Cork v Tipp: Rebels on song as third place in Munster championship secured

Clash with Antrim or Kerry awaits as Cork qualify for knockout stage of championship
Cork v Tipp: Rebels on song as third place in Munster championship secured

Alan Connolly celebrates scoring Cork's first goal in Sunday's Munster SHC win over Tipperary at FBD Semple Stadium. Picture: George Tewkesbury/Sportsfile

Tipperary 1-24 Cork 3-30

CORK will face either Antrim or Kerry in the All-Ireland hurling preliminary quarter-finals after they secured the win needed against Tipperary at FBD Semple Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

While the victory to secure third place – and confirm the wooden spoon for Tipp after four defeats – was comfortable in the end, there were more than a few doubts in the opening stages.

Tipp enjoyed a dream start before an attendance of 27,131, boosted by the All-Ireland U20 final between Kilkenny and Limerick. A goal inside 40 seconds from Jake Morris put Cork on the back foot and points followed from Noel McGrath (two frees) and Jason Forde.

Though Cork did get off the mark, Tipp midfielder Conor Stakelum made it 1-4 to 0-3 for Colm Bonnar’s side in the tenth minute and then they won a penalty when Cork full-back Robert Downey was punished for grappling with Mark Kehoe under a dropping ball. Had McGrath netted from the 20m line, the hosts would have had a seven-point advantage – the minimum they needed to advance, coupled with a Clare triumph over Waterford in Ennis – but his shot came back off the post. Within a minute, Alan Connolly had the ball in the Tipp net and Cork drove on from there. By half-time, they were 2-14 to 1-9 to the good and there was never any doubting that they would get the win to secure a qualification that looked so dicey after earlier losses to Limerick and Clare.

Conor Lehane was outstanding, finishing with eight points to his name, seven from play – reminiscent of his ten-point in the win over Tipp at the venue in 2017 – with Downey, Ciarán Joyce and captain Mark Coleman strong in defence. Ultimately, it was a solid all-round display once the slow start had been overcome, building on the performance against Waterford a week previously. With a three-week gap to a clash against the Joe McDonagh Cup winners, they should overcome that hurdle, ready for a tilt against the Leinster final losers in the quarter-finals proper.

The fatalistic may ponder what might have transpired if McGrath had nailed that penalty, but Cork made the most of the breaks that came their way. That was manifested most clearly as the ball came back off the post. The danger was cleared as far as Niall O’Leary, whose delivery allowed Robbie O’Flynn to send a one-handed pass to Connolly. Though he was being fouled, referee Seán Stack allowed him the advantage and he made the most it, firing past Barry Hogan.

Lehane had Cork level and O’Flynn put them ahead, Coleman with superb assists for both, before Darragh Fitzgibbon claimed a loose ball at midfield and drove forward before raising Cork’s second green flag.

While Noel McGrath replied with a Tipp free, Cork had eight of the next nine points with Lehane shining as Shane Kingston and Patrick Horgan were also among the scores. Though Tipp had the final three scores of the half, an eight-point lead for Cork at the break was not going to be surmounted and Cork ensured that there was no home surge in the third quarter.

Cork's Shane Kingston (centre) and Mark Coleman try to get the better of Tipperary's Dillon Quirke. Picture: Inpho/Laszlo Geczo
Cork's Shane Kingston (centre) and Mark Coleman try to get the better of Tipperary's Dillon Quirke. Picture: Inpho/Laszlo Geczo

Coleman landed three long-range scores as Lehane continued to be a magnet for the ball – he was unlucky with a goal effort soon after the restart – and things got worse as Tipp sub Alan Flynn was red-carded for striking the Middleton man with his hurley in an off-the-ball incident.

Cork had a third goal on 63 and it exemplified the confidence flowing through the team as sub Tommy O’Connell sent a lovely ball towards Fitzgibbon on the left and his ball across was stroked in by sub Tim O’Mahony.

Noel McGrath continued to send over Tipp frees, finishing with 13 points, but the concession of same was a sign that Cork weren’t to be allowing any cheap goal chances. Jack O’Connor had two points after his introduction, exorcising some of the ghosts of the Clare game, while Kingston and Harnedy capped good displays with late scores as Cork eased clear.

Scorers for Tipperary: N McGrath 0-13 (0-12 f), J Forde 0-5, J Morris 1-2, R Maher (0-1 f), D Quirke, C Stakelum, P Maher 0-1 each.

Cork: C Lehane 0-8 (0-1 f), P Horgan 0-5 (0-3 f, 0-1 65), S Kingston 0-4, A Connolly, T O’Mahony 1-1 each, M Coleman (0-1 f), S Harnedy, R O’Flynn 0-3 each, J O’Connor 0-2, D Fitzgibbon 1-0.

TIPPERARY: B Hogan; C Morgan, R Maher, C Barrett; D Quirke, S Kennedy, B Heffernan; C Stakelum, D McCormack; M Breen, N McGrath, G Browne; J Forde, M Kehoe, J Morris.

Subs: A Flynn for Heffernan, P Maher for Browne (both half-time), J Quigley for Barrett (40, injured), C Bowe for Breen (47), G O'Connor for McCormack (69).

CORK: P Collins (Ballinhassig); S O’Donoghue (Inniscarra), R Downey (Glen Rovers), D Cahalane (St Finbarr’s); N O’Leary (Castlelyons), C Joyce (Castlemartyr), M Coleman (Blarney); D Fitzgibbon (Charleville), L Meade (Newcestown); R O’Flynn (Erin’s Own), S Harnedy (St Ita’s), S Kingston (Douglas); C Lehane (Midleton), P Horgan (Glen Rovers), A Connolly (Blackrock).

Subs: T O'Mahony (Newtownshandrum) for Horgan (44), T O'Connell (Midleton) for Meade (57), J O'Connor (Sarsfields) for O'Flynn (60), G Millerick (Fr O'Neills) for Downey, S Barrett (Blarney) for Lehane (both 66).

Referee: S Stack (Dublin).

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