Cork Hurling Talking Points: Grit and a goal threat offer Rebel fans hope

Éamonn Murphy reflects on Cork's comeback win over Tipperary at Páirc Uí Rinn
Cork Hurling Talking Points: Grit and a goal threat offer Rebel fans hope

Cork's Tommy O'Connell is tackled by Tipperary's Dan McCormack during the Co-Op Superstores Munster SHL final at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

IT wasn't quite up there with Arsenal's dramatic winner against Man United but Cork's rally to deny Tipp the Munster Hurling League thrilled the Leeside faithful at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday.

Down by eight, Pat Ryan's side prevailed by one, a pretty sweet January boost regardless of the competition's status as a preseason excursion.

Cork captain Sean O'Donoghue raises the trophy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork captain Sean O'Donoghue raises the trophy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

GRIT: 

The situation was grim for the hosts until Brian Hayes' goal and some timely subs sparked a bit of life into the Rebels. After a fast start and a neat Patrick Horgan goal, Cork struggled to turn possession into scores. Tipp had more standout performers and seemed bankers to leave Leeside with the trophy.

Conor Lehane and Jack O'Connor excelled as impact subs and Brian Roche arrowed over a beautiful late point but Cork's comeback was built on hard work in the middle third and improved tackling between the 45 and midfield. 

Rob Downey was immense in the last 10 minutes, securing three crucial possessions, one of which resulted in a Horgan free while Sean O'Donoghue and Damien Cahalane made some vital interceptions. Horgan and Declan Dalton hounded the Tipp backs late on.

That effort translated into match-winning scores.

GOAL THREAT:

Cork went route one regularly in the first half and caused the Tipp full-backs issues throughout even if some of the deliveries were too wide for an inside line operating around the D. 

Tipp's Podge Campion wins the possession from Cork's Patrick Horgan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Tipp's Podge Campion wins the possession from Cork's Patrick Horgan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Horgan netted after Dalton made the sliotar stick while rookie Colin Walsh was unlucky not to turn possession into points.

Only an excellent block prevented Walsh from goaling early in the second half and the decisive goals were cleverly engineered, Hayes batting home after Roche made ground and Jack O'Connor firing low from a lovely Lehane stick pass.

Cork's most reliable goal-scorers last year Shane Kingston and Alan Connolly are currently out injured but when everyone is available there will be multiple threats.

LEAGUE PROSPECTS:

Winning the preseason tournament was ideal preparation but the next step for the young hurlers that featured is to prove themselves in the league proper. Limerick at a packed Páirc on Saturday week we'll learn a bit more.

Defensively, Conor O'Callaghan and Seán O'Leary Hayes were impressive in their corner-back deployments against Limerick and Tipp respectively, while wing-back Cathal Cormack is in the mix, having started both games. 

At midfield, Tommy O'Connell, Brian O'Sullivan, Sam Quirke and Brian Roche have featured as potential partners for Darragh Fitzgibbon, when he returns from injury. Roche's last-quarter showing n the Tipp win was especially notable.

There are a host of attacking options, with Hayes certain to get significant game-time after his switch from the football squad. He's a goal threat inside and aerial outlet on the flanks. 

That bit of heft is what makes Dalton and Sean Twomey important squad members too.

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