THAT the Cork minor hurling team got their Munster championship campaign off to a winning start in sun-splashed Páirc Uí Chaoimh was of paramount importance.
Not alone for the building of confidence in these promising young hurlers but for the positive attitude they will have hitting the road for their second-round game away to Limerick on Sunday.
Crucially, momentum will be on their side when they face the Shannonsiders as the Green and White will be taking to LIT Gaelic Grounds to begin their campaign. As well, having got the better of provincial defending champions Tipperary will be a massive boost to John Considine’s charges.
It was hard to know what to expect before this match threw in. There was no form to go on.
These players are mostly 16-year-olds which is a tall order at that age considering many of them are performing in front of a large crowd in a big stadium for the first time but make no mistake about it this was a very good display.
Tipperary brought the margin back to three points at the interval, and they probably would have been happy enough with their first half, considering they played second fiddle for most of the 30 minutes plus one of additional time.
The second half, Cork were well on top. On the scoreboard, they won 19 points to 1-7, but more importantly, they can take plenty from this whole-hearted performance.
They played with an assurance, and while there is still a long way to go that will present their share of challenges, it was vital that the hosts take the points on offer on Leeside.
And they deserve all the plaudits for the first half. It set them up for what was to come. Straight from the throw-in corner forward Paul O’Riordan pointed.
It took a mere 15 seconds and the swift passage of play involving midfielder Ethan Twomey and wing-back Brian O’Sullivan was a sign of what was to come.
Twomey and Luke Horgan both had outstanding matches in the centre of the field with St Finbarr’s Twomey contributing four excellent points for good measure.
By the time Darragh Flynn posted the first of his eight magnificent points in third minute, Cork had gone three to one up.
When the first goal chance presented itself, the right man was in the right place. The ability of Jack Cahalane, one of the players involved in this championship last year, to win possession despite being outnumbered three to one was typical of the full-forward.
The concession of which will have disappointed the Premier County. The major, after a mere nine minutes, provided the platform for Cork to drive on. Cahalane had a big presence in front of the posts, so much so, the visitors were forced to move one of their more experienced defenders, Conor O’Dwyer, back on him in the second half.
Tipperary came more into the action in the second quarter. They were fortunate to be just a goal adrift at this juncture, 1-5 to 0-5.
But the supply was constant to the Cork attack and in spite of missing a few handy scores, they stretched the lead out to five points with 10 minutes to go to half time. Tipperary’s strength grew at the end of the half and four points on the trot brought them within one white flag.
Critically, Cahalane was able to apply the pressure once again with a tonic score on the brink of half-time.
Substitute Colin Walsh from the Kanturk club who had just been introduced for the injured Daire O’Leary was the provider down along with wing as Cahalane notched his second goal.
After the break, it turned out to be a procession of spectacular Cork scores. While Jack Leamy – Tipp’s chief marksman – registered the first point of the new half, the next seven points arrived unanswered from the Rebels. Some gems courtesy of Flynn, Cian McCarthy (Oliver Plunkett's), O’Riordan and Walsh.
The run of scores prompted Tipperary manager Paul Collins to bring in three substitutes in one sweep. It made little difference. With the exception of a Colm Fogarty point, the home side fired another four points. Game over with the fourth quarter to play, 2-19 to 0-13.
The Blue and Gold did get in for a goal from Fogarty but it was too late to make any impact.
With five minutes added time announced, Cork closed out emphatically, scoring four points in that five-minute spell. Important too to be cognisant of scoring difference.
Being in command also enabled management to empty the bench and give important game time to the likes of Seán Walsh, Isaac Walsh, Leon Doocey and Jake Carr.
Overall, this was a solid start for Cork. Eleven different scorers got on the sheet, and their backs headed up by Ciarán Joyce, gave very little away. The goal conceded near the end will give them something to work on.
A return of 2-23 — 2-19 from play — will please Considine and his backroom team no end. A comprehensive victory that sets them up nicely for round two.
Scorers for Cork: J Cahalane 2-3, D Flynn 0-8 (0-4 f), E Twomey 0-4, P O’Riordan 0-3, C McCarthy 0-3 (0-1 f), C Walsh 0-2, L Horgan, D Hogan, I Walsh, J Carr 0-1 each.
Tipperary: J Leamy 0-8 (0-7 f), C Fogarty 1-4, J Campion 0-4, T Cahill, C Dwyer 0-1 each.
CORK: B Sanderson (Midleton); S Kingston (Ballinora), C McCarthy (Blackrock), C O’Brien St Catherine’s); C McCarthy (Oliver Plunkett's), C Joyce (Castlemartyr), B O’Sullivan (Kanturk); E Twomey (St Finbarr’s), L Horgan (Glen Rovers); D Flynn (Ballygiblin), D O’Leary (Watergrasshilll), D Hogan (Sarsfields); C McCarthy (Sarsfields), J Cahalane (St Finbarr’s), P O’Riordan (Tracton).
Subs: C Walsh (Kanturk) for D O’Leary (25, S Walsh (Carrigtwohill) for C McCarthy (51), I Walsh (Lisgoold) for E Twomey (58), L Doocey (Castlelyons) for L Horgan (60), J Carr (Fermoy) for P O’Riordan (60).