Allianz National Hurling League: Tipperary 2-27 Cork 2-15
All the good work of last week’s encouraging performance against Kilkenny was undone as Cork succumbed to a heavy defeat from Tipperary in Thurles today. A twelve-point loss putting the Leesiders back to square one as they prepare to face Galway in a relegation play-off to determine who’ll be hurling in Division 1B next spring.
The start of the game told a different story however – the opening ten minutes had the sides level at 0-4 apiece. Two early Patrick Horgan frees plus a point each from Luke O’Farrell and Conor Lehane getting the Rebels off to a good start. Bubbles’ O’Dwyer soon began to find his range on the frees for Tipp – he’d knock over nine of them throughout the game.
The sheer superiority of the Tipp forwards began to shine through as the game settled down. Their accuracy was letting them down though, with eight wides in the first-half. But Michael Breen at midfield wasn’t having any problems finding the posts, raising four white flags in the first-half alone in a powerful performance from the Ballina man.
Cork were lucky to be only three behind at the break – 0-13 to 0-10, after a mediocre opening period performance. Clearances coming in from out the field gave the Cork forwards no advantage. The Tipp defence were on top, James Barry in particular at full-back.
The introduction of Seámus Callanan at half-time evoked a massive cheer from the Tipp faithful, his welcome didn’t appear so cordial in the Cork full-back line however. Referee Paud O’Dwyer having to end a scrap there before he resumed the game.
Unfortunately for Cork fans and neutrals alike, the scrap was the last we saw of any real fight from Cork for the afternoon. Tipp went into overdrive; scoring 1-6 in the opening fifteen minutes of the second-half compared to Cork’s paltry two points. Three points of that scoring burst came from the marksmanship of Bubbles O’Dwyer, one each from Breen and sub Dan McCormack, with the under-firing Noel McGrath notching the other. The goal coming through Niall O’Meara; who drove his shot beyond Patrick Collins in the Cork goal.
Callanan made his mark with two points on 53 minutes, after spurning three goal chances since he came on – consider how scary the scoreline would be if he converted them. 1-21 to 0-12 saw the game over as a contest.
Horgan goaled on 56 minutes to try and add some respectability to the scoreline, but O’Dwyer extended the margin again soon afterwards. Goal number two for Tipp coming through Michael Breen after 64 minutes. Sub Paudie O’Sullivan quickly responded for Cork a minute later, coming in from the left to strike a goal of his own but two more Tipp points from the impressive John McGrath and McCormack again saw the game finish 2-27 to 2-15 in favour of the home side. Tipperary progress on to a league quarter-final meeting with Clare, the Premier County looking well set for their Munster Championship game against Cork on May 22nd.
Hurling fans in the Rebel County should have their psychiatrist bills at least partially subsidised by the Cork County Board at this stage. Sure they still managed to rack-up 2-15 today but there’s no point in only beginning to show heart and desire when you’re already losing by a cricket score.
The defence cannot really be faulted, they coped reasonably well with a very lively Tipp forward sextet. Conor O’Sullivan in particular looked comfortable in the Cork full-back line. The forwards on the other hand were completely swamped out, the absence of Seámus Harnedy having a huge impact.
Whatever happens in the relegation play-off, Cork have to find consistency, not just in performance but in intensity.