One of the fiercest hurling rivalries will reignite this evening when Tipperary meet Cork in the Bord Gáis Munster U20 final in Semple Stadium.
While this is the first year of the newly restructured grade, the teams played out two memorable results last year, though for very different reasons.
Cork and Tipperary met in the provincial U21 decider and what transpired was an almost freak result, as the Rebels strolled to a 13-point win in what was a complete no-show from Liam Cahill’s side.
However, to many people’s surprise, Tipperary overturned that result when the side’s met in the All Ireland final and beat Cork by three points to win their first U21 title since 2010.
Jake Morris was the key man for the Premier County that day, scoring 1-4 and maintains that it was their work rate that proved the major difference from their first meeting.
“You learn a lot from a big defeat like that. Liam [Cahill] made seven or eight changes after that and completely freshened up the team. We came out then and beat a good Galway team and got the momentum going again.
“We faced Cork in the final and it was just a funny game, we worked hard and we wanted it more and we got the result on the day. There’s no question that they had an unbelievably talented squad but if you don’t work for it, you won’t get anything easy off us. It was a nice win on the back of a poor year with the seniors, that was important.”
With the change in age-grade, both Cork and Tipperary have lost many of their stars from last year, yet that hunger and rivalry are just as strong. Being one of the few remaining from last year’s comprehensive defeat, Morris is determined not to let history repeat itself.
“We won’t need much motivation going into it. Tipp and Cork is a massive rival game. Two years ago at minor as well they beat us in the replay with this same team so that hurt us and last year was certainly an awakening for some of us getting a fair trimming down in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
“The hurt is there and we’ll try and use it as motivation to get the win”, Morris stated at the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-20 Provincial Championship Finals preview.
Though only 20, Morris’ career could have panned out quite differently had he not prioritised GAA over soccer while still at minor level.
His best friend, Barry Coffey, is currently part of the set-up at Celtic FC and on Sunday, scored the winning goal for the Ireland U19s side that saw them into the semi-finals of the European Championships against Portugal.
While opportunities arose to pursue soccer professionally, Morris insists that he is delighted with his decision to stick with hurling.
“When I was 13 or 14 I was 50/50 and even until I was 17 I was close to going either way. It was actually the year we won the All-Ireland minor I was playing soccer right up until the Munster final. We won the National Cup medal in May that year and that’s when I stopped.
My head was close to going either way, I was very close to giving up hurling and pursuing a soccer career but I’m delighted I didn’t because there’s no better feeling than winning an All-Ireland medal in Croke Park. I’ve won one of them (minor) and an U21 one, so I’m mad to get my hands on a senior one now.
“I played soccer all my underage and I loved it, but it just doesn’t have what hurling has – the atmosphere and it’s just a brilliant game. So I was delighted with my decision.”
“[Barry] is flying it. It’s a hard thing to do at 16 – pack up and move over to Glasgow. It took him a year or two to settle in over there but he’s settled in now and I’d say he’ll try and push onto the first team and maybe get a few appearances this season.”
Throw-in at Semple Stadium in the Bord Gáis U20 Munster final is 7.30pm and the game will be broadcast live on TG4.