Cork scraped past Tipperary by a single point today in the Munster SFC semi-final, just as they did against Waterford at the quarter-final stage in their last outing. While there is much to work on for the Leeside footballers before taking on Clare or Kerry in the provincial decider, they are there.
If the Kingdom are to come out on top tomorrow in Ennis, as they are heavily tipped to do, a July 2nd date in the new Pairc Uí Chaoimh will be set.
Here are five major talkiong points from today’s semi-final at Pairc Uí Rinn:
Cork manager, Peadar Healy made three changes to the team that was named to start in the match programme before throw-in. Rebels stalwart and this year’s vice-captain, Mark Collins was replaced by Nemo Rangers’ Luke Connolly at centre forward. Brian O’Driscoll came in at corner back in place of Stephen Cronin, where as at midfield, Ian Maguire replaced Kevin O’Driscoll.
This could be viewed as a statement of intent by the Cork management before a ball had even been kicked this afternoon, following the lucky escape after a lacklustre performance away to Waterford in their championship opener the last day out.
Failure To Capitalise On Chances
Both teams were guilty of a plethora of first half wides, neither Tipp nor Cork’s radars fully tuned in.
The Rebels had two glorious opportunities to open up a healthy lead early on in the game. Colm O’Neill had an effort from around ten yards out blocked off by a last ditch attempt, stopping a shot which was certain to rattle the back of the net.
It was the turn of Cork skipper, Paul Kerrigan next. The Nemo forward went on a mazy run, his blistering pace setting him free of the Tipp defence. With just the goalkeeper between himself and a green flag, Kerrigan failed to hit the target, smashing the ball wide at the left hand side.
Had these chances been converted, Healy’s side may have settled easier into the game and played with more conviction throughout, something they clearly lacked.
Tipp star man, Michael Quinlavin, suffered what appeared to be a serious leg injury around the 15 minute mark of the game. There was immediate cause for concern as the Clonmel Commercials man rolled around the Pairc Uí Rinn turf clear agony.
Stretchered off to a rousing applause, The Premier’s task of overcoming Cork on their home patch was just made a hell of a lot more difficult with the withdrawal of their marquee forward.
The loss of Quinlavin would prove costly as his teammates wilted without his class to assist their hard graft as the game wore on.
After registering just a solitary point in the first half, and taking 39 minutes to get their next score, a second half Kerrigan white flag, things were looking ominous for the Leesiders.
The lack of quality and clueless nature of their approach was evident for all at Pairc Uí Rinn to see in the opening period of the game.
On the other hand, Conor Sweeney played out of his skin for Liam Kearns’ outfit, being awarded the man of the match award and deservedly so. The Tipp number 13 displayed class and composure every time he had possession.
At half-time the scoreline read 0-04 to 0-01.
Cork A New Team In The Second Half
The experienced old guard of Kerrigan and Donnacha O’Connor as well as Mark Collins, when introduced, blended with the fearless youth of Connolly up front dragged Cork back into it as the second half sprung into life.
Finally, some long overdue quality football action was on display.
In addition, Ian Maguire came of age in the middle of the field for Cork, grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck. These bursts into form along with the introduction of Seanie Powter swung the game into Cork’s favour.
Tipp grew tired as the game wore on and the Rebels built momentum and grew in confidence with every passing minute.
Next up for Cork is a Munster final date with either Kerry or Clare on July 2nd. Peadar Healy, his backroom team and the Rebel players themselves will be the first to know that a drastic improvement in performance is needed to come anywhere near what would be their first provincial championship since 2012.
For Tipperary, it is the back door qualifiers with a severely depleted squad through injuries and suspensions.