GAA round-up: Tipperary footballers earn win over Cork
Tipperary, remarkably, are through to a first Munster SFC final since 2002.
Liam Kearns' men stunned Cork in Sunday afternoon’s epic semi-final at Semple Stadium.
Rank outsiders before throw-in, Tipp scored two injury-time points through Kevin O’Halloran, both from placed balls, to set up a provincial final with Kerry on July 3, after Cork had come from nine points down to level.
It was Tipp’s first senior football championship victory over Cork since 1944 and thoroughly deserved as the Leesiders were sent hurtling towards the qualifiers.
Cork levelled in the final minute through skipper Paul Kerrigan but there was still time left for O’Halloran to nail an ice-cool 45 before he set the seal on a remarkable afternoon by slamming over a close-range free.
Kearns was in charge of Limerick when they stunned Cork by ten points in 2003 but this is an even more seismic result by football standards.
Tipp saw a nine-point lead whittled away as Cork drew level in the final minute through Paul Kerrigan.
At half-time, Tipperary led by seven points, 2-7 to 0-6, and a shock was very much on the cards.
The sides were level three times in the opening ten minutes and Tipp also missed an eighth-minute penalty, when captain Peter Acheson saw his effort well-saved by Cork goalkeeper Ryan Price.
Crucially, Kevin O’Halloran nailed the resultant ’45 and Acheson was able to put that miss behind him with a classy point from play later in the half.
Tipp’s opening goal arrived in the 14th minute, buried by Conor Sweeney after the hosts capitalised on a loose kick-out.
George Hannigan won possession and fed Brian Fox, before Sweeney profited from a perfectly-timed off-load to net at the Killinan End.
Cork, who registered nine first-half wides, were rattled but Conor Dorman, one of their better players in the first half, scored his second point from play to leave four points between them, Tipp ahead by 1-5 to 0-4.
There was a little moment for the history books then when Brian Hurley’s free was judged wide by HawkEye, the first football call in Thurles from the new technology.
John O’Rourke and Mark Collins scored points to bring Cork back to within two as Tipp endured a 14-minute barren period on the scoreboard.
But Tipp, playing against the breeze, finished the half with 1-2, and the goal was an avoidable concession from a Cork viewpoint.
Referee John Neilan played a good advantage as Brian Fox was fouled on his way through and when the ball squirted loose, Michael Quinlivan was on hand to boot a soccer-style effort beneath the body of Ryan Price, who could have done better.
Tipp then suffered a blow when Josh Keane was black-carded but the Premier County shrugged off that blow to claim the final point of the half, Quinlivan shooting his second from play in stoppage time.
The second half was an absolute rollercoaster in front of 2,724 spectators as Tipp surged into nine-point lead twice before Cork, with Mark Collins scoring the first of his two goals, narrowing the gap back to four, 1-10 to 2-11.
Tipp, with Brian Fox scoring a quick-fire 1-1, were nine points clear again, 3-13 to 1-10, with eight minutes remaining.
But Cork bagged a second goal through Collins in the 66th minute and remarkably, were level through Kerrigan before O’Halloran’s late brace sent Tipp into dreamland.
Tipp finished with 14 players Billy Hewitt was black-carded in the fifth minute of stoppage time but the clock ran out on Cork.
Westmeath secured one-point victory over Offaly at a sun-dappled Cusack Park.
The hosts had surged into a six-point interval lead (0-9 to 0-3) but then had to withstand a high-octane Offaly resurgence during a fraught second half.
The visitors, now backed by the wind, edged back to within a point on four separate occasions – but, crucially, they never drew level.
Fittingly, the winning point came in the 71st minute from James Dolan, who had performed defensive heroics with four block-downs. The wing-back popped up in attack, taking a short pass from Denis Corroon to calmly bisect the posts and restore a two-point cushion.
Offaly had fought back primarily through their second half dominance of the kick-out, the frees of Nigel Dunne and the attacking bursts of centre-back Peter Cunningham. And it was Cunningham's second point from play, in the 72nd minute, that again left the minimum between the sides.
But their one chance of parity, and an O'Connor Park replay, evaporated when an unusually off-colour Niall McNamee shot wide from a 55m free.
The game ended soon after, and had a controversial postscript as bodies came onto the pitch. Westmeath's Kieran Martin was ushered off by one the backroom staff with his nose visibly pumping blood – but he still managed a defiant fist pump to the crowd.
Meath survived a few uneasy second half moments to book a Leinster semi-final date with Dublin thanks to a four-point win over Louth in Parnell Park.
Louth never stopped searching and asking questions of a fragile Meath defence but ultimately had no answer to Meath's pace on the break, chiefly through Graham Reilly in the second half and Cillian O'Sullivan.
Meath might have made their passage a little easier but spurned too many goal chances, Andrew Tormey shooting over after O'Sullivan's blistering run had put him in one-on-one with Louth goalkeeper Craig Lynch early in the second half.
Substitute Donal Lenihan had a further chance well blocked by Patrick Reilly while Lynch had earlier saved from Newman at close range.
Failure to convert any of these chances made it interesting right to the end as James Califf and James Stewart applied real pressure to the Meath midfield.
Meath's biggest lead was seven points in the 59th minute when Cian O'Brien put them 0-18 to 0-11 clear.
But five minutes later Jim McEnaney squeezed home a goal to cause Meath more concern, the gap back to four again.
Mick O'Dowd's side saw it home however with Mickey Newman landing a couple of frees.
The opening quarter had been played out played out at a frantic pace but at the end of that period Meath were showing clear signs of control with championship debutant O'Sullivan pulling the strings and Eamonn Wallace finding gaps in the Louth defence for a 0-6 to 0-3 lead to be established.
Meath were on top defensively too through Donnacha Tobin, Donal Keogan and Padraic Harnan especially though mistakes in possession were costly and allowed Louth to stay in touch.
Wing-back Anthony Williams got forward to kick two points, the second of which reduced the gap to two points again, 0-8 to 0-6, but Meath finished the half strongly with points from Mickey Newman (free), Wallace after a great move and Andrew Tormey for a 0-11 to 0-6 lead.
Louth closed the gap to just two points early in the second half when they won Meath's first three kick-outs but the response was emphatic with Reilly and Tomrey (twice) on the mark.
Kerry cruised into a Munster SFC final meeting with Tipperary with a 12-point win over Clare in a one-sided Munster SFC semi-final before 11,358 in Killarney.
The writing was on the wall in the opening five minutes when Kerry struck for two goals through Colm Cooper and Stephen O'Brien, effectively killing off the game as a contest and giving Clare little chance of causing an upset.
Eamonn Fitzmaurice will be concerned by Kerry's indiscipline however, as they conceded far too many frees which kept Clare within a respectable distance.
Mikey Geaney also picked up an unnecessary black card in injury time when the result was in no doubt.