13 with 10 minutes left. Only for an incredible diving tackle from O'Leary Hayes, the Premier would have raised a third green flag.

Cork sub Pádraig Power and corner-back Eoin Roche landed brilliant points and when Sheehan goaled it seemed Cork had survived. This is hurling though and the stunning finale left Cork devestated.  

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