Hopes of an historic three-in-a-row of Munster intermediate hurling titles for Tipperary were dashed by Cork at Páirc Uí Rinn on Wednesday last.
The home side proved much too strong for the reigning Munster and All-Ireland champions who had no answers on the night and the game was to all intents over as a contest at half-time.
Right from the start ‘The Rebels’ gained the upper and and a blistering start prepared the groundwork for their comfortable and emphatic victory.
A fourth minute goal from corner-forward David Drake settled them. A long ball played in to the forward line took an unusually high hop over a waiting Tipp defender and Drake was on hand to capitalise and blast past James Logue.
Four minutes later Drake repeated the dose. A delivery from midfield by Jamie Wall was gathered and again Drake gave the Tipperary goalkeeper no chance. Only eight minutes into the game, Cork were already leading 2-0 to 0-1, a free from Tony O’Brien in the fifth minute being Tipp’s only response.
Cork employed full-forward John Cronin as a third midfielder and with their half-back line on top, especially Cormac Murphy, Tipp were living on scraps around the centre of the field.
After the foundation of a tonic start the Leesiders stretched out their lead with further points from play from Michael O’Sullivan and John Cronin (2) to lead by eight points after just 18 minutes and even at this early stage the signs were ominous for Tipp.
With what possession they did win Tipperary were wasteful and hit no less than 10 first half wides, five of these inside the first 12 minutes. Cork on the other hand were picking off long range points with ease and recorded just a single first half wide.
The loss through injury of target man Bill Walsh after 27 minutes was another blow. The Carrick Swan man who had a big impact in the semi-final win over Limerick was clearly hampered by injury from the outset.
By the interval Cork led 2-6 to 0-4, a half in which Tipperary failed to score from play. All four Tipp points came from placed balls, three from Tony O’Brien of St. Patrick’s Drangan and a long range effort by Loughmore/Castleiney’s Aidan McGrath.
No doubt Tipp were in serious trouble and hopes of retaining the Sweet Afton Cup looked to have gone up in smoke by half-time.
The first ten minutes of the second emphatically confirmed the gulf in class. Cork dominated and added 1-7 without reply to lead 3-13 to 0-4 on 40 minutes. Half-time substitute Mark Sugrue reacted quickest to a ball coming down from the upright to score from an acute angle. It would be the Bandon man’s second Munster final win of the year against Tipp and both at Páirc Uí Rinn having earlier picked up and under 21 football medal in April.
To their credit Tipperary kept trying and responded with a dominant period of their own in which they scored 2-3 without reply in a nine-minute spell.
The first goal came in the 44th minute when substitute Adrian Ryan set up Michael Sheedy for a well-taken goal.
A minute later Kieran Morris, who looked lively since his introduction, netted Tipp’s second goal.
But almost immediately the wind was taken out of Tipp’s sails when Mullinahone’s Sean Curran was dismissed on 46 minutes for a straight red card offence.
A pair of 65’s by Aidan McGrath and two nice points from John Sheedy and Kevin Fox were all that Tipp could tag on in the final quarter.
The Rebels took control once again as the game neared its conclusion. Long range points from John Cronin and Colm Barry were tagged on before David Drake completed a coup de grace with his third goal in the 56th minute after Michael Walsh had played him through.
Having won provincial and All-Ireland honours over the last two years and consequently with a lesser pool to draw upon it was always going to be a difficult year for Tipp.
Despite being outclassed throughout the field, John Carroll’s side kept trying and the second half surge demonstrated a good attitude. On a night few will care to remember, the likes of Daire Quinn, Pa Ryan, Brian Stapleton, Ronan Sherlock and Joe Gallagher never gave up.
Cork: Richie Cunningham, John O’Callaghan (capt), Alan Dennehy, Barra Tuama, Colm Barry (0-1), Tadhg Healy, Cormac Murphy (0-2, 0-1F), Nicky Kelly, Michael Walsh, Jamie Wall, Peter O’Brien (0-4F), Michael O’Sullivan (0-3), Colm Casey (0-1), John Cronin (0-3), David Drake (3-0).
Subs: Mark Sugrue (1-1) for Kelly (half-time); Tomás Lawrence for O’Callaghan (50); Aidan Mannix for O’Brien (55); Ronan Crowley for Drake (58); Ross Cashman for Healy (59).
Tipperary: James Logue (Ballingarry), Daire Quinn (Nenagh Eire Og), Andrew Ryan (Toomevara), Pa Ryan (Clonakenny), Brian Stapleton (Templederry Kenyons), Ronan Sherlock (Silvermines, capt), Aidan McGrath (Loughmore/Castleiney, 0-3, 0-1F, 0-2 65s), Joe Gallagher (Kildangan), Paudie White (Clonoulty/Rossmore), Sean Curran (Mullinahone), Michael Sheedy (Portroe, 1-0), Tony O’Brien (St. Patrick’s, 0-3F), Tommy Heffernan (Nenagh Eire Og), Bill Walsh (Carrick Swan), David Collins (Drom & Inch).
Subs: Adrian Ryan (Templederry Kenyons) for Walsh (27 mins); Kieran Morris (Moycarkey/Borris, 1-0) for Heffernan (37); Denis Stapleton (Sean Treacy’s) for Andrew Ryan (41 mins); Kevin Fox (Eire Og Annacarty, 0-1) for White (44 mins); John Sheedy (Portroe, 0-1) for O’Brien (49 mins).
Referee: Declan O’Driscoll (Limerick).