John Horgan: Cork hurlers must now follow the footballers' lead

In Tipp's display against Limerick and Cork versus Kerry, the underdogs refused to be bullied
John Horgan: Cork hurlers must now follow the footballers' lead

Former Republic of Ireland international Roy Keane was an interested spectator at Cork and Kerry at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

THERE were plenty of similarities between the Cork and Kerry encounter and Limerick versus Tipperary over the weekend.

In both cases, you had overwhelming favourites with few if any giving Cork and Tipperary any chance. As we all know at this stage the favourites prevailed but not to the extent that many thought they would.

Fair enough, the margin at the end in the football game was 12 points while it was eight between Limerick and Tipp but neither scoreline was really a fair reflection.

It was just a one-point game after 50 minutes in the big ball encounter while Tipperary led Limerick by a point after an hour at the Gaelic Grounds. That’s as far as it went for the underdogs. Coming down the home stretch the two fancied teams went into a different gear. 

Sean Finn of Limerick is tackled by Noel McGrath of Tipperary in Sunday's game. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Sean Finn of Limerick is tackled by Noel McGrath of Tipperary in Sunday's game. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned for the Cork hurlers from it all as they prepare to head for Walsh Park next Sunday to try and keep their season alive. They'll face a Waterford team playing at home who put Cork to the sword in the league final.

Now the Cork hurlers must try and replicate the battling qualities that the footballers showed against Kerry for so long and what Tipp did to Limerick.

This time, however, the Cork hurlers must finish the job if they find themselves in a similar position, scrap all the way to the death and get the result that they so desperately require now. No matter how much a team is written-off there is always hope.

Neither the Cork footballers or the Tipp hurlers got what they wanted, they fought the good fight admirably for so long but it’s only ever about the final scoreline.

Last weekend the subs bench was key: Kerry’s David Moran, Paul Geaney and Paul Murphy making a significant difference while the Limerick subs, David Reidy, Seamus Flanagan and Conor Boylan made a telling statement too.

Of course, as a result of Tipp’s third loss in a row they are now out of contention as far as reaching the All-Ireland series is concerned, their hurling summer will be concluded on May 22. In years gone by it may not have even started by that date.

But they could still have a massive say. If Cork can overcome Waterford it will then all come down to their game against Tipp. That would be a interesting scenario.

It’s all hypothetical right now and it will be first things first for Cork at Walsh Park: get the job done.

Back to Limerick, as all great teams do, they found a way to get themselves over the line on Sunday. They'd set a precedent 12 months earlier when they came back from being 10 points in arrears against the Premier in the Munster final. Great teams have that inner belief, those battling qualities that ultimately prove decisive.

Limerick were far from their best. They made far too many uncharacteristic errors for long spells and their accuracy was way off.

Yet Limerick got the big scores when it mattered. Tom Morrissey had his best game in a while and Aaron Gillane’s ability to plunder goals has sent out a stern warning to all others seeking to knock them off their lofty perch.

However, it certainly was not the comfortable afternoon many had envisaged for John Kiely’s team. As worthy champions, they outscored Tipperary by 2-6 to 0-3 down the stretch. That told us everything.

Again they had 12 different players contributing to their tally and, now a feature of their play, scores coming from all sectors, starting in the full-back line with Barry Nash.

Tipperary put in sterling efforts against the two best teams in the land, Limerick and Waterford, without reward.

Tipperary manager Colm Bonnar was left frustrated by Limerick's strong finish. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Tipperary manager Colm Bonnar was left frustrated by Limerick's strong finish. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Effort is great if you come out on the right side of the result, otherwise, there's not much consolation.

Maybe they give hope for brighter things in the future but the future for this Tipp team is now eight months in the distance once they finish up against Cork next Sunday week.

Tipperary gave it everything last Sunday, they left it all out on the field and they certainly gave Limerick a rare bit of a fright.

But Limerick have the power, the inner belief, the flexibility across the team and the depth in their squad that is going to make it very difficult for the chasing pack.

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