John Horgan on hurling: Nothing matches Tipp rivalry for a Cork fan

Familiar foes could meet this spring in the knockout stages of the league ahead of the Munster championship joust in the Páirc
John Horgan on hurling: Nothing matches Tipp rivalry for a Cork fan

Michael Breen of Tipperary chases after the sliotar under pressure from Luke Meade of Cork. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

ON A week when one of their former greats was called to his eternal reward, the late and great Mick Burns, the current crop of Tipperary hurlers continue on their road to rehabilitation after a hugely disappointing 2022 season when they lost all four of their championship games in Munster.

For those of us old enough to remember, Burns was a key figure on what is generally regarded as, the greatest Tipp team of all time, a team that won four All- Ireland titles in the early 1960s.

He was a half-back of great renown in a team that contained some of the greatest players ever to grace a GAA pitch, players that still fall easily off the tongue for the generation that I grew up in.

Many tributes were paid to him on his sad passing and rightly so too because in that era the Premier County had no equal and he played a huge role in their remarkable story of success.

Cork were on the receiving end of a few severe beatings from them during their dominance of that time and it was very much a case of being second best more often than not.

But that was then and this is now, the game of hurling has changed almost beyond recognition from those days.

Many might say that the teams of that time would not hold a candle to what the current Limerick team are producing now as they go in search of the four-in-a-row.

Maybe they would, maybe not but we should still recognise the players of that long-past era when they were kings.

Anyway, on the subject of Tipperary and there are signs that they may be a more forceful team to deal with this season than they have been in the more recent past.

Cork manager Pat Ryan. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Cork manager Pat Ryan. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Similar to Cork under Pat Ryan, they are marching to a more positive tune under new boss Liam Cahill, three national league wins from three outings and a near certainty to be a semi-final participant in the secondary competition.

Of course, it’s very early days yet but two recent victories over Dublin and Kilkenny, both on away soil suggest that they are moving in the right direction.

One newspaper last Sunday described them as a promising project and for now that would seem to be the case.

Tipp and Cork operate in different divisions and they are not scheduled to collide until Cork’s second game in the Munster championship at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

However, they may yet face each other in a league semi-final or final if the current trend continues.

But it will be all about the championship when the time comes and the near certainty that the very lopsided nature of their 2022 clash in Thurles when Cork eased to victory and rendered Tipp’s season as a disaster will not be repeated.

Let’s be honest there is no greater rivalry in hurling than Cork and Tipp going at it when they are both on top of their game.

That’s down the line a bit, however, and whilst it’s a football-only weekend coming up, the current league campaign continues to provide some talking points.

Yes, the league will soon be forgotten when the championship swings into action and as Waterford found out last season, it meant very little after their championship collapse when they failed to get out of Munster.

But as the secondary competition moves along we have to focus on it and what signals are being sent out by the various counties.

High up on the standout feature list thus far has been the performance of Limerick and how contrasting their attitude this time seems to be compared to the previous season.

Last time out they won just game at the group stage against Offaly and their only other point was secured in a draw with Clare.

They lost to Cork in their opener in the current campaign but even on that occasion there were signs of a different approach. And subsequently that has been the case, taking care of business with plenty of efficiency in the rout of Clare and that’s what it was even if their winning margin was only six points.


In Salthill last Sunday they made sure that one of the counties most fancied to trouble them this year did not gain any sort of a psychological advantage over them.

Tom Morrissey and Cian Lynch banged over 11 points between them against Galway and the latter’s return alongside Peter Casey has to viwed for what it is, a massive boost.

They are still without Declan Hannon, Mike Casey and Cathal O’Neill at the moment but the depth of their panel is being illustrated again, far and away the strongest of all the counties.

With another victory over Westmeath in their next assignment very likely, they will be nicely positioned to reach the knockout stage.

Okay, it’s only the league but the portents are starting to look ominous again from one of the best teams of all time.

The most staggering result of the season to date was Clare’s absolute annihilation of Wexford in Wexford Park last Sunday, a venue that has often been a fortress for the home team.

Wexford's Simon Donohoe and David Reidy of Clare. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan
Wexford's Simon Donohoe and David Reidy of Clare. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

This was a very significant victory for Clare and an equally significant loss for Wexford who will be visiting Páirc Uí Chaoimh next Sunday week.

We spoke about reactions last week, how a team might react to a bad defeat as Clare’s was to Limerick. Well, Clare did respond in a manner that few might have envisaged and that must have delighted Brian Lohan.

Now it will be the turn of Darragh Egan’s Wexford and to see what sort of a reaction he will seek from his players on Leeside.

Yes, they were very depleted last Sunday but to have conceded 4-17 in 35 minutes of hurling has to be totally unacceptable for everyone concerned.

But on we go as the big countdown to the championship intensifies and the big calls that all the management teams have to make in their squad selection process.

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