A good win and an even better test for Cork as they came away from the Ragg on Saturday with full points to sit top of the Division 1A table and put them in a really strong position to reach the league final.
It was a game that Cork will really welcome after two comfortable opening games. They were pushed all the way in a hard-fought, physical game where space was limited.
Tipp’s physicality has improved considerably in recent times and their work rate was from the top drawer, particularly in the opening quarter and just after half time where they really pressurised Cork. Grace O’Brien was getting quick ball delivered in front of her and she was fastest off the mark to hit three points inside the opening 10 minutes. Added to an Eimear McGrath point Tipp led four points to two, Corks two points coming from frees from Amy O’Connor and Chloe Sigerson.
There wasn’t a puff of wind in the compact pitch that is The Ragg, so compact that all press had to stand outside the railings.
Defensively Cork settled, Libby Coppinger got tighter on O’Brien and held her scoreless for the remainder of the half. Meabh Murphy was having a fine game, Laura Treacy was left unmarked and no better person to read the game.
In the 11th minute, Cork took the lead; Laura Hayes to Saoirse McCarthy who delivered fast into Orlaith Cahalane. Cahalane turned brilliantly inside her marker and struck across keeper Caoimhe Bourke to hit the net. An Eimear McGrath free levelled the game before Cork hit a strong purple patch. Six points in a row, Amy O’Connor with two frees and a 45 and one each from play from Sorcha McCartan, Fiona Keating and Cliona Healy as Cork led 1-8 to 0-5 on 26 minutes.
Amy O’Connor had a goal chance on 16 but was brilliantly hooked and Coppinger saved on the line from an O’Brien shot on 22 as two evenly matched sides put up a strong first-half showing. Eimear McGrath drove two long-range frees right over the black spot to give Tipp a strong finish to the half, left trailing by four 1-8 to 0-7 Defensively all six Cork backs were putting in strong performances.
And they needed to be as Tipp came straight on the attack after the resumption. A McGrath free again before a snappy pass inside to Grace O’Brien saw the latter finish from close range. The sides were level. A few minutes later Amy Lee saved a strong ground shot from substitute Cait Devane as Cork’s backs now swarmed Tipp’s forwards.
It was point for point as Amy O’Connor and Roisín Howard swapped points before Cliona Healy and Caoimhe Maher did likewise, 1-10 each inside the final quarter.
The game became stop-start as a number of players from both sides received attention. A pointed long-range free from Sorcha McCartan and a good point from substitute Emma Murphy gave Cork a two-point advantage.
However, they will be disappointed with a number of long deliveries where the pass was to no Cork player and handed the advantage to Tipp. Devane pointed for Tipp. Saoirse McCarthy replied as we headed into seven minutes additional time. Another Tipp substitute Grace Moloney hit the mark leaving a point in it on 67 minutes.
Tipp needed a leveller but from the puck-out, Cork worked the ball well before Fiona Keating settled matters to give Cork a two-point win.
G O’Brien 1-3, E McGrath 0-5 (0-4 f), R Howard, C Maher, C Devane, G Moloney 0-1.
A O’Connor 0-5 (0-2 f, 0-1 45), O Cahalane 1-0, S McCartan 0-2 (0-1 f), F Keating, C Healy 0-2 each, C Sigerson (f), S McCarthy, E Murphy 0-1 each.
C Bourke; J Bourke, C Quirke, E Loughman; K Blair, K Kennedy, C Maher; T Ryan, C Hennessy; R Howard, M Eviston, C Maher; G O’Brien, E McGrath, C Ryan.
C Devane and E Heffernan for C Ryan and C Hennessy (h-t), M Bourke for C Maher (57, inj), A Fahie for E McGrath (61), G Moloney for G O’Brien (64).
A Lee; M Murphy, L Coppinger, M Cahalane; I O’Regan, L Treacy, L Hayes; H Looney, S McCarthy; C Sigerson, F Keating, C Healy; A O’Connor, O Cahalane, S McCartan.
A Healy for H Looney (40), E Murphy for C Sigerson (48)
John Dermody (Westmeath).