TIPPERARY 2-18 CORK 1-17 Tipp back on track as late Morris dance helps All-Ireland champions to pass Rebel test
THE gauntlet was thrown down to Tipperary as their grip on Liam MacCarthy looked to be slipping through their fingers but Jake Morris's late goal saw them pass the Rebel test with flying colours to keep their back-to-back bid on track.
Championship survival was at stake against old rivals Cork in their All-Ireland SHC Qualifier clash at the LIT Gaelic Grounds this afternoon and Tipp were in trouble when Patrick Horgan fired Cork ahead on the hour mark.
A comprehensive defeat to Limerick two weeks ago left them flirting with a disastrous All-Ireland defence but man-of-the-match Michael Breen and new faces like Morris and substitutes Willie Connors and Paul Flynn saw them over the line.
It was far from perfect against a Cork side which put themselves in a winning position before being outscored 1-4 to 0-2 down the home stretch but Tipp boss Liam Sheedy was happy to come out alive as they booked their place in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
"We wouldn't be getting carried away by today but it's certainly a step in the right direction," Sheedy said. "We need to get better but I think we will. You can't beat match practice and that's only our second match since March.
"We’re still far from the finished article but I do think we’re improving. At half-time, two points up and playing into the stiff breeze, it was backs to the wall and I thought there was character shown by the lads in the second half."
With atrocious conditions and a swirling breeze, it was never going to be one of the high-scoring affairs we have become accustomed to but Tipp were nearly authors of their own downfall as well with 18 wides, 12 in the opening period with the wind at their backs.
The Premier were much quicker out of the blocks, though, with four Jason Forde frees inside the opening 15 minutes helping them into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead with the recalled Breen firing over their only point from play in that period.
Declan Dalton provided the sole response from Cork but they were soon level, 1-2 to 0-5, with Patrick Horgan negotiating the breeze in his face to fire over a free before racing through an absent Tipp defence and rifling the net in the 22nd minute.
Breen lost possession under pressure with the ball popping out to Horgan around the '65 and the Glen Rovers sharpshooter didn't need a second invitation as he carried the ball unopposed before cooly slotting the sliotar low past Brian Hogan.
Breen made amends to fire over his second point as the Tipp attack was malfunctioning but a free from Horgan and a well-taken score from Tim O'Mahony had Cork ahead by the minimum, 1-4 to 0-6.
Tipp were treading water but with their wind calming significantly before the break, they finished strongly with a a hat-trick of points from Forde (one from play and one long free) and Dan McCormack leaving them ahead at the break despite having just three players on the scoreboard, 0-9 to 1-4.
It was tit for tat upon the resumption with the sides sharing the first four points but Forde fired Tipp's first goal in the 42nd minute when brilliantly rounding Colm Spillane and finishing low past Anthony Nash.
When Seamus Callanan finally escaped the clutches of marker Damien Cahalane to fire his first point a minute later, it looked like Tipp were going to stretch clear as they led by five, 1-12 to 1-7, but things quickly swung soon after.
Forde missed a routine free from 50m before Breen was pulled for over-carrying from the subsequent puck out with Horgan punishing that foul with a huge free before Seasmus Harnedy took over the rest of the third quarter.
The St Ita's attacker fired three points to leave them within two points at the water break, 1-13 to 1-11, and they were ahead by the 60th minute following a remarkable turnaround when Robbie O'Flynn sent over a great score and Horgan landed a '65.
Tipp were under pressure, but Breen was in unstoppable form for Tipp, though, and his fifth point had them ahead by the 66th minute before Morris and substitute Flynn saw them home in a thrilling finish.
SCORERS – Tipperary: J Forde 1-6 (5f), M Breen 0-5, J Morris 1-0, D McCormack, S Callanan, P Flynn 0-2 each, W Connors 0-1.
Cork: P Horgan 1-8 (7f, 0-1 '65), S Harnedy 0-4, D Dalton, T O'Mahony, B Cooper, R O'Flynn, S Kingston 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY –B Hogan, C Barrett, R Maher, A Flynn; N O'Meara, B Maher, Pádraic Maher; N McGrath, M Breen; D McCormack, J McGrath, Patrick Maher; J Forde, S Callanan, J Morris.
Subs: W Connors for J McGrath (33), P Flynn for Patrick Maher (53), P Cadell for N McGrath (59), D Quirke for Forde (73)
CORK –A Nash; C Spillane, D Cahalane, S O'Donoghue; R Downey, M Coleman, T O'Mahony; B Cooper, L Meade; D Dalton, R O'Flynn, S Harnedy; P Horgan, S Kingston, Jack O'Connor.
Subs: S McDonnell for Downey (48), D Fitzgibbon for Dalton (51), C Lehane for O'Connor (60), A Walsh for Meade (69), B Hennessy for Kingston (73).
REF –J Owens (Wexford)