Flashback: Cork v Tipperary, 2010 Munster SHC
By William Dunne
Tipperary hurling and 2010. Whenever these words are uttered in the same sentence it would instill the image of the yellow Cooper helmet of Lar Corbett as he sent the Premier County’s supporters delirious on the first Sunday in September.
Corbett’s three uniquely beautiful goals set Tipperary on their way to ending a nine-year-wait for All-Ireland glory as they ended the Cat’s ‘drive for five’.
A sight that most certainly wouldn’t have been envisaged if you were to rewind the clocks just three months, when Liam Sheedy’s men were on their knees after suffering a heavy defeat to Cork in a Pairc Ui Chaoimh classic.
“You could just kind of sense from the start of the game that Cork were more up for it”, Tipperary 2010 captain Eoin Kelly remembers.
Tipperary had been beaten by Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final the previous September but the 2009 campaign had instilled belief within the group that they were genuinely capable of going one better that year.
The Mullinahone clubman felt that preparations for the game were faultless, but perhaps their ultimate downfall was complacency. “We had changed a few things. I remember going to Nemo Rangers’ pitch doing a warm up and the warm up would probably have just been 30 minutes. And you’d think it in the warm-up ‘that’s alright like’ and then we headed over to Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
“You could just kind of sense from the start of the game that Cork were more up for it and we were complacent. Everyone was telling us after the League final that it was going to be Tipp and Kilkenny in the All-Ireland Final this year, like last year and we started believing that hype and we didn’t show up that day.”
In a similar fashion to the manner in which Corbett’s name dominates the 2010 All-Ireland final, this encounter seemed revolve around one man’s performance - Aisake O hAilpin.
“I think Denis Walsh (Cork hurling manager in 2010) kind of practiced Aisake inside the full-forward line in a League match for a couple of minutes and he seemed to be getting on one or two balls and then he changed him again.
“So I suppose he kind of had a plan for Tipperary and that plan worked," the six time hurling All-Star recalled.
O hAilpin was being marked by, the then promising hurler that was, Pádraic Maher, but he tormented the Tipperary full-back line in the opening 23 minutes and set up two goals for Cork’s Patrick Horgan.
In goal for Tipperary that day was five-time All-Star Brendan Cummins, who believed that the recent history between the two sides all geared towards a victory for the Premier County, but O hAilpin and Cork had other ideas.
“I think when you’re on a winning vein of form you can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t win and then Aisake O hAilpin decided he was going to go to town on us. And the world changed very quickly.”
Cummins said that in 2010, the county had no specific philosophy in man-marking, but despite the eventual mismatch, the sheer amount of balls delivered into the Rebel’s forwards could have been greatly reduced.
“There was no time we said ‘oh we’re going man-marking this lad’ but obviously on the day where Aisake, everything he did went right and Páudie was new enough to full-back and just struggled on him and that’s the way the thing goes.
“We didn’t really have anybody else to take over full-back from Páudie.
“I’ll also say the supply of ball coming in was where we would have had the issue as well. You’d the Cork half backline standing up, looking in on him. They were taking short puck-outs to them boys and pinging balls in on front of him.
“Sometimes a guy can be playing well but if you limit the supply, you limit the damage but that day we couldn’t do either. We couldn’t limit the supply and we obviously couldn’t limit the damage.”
Paul Curran was moved to full-back just before half-time as Cork led by just 2-5 to 0-10. “The dressing room at half-time was something that struck me a lot," Cummins said.
“They were after getting under our skins there was no doubt about it. The second half, it played out that we were just pushed around the place like rag dolls for all the world and that was that.
“There were very, very few patches where we had any momentum in the second half they were all over us and we were just waiting for the full-time whistle.”
Cork scored five successive points in a matter of minutes as the second-half began and with Tipperary going 33 minutes without a score from play, the deficit became unassailable.
Aisake O hAilpin finally raised the green flag with just 10 minutes remaining putting Cork 10 points ahead as Sheedy’s men were brought back down to earth.
Tipperary’s All-Ireland aspirations had taken a backwards step and even as captain of the side, Eoin Kelly was speechless and could only explain the atmosphere in the dressing room after the game as ‘horrendous’.
“No one was saying anything, we said we’d leave it to the manager to say a few words and if memory serves me right he didn’t even say much afterwards. He said ‘just look lads we’ll meet on Tuesday night’ and we had more of a discussion then.
“I think everyone of us to a man were beaten in their position that day. I don’t think you could even turn around and say four or five men even won their position," Kelly said.
The Tuesday was a night where both management and players accountability was taken into question and it fundamentally set the ‘roadmap’ for Tipperary’s 2010 ambitions.
Brendan Cummins pays huge credit to the manner in which Liam Sheedy managed the situation in that everyone got the opportunity to address any underlying issues. “Players got to have their say, Liam listened to each other because in those examples you had to get it out there.
“Whoever wanted to talk, talked. Everyone was really raw, it was really emotional I would say on the night. Everybody cared you see, they wanted to say sorry, they wanted to say what they were going to do to be part of the solution.
“Liam Sheedy just said ‘right lads, I get the green light so now that we’re going to drive on look it, I’ll drive ye even more than I did before.’ And we said yes and that’s what he did and thankfully it all ended up being a happy story in the end," Cummins concluded.