Cork and Tipperary went toe to toe in Croke Park for a place in next month’s All-Ireland showdown against Kilkenny. The minor game saw Limerick square off against Galway. Here, John Ivory ranks the top five players from the weekend’s action.
1. Padraic Maher – Tipperary
In his best position, Maher showed on Sunday why he is regarded as one of the best defenders in the game. He was simply superb under the high ball and used possession extremely well. He won an abundance of tough ball in defence and used his considerable strength to burst out and send Tipp on their way. The Premier men will be needing another star performance from the Thurles man against Kilkenny in September.
2. Seamus Callanan – Tipperary
Callanan’s fantastic scoring exploits were on show in Croke Park for all to see and he led the Tipperary attack into the All-Ireland final in clinical fashion. His capabilities under the high ball caused pandemonium in the Cork full back line and he capitalised in stunning style, helping himself to 2-3 from play, and 0-1 from a free. John, ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer was also in imperious form, notching up a cool, 0-6 against a lethargic Rebel defence.
3. Ronan Lynch – Limerick Minors
The display Lynch put in for the Limerick Minors against Galway was nothing short of top class. From midfield, he orchestrated the demolition job of Galway. From hassling his opponents into turnovers, to playing short, sensible passes to better placed teammates, most of what Lynch did was perfect. His free taking prowess was jaw-dropping, often having about 30 metres to spare as the ball sailed over the bar from way out. Finished with 0-13, one for the future.
4. Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher – Tipperary
Not for the first time, Bonner finds himself on this list. He is Tipperary’s Mr Consistency and he did his bit again yesterday. His work ethic is incredibly and he never seems to tire. His direct running was evident throughout Sunday’s semi-final. He may not get on the score sheet as often as other forwards, but he is the direct cause of a number of their scores, such is the havoc is wreaks in defences.
5. Conor Lehane – Cork
On a day when nothing went right for Cork, Lehane was one of the few positives. He gave as good as he got and managed to strike over 0-4 from play. He never gave up on a day when doing so was the easier option. Tipperary’s defence got on top but Lehane still had a good showing. Daniel Kearney worked hard around the middle, and Anthony Nash had a decent outing. Cork will no doubt have better days.
John ivory, Pundit Arena.