The age-old rivalry between Tipperary and Cork resumes this weekend with the two set to battle it out at 2 pm on Sunday in Thurles.
The teams are entering this game in very different form with Tipp losing to Limerick in the opening round in a fairly dire display, while Cork lowered the banner with a late burst that saw them over the line in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
The Tipperary players and in particular Michael Ryan shipped a lot of criticism this week in the aftermath of the Limerick display due to the unfamiliarity of the team selected, the poor display and Ryan’s strange decision not to address the media when the game had concluded.
The premier management were forced into some of the changes made with Brendan Maher, Bonner Maher and Cathal Barrett all struggling with injuries while Seamus Callanan was deemed not fit enough to start. It was a game where Tipperary looked totally devoid of confidence scoring just five points from play and were it not for two pieces of magic from John McGrath and Jason Forde, the winning margin could have been a lot wider.
Their full back line was in trouble all day, midfield was nonexistent at times and the attack never possessed any of the conviction or quality you would associate with the Tipperary sharpshooters.
This is a must win for the 2016 All Ireland champions on Sunday if they hold any ambitions of winning the All Ireland so you can expect changes to the starting fifteen.
Cork, on the other hand, enter this game on the back of an impressive victory over Clare and will fancy their chances this Sunday.
The rebels survived an early siege and won the game with a blitz in the last ten minutes outscoring the banner by 1-05 to 0-03. Cork’s defense looked as tight as it has in years with the debutant Sean O’ Donoghue excelling in the corner while Coleman, Ellis and Cahalane all won their personal duals. Darragh Fitzgibbon was outstanding in midfield while Patrick Horgan, Conor Lehane and Seamus Harnedy were exceptional in attack.
The Lee-siders will have to prepare for this game without Robbie O’ Flynn and Alan Cadogan of course, with both being ruled out for the Munster campaign.
This is a huge opportunity for Cork to seriously dent one of their rival’s chances of progressing and one that can’t be missed. They are mentally in a better place than Tipperary but as we all know a wounded animal is a very dangerous one. In what is an unbelievably difficult game to predict, Cork will get the nod with the pace and quality they possess in attack.
Odds: Tipperary 8/13 Draw 9/1 Cork 13/8
Ray Brennan, Pundit Arena