THE scoreline tells the story here. Cork were simply outclassed by Tipperary at Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday in their last meaningful game before the Munster championship.
They do have a game to play against Kilkenny next weekend to determine which group both will be in next season in the restructured national hurling league but, being honest, it’s a game that won’t generate a great deal of interest.
This was not a good day for Cork hurling and it certainly left the home support with more questions than answers.
In stark contrast, Tipperary excelled in the windy conditions and were superior in all departments, booking their place in the quarter-finals long before the last whistle.
League campaigns in recent times are more notable for their inconsistency than consistency, with results changing dramatically from one week to the next, but few could have envisaged this outcome and its lopsided nature.
Tipp had lost their three previous outings and had been away for the past week for some warm-weather training, but they were a totally focused unit here, taking the game to Cork from the outset and, playing with the aid of a substantial wind, they had constructed a 10-point advantage by half-time.
Cork had just two scores from play in that opening 35 minutes, a point apiece from Alan Cadogan — who later in the half went off injured — and Conor Lehane.
There wasn’t a whole pile between the sides in the early sequences of the half, but as it aged, Tipp cut loose, with Jason Forde blitzing the home team with some fine points from the placed ball and from play.
Niall O’Meara, Seamus Callanan and Jake Morris were also splitting the sticks and Michael Breen was ruling the roost in the middle of the field, converting exquisite points in that opening 35 minutes.
Defensively, Cork were struggling quite a bit, but, given the strength of the wind, the 10-point gap that divided the teams was not insurmountable.
Cork introduced Mark Coleman and Luke Meade for the second half, but the positive start they required did not materialise and things went from bad to worse when a mistake by Damien Cahalane led to Forde hammering the ball past Anthony Nash.
Cork now had an Everest to climb and, effectively, wind or no wind the game was over.
Bill Cooper, who was one of Cork’s better players, got a point back, but Forde continued to punish transgressions.
Breen continued to exert his influence on the proceedings with a brace of points, bringing the gap between the sides to 17 points.
Two more Forde points had it up to 19 and Cork were in the deepest trouble they had been in for many a long day against their archrivals.
Things then went from bad to worse, when team captain Seamus Harnedy got a straight red card for a foul on James Barry after 56 minutes.
Aidan Walsh raised a green flag for Cork shortly afterwards, following a peach of ball from Conor Lehane, who could not be faulted, and subsequently Nash made a few sublime stops at the other end.
To be fair, Cork ploughed away and a few good points from Shane Kingston — after he had missed a few in the first half when he replaced Alan Cadogan — Lehane, Luke Meade and Coleman helped to add some respectability to the scoreboard.
However, at that juncture, Tipp had emptied their bench and taken their foot off the accelerator.
Patrick Horgan and Lehane added on a few late points, but it all ended with Breen adding to his tally, making it an excellent day for the Ballina club man.
Forde finished with a tally of 1-13, with Breen securing six points from open play. They vied for the man-of-the-match crown on a day when Tipp sent out a clear message that they are up and running.
For Cork, it was one of those forgettable days and some soul searching surely lies ahead.
Scorers for Tipperary: Jason Forde 1-13 (0-8 f, 0-1 5), Michael Breen 0-6, Seamus Callanan 0-3 (0-1 f), Jake Morris, Niall O’Meara 0-2 each, Noel McGrath, John McGrath, John O’Dwyer 0-1 each.
Cork: Patrick Horgan 0-6 (0-4 f, 0-1 65), Conor Lehane 0-4, Aidan Walsh 1-0, Bill Cooper, Mark Coleman, Shane Kingston, Robbie O’Flynn, Luke Meade, Alan Cadogan 0-1 each.
CORK: A. Nash; D. Browne, D. Cahalane, S. McDonnell; C. Joyce, T. O’Mahony, E. Cadogan; C. Murphy, B. Cooper; C. Lehane, S. Harnedy (c), D. Dooley; A. Cadogan, A. Walsh, P. Horgan.
Subs: S. Kingston for A. Cadogan (inj, 33); L. Meade and M. Coleman for Dooley and E. Cadogan (h-t); R. O’Flynn for Murphy (51); J. O’Connor for Walsh (inj, 71).
TIPPERARY: Paul Maher; C. Barrett, J. Barry, R. Maher; J. O’Dwyer, Padraic Maher, R. Byrne; N. McGrath, M. Breen; J. Morris, N. O’Meara, J. Forde; J. O’Dwyer, S. Callanan (c), J. McGrath.
Subs: Patrick Maher for Forde (inj, 58); A. Flynn for O’Dwyer (60); B. Heffernan for O’Meara (63); M. Kehoe for Callanan (68).
Referee: S. Cleere (Kilkenny).