Cork's subs and heart saved a lost cause against Tipp but lessons must be learned

Pat Ryan's side might have salvaged a point in Páirc Uí Choaimh but it only gets tougher in the next game, on the road to Clare
Cork's subs and heart saved a lost cause against Tipp but lessons must be learned

Cork super-sub Shane Kingston runs at Michael Breen of Tipperary. Picture: INPHO/Ben Brady

SATURDAY night’s thrilling Munster championship clash with Tipperary definitely felt like a point gained rather than a point lost for Cork, as the Rebels rescued the lively encounter with a brilliant late flurry.

When Tipp had knocked over three in a row from the 52nd to the 55th minute to go five points up it looked to be curtains for Cork. And despite the fact they were in trouble in a number of areas on the pitch, the comeback was exceptional, especially when you consider that they had to do it twice.

From the 58th minute on Cork outscored their opponents by 2-7 to 1-5, although when Mark Kehoe goaled in the 66th minute it looked to be all over. In fact, even before that, when two extremely cheap turnovers led to two points in a matter of seconds in the 62nd minute you sensed that there was no way back.

Then Fitzgibbon raised a green flag within 60 seconds of those scores to breathe new life into the Cork charge.

The hosts started like a house on fire, creating three goal opportunities inside the opening five minutes, with the impressive Declan Dalton nailing the third of them with an expertly batted finish. The Fr O’Neill’s man is often slated for not having the speed for inter-county. Well, if he’s not fast enough, then the Tipperary defenders he left for dead need to pack it in.

One-three to 0-2 after seven minutes, all was good in the world. Then came a bizarre fade out that threatened to scupper Cork’s championship ambitions.

The Dalton goal seemed to act as a lullaby to the Rebels, while it served to wake Tipp from their slumber. 

When Patrick Horgan slotted over in the 31st minute it was only Cork’s third point in 24 minutes. In that period, the Premier had rifled over 11.

One of the main reasons for this dominance was that Cork seriously struggled to secure any of their own long puck-outs. Last week against Waterford possession came easy from Patrick Collins' lengthy deliveries, but here every ball was hard won.


Another major reason for Tipperary’s dominance in this period was how easily they were winning the midfield battle. Cork were being completely overrun, with Seamus Kennedy seemingly having the freedom of the right wing to rifle over two long-range points and set up lots of attacks, while Noel McGrath was spraying ball all around Páirc Uí Chaoimh at his leisure.

Alan Tynan was getting on a world of ball as well, with the former Munster rugby man slotting three points in a Man of the Match performance. It was a huge shock for the likes of Brian Roche and Darragh Fitzgibbon, considering how well they lorded it six days ago against Waterford.

Losing Robbie O’Flynn to injury, in the act of scoring that crucial and brilliant 34th-minute solo goal, was a cruel blow to Cork, and could have serious repercussions later in the championship for Pat Ryan’s side, but Tipperary losing Jason Forde in the 16th minute was equally as important. Gearóid O’Connor deputised and knocked over three placed balls after, but he also missed two scoreable ones in the second half, and John McGrath mis-queued another that you suspect Forde would not have.

Gearoid O'Connor of Tipperary in action against Robert Downey of Cork. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Gearoid O'Connor of Tipperary in action against Robert Downey of Cork. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Everyone was worried about the Tipperary goal threat coming into this, but it worked out the other way around. Cork ended up with six excellent goal-scoring opportunities to Tipp’s three, with Cork obviously taking four of those and Liam Cahill’s side burying two of theirs.

While a lot went wrong on the night from Pat Ryan’s perspective the one thing he can take as a positive was the wonderful impact that his substitutions had on proceedings. 

The game was really getting away from Cork, so the replacements had to make their presence felt, and they did.

Shane Kingston stormed into the game in the second half, scoring three points and having that wonderful assist for Brian Hayes’ late effort, while Conor Lehane made an instant impact with a superb 47th-minute point and followed up with an excellent assist for a Darragh Fitzgibbon point in the 58th minute before going on to assist the Charleville ace for a crucial goal five minutes later.

Hayes, with his goal, and Tim O’Mahony with a great point and a number of other big possessions also impacted greatly, meaning Ryan will have something to think about when selecting a starting line-up for the trip to Ennis.

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