Preview: Munster SHC - Tipperary v Cork
Sunday May 21
Munster SHC Quarter-Final
Tipperary v Cork, Semple Stadium, 4pm
By Cian O'Connell
The conventional wisdom suggests that within the space of 70 scary minutes Tipperary went from being wonderful to worried. Ultimately, that might be a simplistic view following a particularly wretched experience in the Allianz Hurling League Final, but, nonetheless Tipperary enter Sunday’s Munster SHC encounter against Cork with a note of caution.
Kieran Kingston brings a developing team in blood red and white jerseys to Thurles, hopeful about causing a surprise.
While Tipperary’s League Final collapse to Galway was curious, Cork also exited that competition in disappointing circumstances.
Cork could locate confidence and promise in wins over Clare, Waterford, and Tipperary, but the losses to Dublin, Kilkenny, and Limerick, at the Quarter-Final stage, were a reminder of the distance that still needs to be travelled.
Being ready for May 21 was Kingston’s ultimate objective so how Cork cope with Tipperary’s physical attack will be decisive.
During the League Clare joint manager Gerry O’Connor offered his insight into what he felt was one of Tipperary’s chief strengths.
“Normally your half back line is your platform, but Tipperary's platform was actually their half forward line,” O’Connor remarked about how the Premier County went about their business in 2016.
“The way young (Dan) McCormack and Bonner Maher were tracking back, turning over possession from the opposition's half back line was very noticeable. It gave them a huge advantage in terms of the turnovers that they were creating.”
It also ensured Seamus Callanan and John McGrath were supplied with sufficient rations of possession to land a high volume of important scores.
Entering this tussle with Cork, though, serious injury doubts surround the participation of Michael Cahill, Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher, and Callanan.
Cork selector Diarmuid O’Sullivan isn’t too bothered about the fact that Kingston’s outfit have already beaten Tipp in a competitive fixture already this year.
“That day in the League is gone, that’s like last year’s game,’ is O’Sullivan’s verdict.
“We’ll never get it back again, so we’re not interested. It’s a results business. We won, but it’s game by game, week by week.
“That’s what we’re being judged on, it’s what we’re judging the lads on, and what they’re judging us on — when we go into the dressing room we’re looking to see if we can develop each week. Our process isn’t going to change.
“We take each game on its individual merits — we analyse it, review it, see what we can get out of it and then we park it.”
During the League Patrick Horgan accumulated significant scoring hauls, while Seamus Harnedy, Alan Cadogan, Luke Meade, and Shane Kingston also enjoyed productive moments.
Kingston has invested heavily in youth so how they deal with an accomplished Tipperary team will be revealing.
Michael Breen finished the spring strongly for Tipperary and is expected to partner Brendan Maher at centrefield, where a crucial battle will take place.
Cork have the potential and pace to turn this into an interesting match on the hallowed Thurles turf with Michael Ryan’s Tipperary eager to launch a successful All Ireland defence for the first time since 1965.
TIPPERARY: Darren Gleeson; Cathal Barrett, James Barry, John O'Keefe; Seamus Kennedy, Ronan Maher, Padraic Maher; Brendan Maher, Michael Breen; Dan McCormack, Sean Curran, Noel McGrath; John O'Dwyer, Seamus Callanan, John McGrath.
CORK: Anthony Nash; Stephen McDonnell, Damian Cahalane, Colm Spillane; Christopher Joyce, Mark Ellis, Mark Coleman; Bill Cooper, Darragh Fitzgibbon; Seamus Harnedy, Conor Lehane, Shane Kingston; Alan Cadogan, Patrick Horgan, Luke Meade.