By Brian McDonnell at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork
Tipperary 3-18 Cork 2-16
A superb performance saw Michael Ryan’s Tipperary intermediate team comfortably get the better of a disappointing Cork side at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday - Tipp will now face defending Munster champions Clare in the provincial final.
In the end Tipperary enjoyed a five-point win, but such was their dominance that the Premier men could just have easily cruised to a double-digit victory.
It’s rare to see a Cork side humiliated at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, but the Rebels were faced with that very prospect when trailing Tipperary by 13 points at the break - 0-6 to 3-10.
By the opening minute of the second half Cork had already introduced four substitutes and although they did rally this game was decided long before referee Declan O’Driscoll’s final whistle.
Only Adrian Mannix (0-6 from play) stood out for Cork. Christy Coughlan, David Butler, Paudie White, Michael Heffernan and Seán Carey were absolutely outstanding for Tipperary while Michael Gleeson looked an obvious man of the match candidate.
Despite a 12-point win over Limerick at the quarter-final stage Tipperary knew an improved performance was required to beat the Rebels.
And, Tipp went about their task in a ravenous fashion.
Indeed, the Premier led 1-2 to no-score after just five minutes.
A Kieran Morris free got Tipp going before Michael Heffernan picked out David Butler with a smashing delivery in the third minute and the Drom & Inch man fired home a lovely goal.
Michael Gleeson added a further point and, suddenly, Cork were wondering what had hit them.
The Cork men responded with points from Adrian Mannix and Michael O’Sullivan, but Tipp were playing the more considered hurling and surged clear of their hosts with two Michael Heffernan points forcing his side into a 1-4 to 0-2 lead before the Premier buried a second goal in the 13th minute. This time the highly-creative Michael Gleeson fired the ball into Kieran Morris’ corner and although Morris failed to gather Joe Gallagher profited when Cork full-back Darragh Rodgers over ran the breaking ball.
Gallagher then raced through before firing home a neat left-handed shot - 2-4 to 0-2.
Adrian Mannix and Séamus Harnedy managed responses for Cork to leave six between them by the 16th minute before Kieran Morris worked the ball out to Michael Gleeson and the Thurles Sarsfields man swung over a smashing point four minutes later. Within seconds Seán Carey landed another cracker from distance and Tipp led 2-6 to 0-4.
An Olann Kelleher point for Cork proved a mere precursor to a third Tipperary goal in the 24th minute - this time David Butler broke down Michael Heffernan’s cross to the unmarked Seán Carey who lashed home a first-time effort (3-6 to 0-5).
A listless Cork then permitted Tipperary to fire four consecutive points - David Butler (two), Kieran Morris (free) & Seán Carey- which helped the Premier men into a 3-10 to 0-5 lead.
An Adrian Mannix free closed out the half with Declan O’Driscoll’s half-time whistle greeted by a few cat calls from the normally robustly partisan Cork support.
Kieran Morris and Adrian Mannix traded two points apiece in the opening four minutes of the second half to maintain the status quo before Séamus Harnedy set up Colm Casey for a Cork goal in the 37th minute - 1-8 to 3-12.
Adrian Mannix (free) and Michael Heffernan then traded points - Heffernan’s effort could just have easily ended up in the back of the net following a neat one-two with Seán Carey - to leave ten points between them by the 42nd minute.
Cork then enjoyed their most dominant period of this one-sided contest when points from David Drake, Séamus Harnedy and Michael O’Sullivan closed the gap to seven points (1-12 to 3-13) by the 47th minute.
O’Sullivan’s effort could just as easily have found the roof of the Tipperary net, but James Logue denied the Cork marksman with a fine reaction save.
Tipperary steadied themselves with three further points to avert Cork’s hopes of mounting a late challenge - a Kieran Morris ’65 launched this scoring surge before Seán Carey and David Butler landed impressive efforts.
Tipp now led 3-16 to 1-12 in the 51st minute, but some sloppy hurling in the final ten minutes allowed Cork to fire four consecutive points. Incredibly Adrian Mannix was permitted to lash over three of these while Joe Budds helped himself to another.
With Tipp’s lead now cut to six points (3-16 to 1-16) the Premier responded with a Michael Heffernan point and a Kieran Morris free to open an eight-point gap by the 57th minute.
Tipp corner-back Gerry Walsh limped off with an injury in the 61st minute which reduced his side to 14 players with Cork profiting from a little confusion a minute later when Séamus Harnedy found the room to fire in a shot which James Logue got his stick to, but failed to keep out.
Tipperary: James Logue (Ballingarry), Christy Coughlan (Templederry Kenyons), Kevin O’Gorman (Thurles Sarsfields), Gerry Walsh (Carrick Swans), James Barry (Upperchurch-Drombane), Eddie Connolly (Loughmore-Castleiney, captain), Ronan Sherlock (Silvermines), Michael Gleeson (Thurles Sarsfields, 0-2), Paudie White (Clonoulty-Rossmore), Michael Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg, 0-4), Damien O’Brien (Burgess), Seán Carey (Moyle Rovers, 1-3), Kieran Morris (Moycarkey-Borris, 0-6, 0-4 frees, 0-1 ‘65), Joe Gallagher (Kildangan, 1-0), David Butler (Drom & Inch, 1-3). Subs: (29th) Cathal Dillon (Aherlow) for Damien O’Brien (blood), (40th) Richie Ruth (Thurles Sarsfields) for Damien O’Brien, (53rd) John Sheedy (Portroe) for Joe Gallagher, (55th) Ciarán Haugh (Lorrha) for Ronan Sherlock, (57th) Cathal Dillon (Aherlow) for Richie Ruth, (60th) Niall Teehan (Gortnahoe-Glengoole) for James Barry.
Cork: Stephen Nyhan, Brendan Withers, Darragh Rodgers, Brian O’Sullivan, Joe Jordan, Vincent Hurley, Stephen White, Michael O’Sullivan (0-2), Brian Lawton, Olann Kelleher (0-1), Mark Sugrue, Adrian Mannix (0-9, 0-3 frees), Colm Casey (1-0), Séamus Harnedy (1-2), David Drake (0-1). Subs: (23rd) Maurice O’Sullivan for Olann Kelleher, (HT) Tadhg Healy for Joe Jordan, (HT) Joe Budds (0-1) for Mark Sugrue, (HT) Conor O’Driscoll for Brendan Withers, (52nd) Barry Coleman for Vincent Hurley.
Referee: Declan O’Driscoll (Limerick).