To mark the first ever time Cork and Tipperary meet in an All Ireland semi-final at Croke Park, it’s only fitting that this week’s Throwback Thursday takes a trip down memory lane.
We all know Munster final day is basically a national holiday these days, but the passion, skill, and excitement that accompanies it was no more evident than in the 1984 contest. It happened on Semple soil, and involved o many twists and turns that it made a roller-coaster jealous.
The Rebels snatched a dramatic victory in the end, before subsequently going on to claim Liam MacCarthy. The losing side did much to restore pride in the Premier county after a so-called ‘famine period’. You would have had to go back to 1971 to see a Premier All Ireland and Munster victory.
Tipp suffered a crushing defeat to Limerick in 1973, and failed to win a championship game thereafter. In some ways, Tipperary people felt the same way during that time as they felt earlier this year; disillusioned and frustrated. However, underage success proved that Tipp’s future was bright. On the other side, the Leesiders were looking for redemption after losing the last two finals to Kilkenny.
A win was the only option.
This was a big year for the GAA. They were celebrating 100 years, and Semple Stadium, Thurles was the proposed venue. Tipperary could not have been given a better incentive than this to return to the top table. Comparisons can be made with 2014 and 1984. The beginning of 1984 was unimpressive from a Tipperary point of view. They failed to progress in the Centenary Cup.
Cork, on the other hand, were very much the opposite when they disposed of Limerick in their championship opener, while Tipperary overcame Clare. The scene was set for an enthralling encounter, watched by 50,000 spectators.
It was physical, honest, intense and met with a wall of sound that could probably have been heard as far away as Croke Park. While the Cork forwards looked dangerous, the Tipperary midfield duo of Ralph Callaghan and Philip Kennedy were on fire.
It was thought that Tipp would suffer when Dinny Cahill had to retire with an injury, but a young lad named John Doyle gave a performance that he would make him a household name in years to come. There were times in the opening half when Tipperary were in danger of surrendering to a rampant Cork attack, but inspired by John McIntyre and Donie O’Connell, the Premier county were still well in the mix at half-time.
They would go on to dominate the second half. However, that was the end to the drama. They lost Bobby Ryan to an injury which hampered their defence. It was thought they could overcome the setback, with John McIntyre and Nicky English playing out of their skins. It was looking good as the Tipperary anxiously waited for the final whistle, however things began to go south from there on in.
Pat Hartnett began to get the upper hand in midfield. Coupled with the introduction of Tony O’Sullivan, the Rebels went for the jugular. A goal left the sides level. Then came the score that broke Tipperary hearts.
Sean O’ Leary was on hand to bat in the rebound off the Tipp goalkeepers stick. A free was added, and Cork were Munster Champions.
The loss left a lasting scar for Bobby Ryan and his colleagues for years to come. The old excuse that inexperience cost them on the day would play on Tipp supporters minds. That excuse would not be used again.
Absorbing, Nerve-tingling, heartbreak,Ecstasy. This game had everything.Let’s hope the same two counties serve up more of the same on Sunday.
Ashling Dalton, Pundit Arena.