INHALE and breathe, after what was simply a superb game down the Páirc.
This was always going to be a tougher encounter than last week when Cork took on a deflated Waterford side. Tipp came to town in top form and would have had no fear in facing the Rebels.
A draw was probably a fair result and a result that on several occasions Cork would have taken.
No matter what they did, they never seemed to be able to shake off Tipp and every time they got their noses in front Tipp came back with some superb scores to either retake the lead or at least draw level. But early on it was probably Tipp who would have been the ones happy to take a draw.
To the credit of both sides, it was packed with intensity, physicality, and some sublime scores.
From Cork’s point of view, if Carlsberg could have done starts, then their catchphrase ‘probably’ would certainly have applied to the Rebels. They raced into a four-point lead and in reality, they should have been further ahead.
Along with raising one green flag they had opportunities to score two more through Patrick Horgan and Brian Roche and had they gone in, it probably would have been game over, even at that early juncture. But while good starts are great and can set you up, you then can’t let your opponents get a foothold in the proceedings.
Of course Tipp, in Liam Cahill, have a shrewd man on the sideline. For 20 minutes, Tipp dominated. They hit 10 points to Cork’s one and were starting to win the dirty ball in a rammed middle third.
Then, a sight that had the Cork fans off their seats as Robbie O’Flynn burst past the Tipp defence to find the back of the net. However, that massive cheer was followed by despair as he went off injured.
Shane Kingston replaced him and he raised another cheer, but his point effort was ruled out harshly for too many steps.
Instead, Tipp raised a white flag at the other end to see the Rebels two behind at half-time rather than level.
The first half was gripping but there will be several areas that Cork manager Pat Ryan will study closely before their clash with Clare.
On far too many occasions Tipp were able to play the ball from one side of the pitch to the other with a free player at the end of it, which led to many of their scores.
It seemed to be a tactic that Tipp had planned and perhaps had seen a weakness in Cork’s set-up.
Defensively Cork are getting better all the time and in Ciarán Joyce they simply have one of the best hurlers in the game at the moment.
His reading of the game is second to none and, have no doubt, he will go on to captain the Rebels in the near future.
To see him pluck the sliotar out of the air is a sight that raised a Rebel roar every time as he denied Tipp opportunities to raise a flag.
However, at the other end Cork need to be winning more of the aerial duels, an area there is room for improvement in.
But once again the Cork spirit driven on by the Rebel roar showed there is something special building with this bunch of players.
Yes, they will be disappointed not to have won, but they can take a lot of positives and confidence from the spirit they showed and it’s all to play for against Clare.