The loss of the mercurial Lar Corbett in such a high stakes game, when the Sarsfields man was in the frame of mind to take on Kilkenny in such an intimidating arena, was a massive blow to Tipperary and their survival in the championship.
From the very start it looked like Corbett was in the zone, out in front of his man, showing for the ball and willing to make runs to create space for others and give colleagues options.
He was just focussed on the job in hand and the role he was expected to play. There were none of the mind games, none of the histrionics of last year’s All-Ireland semi final defeat. He set the tone in the opening exchanges coming from behind to dispossess Paul Murphy who had won the first ball and his contribution was a massive one in the twenty eight minutes he was on the pitch. He was fouled for Tipp’s first point as a result of his desire to be out in front and he showed all his trademark instinctive brilliance to take a goal to put Tipperary in a strong position with a four point lead after just fourteen minutes. Corbett reacted the quickest when John O’Dwyer’s shot was deflected. He failed to catch the ball but when it fell he adjusted his feet quickly before finding his slot in the net in a wonderful piece of improvisation. As he did throughout the first half Corbett worked hard and it was on one of many diagonal runs in a chase for possession that Corbett pulled up and everybody in the ground realised it was the end of his game and just how big a moment it was.
It was unsporting of Kilkenny supporters to cheer at his misfortune and such despicable behaviour left a sour taste. Corbett’s loss was a significant blow but manager Eamon O’Shea did not want it used as an excuse.
“Lar was really going well. It was a big blow. Lar was out in front looking for the ball before he went off. I don’t want to use excuses when you come off the field. and you are beaten, you are beaten. Things happen in games, he got injured and we could not finish it out but I certainly would not be using it as an excuse, ” he said.