Cadbury Munster Under-21
Football Championship Final
Cork 1-18 Tipperary 3-8
Tipperary fought like tigers at Páirc Uí Rinn on Wednesday night, but struggled to match the quality of a Cork side who deserved to win by a far more comfortable margin.
The enduring appeal of this Tipperary side was that they battled gamely and clung on thanks to goals from Steven O’Brien, Colman Kennedy and Greg Henry, but the home side were just too good on this occasion.
The fact that Cork celebrated this victory so raucously probably illustrates the respect Tipperary juvenile teams have now generated for themselves amongst the established footballing counties.
The Rebels were outstanding in the opening half - Cork erected a barrier in the middle third of the field, engaged the Tipperary ball carrier with multiple tacklers at the earliest opportunity, worked hard to turn the ball over and then raced forward into acres of room in the Premier half of the field.
Tipperary started well with Liam McGrath winning a smashing turnover ball before Greg Henry kicked the opening point of the game in the second minute.
Cork wing-back Kevin Crowley levelled matters in the fourth minute before the Rebels took the lead for the first time in the fifth when Dan McEoin booted over a fine score. Almost immediately Liam McGrath was fouled for a free which Michael Quinlivan converted to tie the scores at 0-2 apiece.
Tipperary corner-forward Seán Flynn enjoyed a glimpse of goal in the seventh minute, but the Fr Sheedy’s man fired wide before Cork embarked on a five-point scoring surge.
A fine move culminated when Brian O’Driscoll kicked Cork back into the lead before a Mark Sugrue free added to the home side’s tally. Two points from Kevin Crowley brought the un-tracked wing-back’s tally to three points from play by the 12th minute and the Rebels now led 0-6 to 0-2.
An enterprising run from Tipperary’s Bill Maher was expertly swallowed up in the 15th minute, the Kilsheelan-Kilcash man was then turned over, Cork counter-attacked into the space vacated by the wing-back and Alan Cadogan helped himself to an easy finish.
Tipperary moved Michael Quinlivan out into the middle third of the field in order to address the prevailing pattern of the game. Indeed, the Clonmel man got Tipperary going once more with a point in the 16th minute.
Cork added to their tally through Alan Cadogan and Dan McEoin (free) to lead 0-9 to 0-3 by the 23rd minute. In the 24th Cork turned over Tipperary once more in expert fashion and poured forward. A flowing move saw Dan McEoin lay off to Brian O’Driscoll who fired over from close range - the quality of this move probably deserved to be capped with a three-pointer.
Trailing by seven points Tipperary needed a little encouragement and found it in the 26th minute when Colman Kennedy (introduced as a substitute in the 25th minute) played a smashing one-two with Colin O’Riordan before burying a rousing goal - 1-3 to 0-10.
A Brian O’Driscoll free settled point Cork once more before a sensational Michael Quinlivan following a smart pass from John McGrath closed the gap to four points. A Dan McEoin free in the 31st minute propelled the home side into a 0-12 to 1-4 interval lead.
Michael Quinlivan (free) and John Corkey traded scores in the opening six minutes of the second half before Tipperary enjoyed a rare, and wonderful, period of dominance.
In the 38th minute Greg Henry combined with John McGrath before the creative Loughmore-Castleiney man picked out Steven O’Brien steaming through on goal; O’Brien smashed in a right-footed effort and the gap was down to two (2-5 to 0-3).
A minute later Colin O’Riordan booted over a fine right-footed effort from distance before Michael Quinlivan converted a free in the 40th minute to tie the game - 2-7 to 0-13.
To be fair this was rousing stuff from Tipperary. Sadly, a Michael Quinlivan effort trailed agonizingly wide in the 42nd minute. A point at that juncture could have turned the game, especially with the home crowd growing decidedly anxious.
To their credit, however, Cork responded to the challenge. A Dan McEoin free in the 43rd minute re-claimed the lead for the home side before Alan Cadogan and Dan McEoin (free) forced Cork three clear (0-16 to 2-7).
The game-clinching score materialized in the 49th minute when John Corkery set up Seán Kiely for a brilliant left-footed goal - 1-16 to 2-7.
Cork had now hit 1-3 without reply in nine minutes. In the 52nd Tipperary hit back with a goal of their own thanks to Greg Henry following a bustling run from Michael Quinlivan to reduce the margin to three.
A Seán Kiely point left four in it with six to play before the highly-impressive Séamus Kennedy charged forward with goal on his mind in the 56th minute. Indeed, as Kennedy prepared to shoot the Clonmel man was pushed, a critical intervention which went unpunished and the Cork goal survived. The injustice was all the more glaring in this instance since a dummy-to-pass from Kennedy appeared to have wrong-footed the Cork ‘keeper.
Late points from Alan Cadogan and Tipperary’s Colman Kennedy concluded the scoring.
Cork: Micheál Martin, Jamie Davis, Conor Dorman, Stephen Cronin, Kevin Fulignati, Seán White, Kevin Crowley (0-3), Ian Maguire, Killian O’Hanlon, Mark Sugrue (0-1, 0-1 free), Brian O’Driscoll (0-3, 0-1 free), Seán Kiely (1-1), Dan McEoin (0-5, 0-4 frees), John Corkery (0-1), Alan Cadogan (0-4). Subs: (43rd) Killian McIntyre for Mark Sugrue, (52nd) David Harrington for Dan McEoin, (54th) Kevin Kavanagh for Kevin Fulignati, (60th) Darragh Murphy for Ian Maguire, (61st) Sam Ryan for John Corkery.
Tipperary: Gearóid Slattery (Cashel King Cormacs), Niall O’Sullivan (Moycarkey-Borris), James Feehan (Killenaule), Conor O’Sullivan (Galtee Rovers), Adrian McGuire (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), Séamus Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials), Bill Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), Steven O’Brien (Ballina, 1-0), Colin O’Riordan (JK Bracken’s, 0-1), Ian Fahey (Clonmel Commercials), John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Greg Henry (Killenaule, 1-1), Liam McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Michael Quinlivan (Clonmel Commercials, 0-5, 0-3 frees), Seán Flynn (Fr Sheehy’s). Subs: (25th) Colman Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials, 1-1) for Ian Fahey, (47th) Josh Keane (Golden-Kilfeacle) for Liam McGrath, (50th) Kevin Fahey (Clonmel Commercials) for Niall O’Sullivan, (52nd) Jason Lonergan (Clonmel Commercials) for Greg Henry, (53rd) Ian Fahey (Clonmel Commercials) for John McGrath, (56th) Liam Casey (Cahir) for Colin O’Riordan.
Referee: Pádraig O’Sullivan (Ciarraí).