CORK claimed the Co-op SuperStores Munster Hurling League title for the first time since 2017 after a late surge gave them victory over Tipperary at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday.
The home side trailed by eight points with 18 minutes left and, even when Patrick Horgan’s fourth point was followed by a goal from sub Brian Hayes, two points from Tipp’s Jason Forde looked to have quelled the fightback.
However, Tipp would add just one more point, Forde’s 14th of the day, as Cork scored 1-5 in the last four minutes plus stoppages, Jack O’Connor with an important 1-1 after his introduction.
A crowd of 4,727 was in Páirc Uí Rinn – slightly down on the 5,128 that witnessed the semi-final win over Limerick at the same venue at week previously – and they saw a game that could be classed as typical January fare. There were some bright moments which stood out and endeavour that wasn’t always joined with quality, before the exciting finish that raised the noise levels.
For Cork, the long scoreless period in the middle third of the game will be a concern, even allowing of the fact that first-choice attackers were absent, but the attitude shown will have heartened the management.
While Tipperary’s Brian McGrath had the opening score inside 20 seconds, Cork produced a strong response as goalkeeper Patrick Collins landed a long-range free before they scored a fifth-minute goal.
When Collins went long with a delivery, Declan Dalton claimed for possession and went for goal – while Rhys Shelly saved from him, Patrick Horgan was there to turn the loose ball home. Further frees from Horgan and Collins opened up a five-point advantage but Cork were unable to build on that.
A pair of Jason Forde points, the latter whizzing just over the crossbar, had Tipp back to within a score and, though Tommy O’Connell set up midfield partner Brian Roche to put Cork 1-4 to 0-3 ahead in the 12th minute, the Rebels added just two more points in the remaining 23 minutes of the first half.
In contrast, Tipp added 1-6 to their tally, even allowing for some poor efforts from dead balls. They were level by the 26th minute at 1-6 each as McGrath’s good ball from deep was claimed by Seán Ryan, who exchanged passes with Conor Stakelum before sending a shot past Collins. Two Forde frees sandwiched a Conor Bowe point that might have been a goal as they eased clear for a 1-9 to 1-6 interval advantage.
On the resumption, a similar scoring pattern pertained as Forde continued to add to his and Tipp’s output, landing two fine points from distance as they opened up a six-point lead by the 43rd minute.
Cork’s drought made it to the 25-minute mark – Collins and Dalton joined Horgan in registering wides from frees – before it finally came to an end on 46. Seán Twomey profited from a well-placed Robbie O’Flynn pass after a Luke Meade turnover and then Horgan converted a free to bring the deficit back to four, 1-12 to 1-8, but Tipp pressed on again.
They had the next four points to move eight clear, before Horgan’s fourth point cut the lead and then Brian Roche’s driving run the catalyst for sub Hayes to mark his arrival with a clever batted finish.
O’Connor’s goal, set up by fellow sub Conor Lehane on 68, left Cork two behind and O’Connor, Roche and Horgan had points to move them in front. Forde levelled but Horgan was on hand to score the winner after O’Connor was fouled.
Cork will now look to bring their momentum into the Allianz Hurling League, which begins with a home tie against Limerick on Saturday, February 4.
P Horgan 1-6 (0-6 f), J O’Connor 1-1, B Hayes 1-0, B Roche, P Collins (f) 0-2 each, S Twomey, R O’Flynn, C Lehane 0-1 each.
J Forde 0-14 (0-9 f), S Ryan 1-0, B McGrath, C Stakelum, S Kennedy, C Bowe, C O’Dwyer 0-1 each.
P Collins (Ballinhassig); R Downey (Glen Rovers), S O’Leary Hayes (Midleton), S O’Donoghue (Inniscarra); C Cormack (Blackrock), N O’Leary (Castlelyons), D Cahalane (St Finbarr’s); T O’Connell (Midleton), B Roche (Bride Rovers); S Twomey (Courcey Rovers), R O’Flynn (Erin’s Own), L Meade (Newcestown); P Horgan (Glen Rovers), C Walsh (Kanturk), D Dalton (Fr O’Neills).
B O’Sullivan (Kanturk) for O’Connell, B Hayes (St Finbarr’s) for Walsh (both 48), J O’Connor for Twomey (52), C Lehane (Midleton) for O’Flynn (59), S Barrett (Blarney) for Meade (64).
R Shelly; M Breen, C McCarthy, C Barrett; E Heffernan, P Campion, B McGrath; D McCormack, C Stakelum; S Kennedy, J Forde, C O’Dwyer; C Bowe, P Maher, S Ryan.
G Ryan for McCarthy (31, injured), G Browne for Bowe (52), G O’Connor for Kennedy, J McGrath for Maher (both 57), N McGrath for O’Dwyer (64), J Kelly for S Ryan (65), J Ryan for Stakelum (67).
E Stapleton (Limerick).