Cork are Munster U20 hurling champions after battle with Tipp in the Páirc

Cork are Munster U20 hurling champions after battle with Tipp in the Páirc

Cork's Man of the Match Shane Barrett scores a point. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Cork 1-16 Tipperary 1-14

A GOAL from Jack Cahalane, the deadly finishing of Man of the Match Shane Barrett and some quality saves from keeper Eoin Davis saw Cork land the Bord Gáis Energy U20 Munster crown at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

It's the Rebels' second crown in three years in the grade, securing a place in the All-Ireland final against Galway or Dublin, sometime in the New Year when restrictions are lifted. 

Daire Connery and Colin O’Brien celebrate after. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Daire Connery and Colin O’Brien celebrate after. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

For now, they can simply soak up the pleasure of beating their greatest rivals in a joust that was finely poised at 0-13 apiece after 51 minutes. 

At that juncture, a lethal Barrett point from the tightest of angles, his fifth from play, followed by a long-range Daire Connery free after a foul on sub Shane O'Regan gave Cork a two-point lead with the next score crucial.

Cahalane's goal arrived soon after, replacement Seán Twomey keeping the sliotar alive to tee up Brian O'Sullivan, whose drive was repelled only for Cahalane to pounce on the rebound. 

Centre-back Ciarán Joyce, just out of minor, was immense in the last 20 minutes, but the defence collectively made some key interceptions. Brian Roche got through a pile of work and Daire O'Leary and Aaron Walsh Barry burst out time and again.

Cork's bench press was decisive in extra time in the semi-final and made a difference here too, Cahalane earning the free that he scored to put Cork six points ahead in the 60th minute. 

The impressive Andrew Ormonde did nab 1-1 across injury time to fray the nerves, but Pat Ryan's charges were the better team by a nose.

What was encouraging was this was a tight contest that could have gone against the home side. Too often in recent seasons they're the type of games Cork teams lose.

The first half was wind-swept and nervy. Exactly what you'd expect from a Munster final on the eve of Christmas.

Cork took a while to warm up. Tipp were extremely dangerous running at pace down the middle, with Davis forced into a smart early save and a Kian O'Kelly shot whizzed just over.

The most experienced Premier defender, and captain, Eoghan Connolly was allowed to sit deep from centre-back and he hoovered up the majority of long deliveries.

Tipperary's Conor Bowe with Eoin Roche, Daire O’Leary and Tommy O’Connell of Cork. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Tipperary's Conor Bowe with Eoin Roche, Daire O’Leary and Tommy O’Connell of Cork. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Still, Daire Connery was on a few breaks from wing-back, while Tommy O'Connell was more heavily involved at midfield than he had been in the previous rounds against Kerry and Limerick. When Cork did supply their inside line, Shane Barrett was a significant threat and Colin O'Brien, after a sluggish start, lanced over two sweet scores in the second quarter.

The Rebels were 0-8 to 0-4 ahead after 21 minutes but they coughed up a few cheap frees, while Eoghan Connolly landed some boomers from distance and it was 0-10 to 0-9 at half-time. The running of Brian Roche earned placed balls that Alan Connolly converted.

The theme after half-time was similar. A Davis save prevented a certain Andrew Ormonde goal, though he did curl over a lovely point finished with 1-3 to his name. Barrett pounced for his fourth from play, with O'Brien and Roche also pointing: 0-13 to 0-12 at the water break.

The fourth-quarter swung the game to the Rebels. A badly-needed victory.

Tipp had beaten Cork in the last three encounters in the grade, two All-Ireland finals and a Munster decider with a last-gasp goal. The stakes couldn't have been higher, particularly with an underage badly needly on Leeside.

Scorers for Cork: S Barrett 0-5, A Connolly 0-4 f, J Cahalane 1-1 (0-1 f), C O'Brien 0-3, D Connery (f), D Flynn, B Roche 0-1 each.

Tipp: A Ormonde 1-3, D Ryan 0-5 (0-3 f), E Connolly 0-4 f, C Bowe, K O'Kelly 0-1 each.

CORK: E Davis (St Catherine’s); C O’Callaghan (Dromtarriffe, c), E Roche (Bride Rovers), A Walsh Barry (Carrigtwohill); D Connery (Na Piarsaigh), C Joyce (Castlemartyr), D O’Leary (Watergrasshill); T O’Connell (Midleton), E Carey (Kilworth); B Roche (Bride Rovers), D Flynn (Ballygiblin), B Hayes (St Finbarr's); C O’Brien (Liscarroll/Churchtown Gaels); A Connolly (Blackrock), S Barrett (Blarney).

Subs: S O'Regan (Watergrasshill) for Connolly (40), J Cahalane (St Finbarr's) for Hayes (43), S Twomey (Courcey Rovers) for Flynn (45), B O'Sullivan (Kanturk) for Carey (50), P Power (Blarney) for O'Brien (55).

TIPPERARY: A Browne; J Ryan, C Whelan, E McBride; D Flannery, E Connolly (c), R McCormack; K Maher, K McCarthy; G O’Connor, D Ryan, J Devaney; A Ormond, K O’Kelly, C Bowe.

Subs: S Ryan for O'Kelly (47), M Hackett for D Ryan (49), K Ryan for McCarthy (59).

Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick).

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