Cork 49ers reign in Munster

June 26, 2005
Cork claimed their 49th Munster senior hurling championship with a stunning 1-21 to 1-16 defeat of Tipperary at sunny Pairc Ui Chaoimh. The Rebels thrilled the home support with a spirited first-half display, setting themselves up for a famous victory with some wonderful stickwork. To their credit, Tipp made a real fight of it in the second half, showing that they can still make an impression in this year's All-Ireland series. Tipperary made a bright start and roared into a 0-4 to 0-2 lead after eight minutes, but Cork dominated the rest of the first half, outscoring the underdogs by 1-11 to a solitary point in the remainder of the opening period to lead by eleven at the break. It was devastating stuff from Cork, while Tipp only had two scorers in the first half, the outstanding Kelly brothers Eoin and Paul registering five points between them. The Rebels, meanwhile, landed a succession of great scores from all over the field. Kieran Murphy hit a bad wide for Cork after only 20 seconds and Tipp drew first blood when Paul Kelly knocked over a great point from a '65'. Eoin Kelly stretched the lead but Joe Deane replied for the All-Ireland champions from an easy free after a foul on the marauding Niall McCarthy. Two-one to Tipp after four minutes. Paul Kelly landed a whopper of a point for the Premier County and Sarsfields clubman Murphy registered a Cork point from play. The Kelly brothers were on fire and Eoin grabbed his second point before Deane clipped over Cork's third point. A minute later, midfielder Gerry O'Connor nicked a mighty point from distance to tie the score up at 0-4 apiece after nine minutes. The Rebels went in front for the first time when Brian Corcoran pointed after gaining possession from Murphy in the 12th minute. However, it was to be the former Hurler of the Year's last contribution as Corcoran had to leave the pitch immediately with a shoulder injury. Neil Ronan replaced the luckless Cork full forward. Ben O'Connor converted a free to put the Leesiders two in front but the Newtownshandrum clubman then missed a good opportunity from open play. Nineteen minutes in, Cork struck for the opening goal of the match. Deane flicked at Murphy's long delivery and, even though the corner forward failed to make contact, his presence was enough to unsettle the Tipperary defence and the ball ended up in the back of the Brendan Cummins' net. O'Connor brought Cork's tally to 1-7 with a precise free and Tipperary were then awarded a very dubious penalty when Micheal Webster went to ground after making a great catch. Justice was done when Donal Og Cusack saved Eoin Kelly's penalty and, within seconds, Murphy had the ball over the bar at the other end. Niall McCarthy became the fifth Rebel attacker to score, flicking the sliothar over the bar to give the reigning All-Ireland champions a 1-9 to 0-4 lead. It was looking ominous for Ken Hogan's men as Cork had now hit 1-7 without reply. Ronan stroked over a tenth Cork point and Deane made it 1-11 to 0-4 on the half-hour. Tipp were reeling and Eoin Kelly struck two poor wides, one from play and one from a free. Midfielder Gerry O'Connor pointed again in the last minute of the half and Paul Kelly was on hand to provide Tipp's first score in 27 minutes. Ben O'Connor converted his third free to give Cork a comprehensive 1-13 to 0-5 interval lead. Neil Ronan extended Cork's lead within seconds of the resumption and Paul Kelly replied with his fourth converted free. Deane cracked over a Cork free and John Devane of Tipp got the next score. Ten minutes into the second half, Cork's eleven-point margin remained intact. Eoin Kelly bagged his third point in the 46th minute, but Tipp then had two wides inside a minute. Devane showed them the way with another huge point from distance but Deane got the next point from a free. Tipperary rang the changes in the second half, with Redser O'Grady and John Carroll coming into the half-forward line and the reshuffle led to a substantially improved performance. Carroll pointed within seconds of his introduction and Paul Kelly closed the gap to eight, 1-16 to 0-11, with a quarter of the match remaining. Ronan danced through the Tipp defence to notch his third point and Paul Kelly's response was instant - the midfielder's sixth point. Cork refused to panic and Ben O'Connor popped over their 18th point from a free. Paul Kelly was giving an exhibition for the Premier County, and he calmly knocked over another point. Ben O'Connor's point put Cork nine points ahead again and Eoin Kelly tapped over a close-range free with ten minutes left. A scramble in the Cork goalmouth ended with Tommy Dunne poking the ball across the line and Eoin Kelly tagged on a quick free as the gap was reduced to just four points with seven minutes left, 1-19 to 1-15. Cork had taken their collective foot off the gas and Tipp were making them pay. Perhaps it's due to the promise of a place in the All-Ireland series regardless of the outcome, but the game was lacking some of the intensity that one would normally associate with a Munster final. O'Connor gratefully clipped another free between the posts and Tommy Dunne was very unfortunate not to get his second goal three minutes from the end but, agonisingly, the grounded Tipp attacker failed to get a clean contact on the sliothar and the chance went a begging. Three minutes of additional time were added on at the end and Kelly claimed his sixth point from a free in the first of those. Cork sub Kieran Murphy from Erin's Own closed the scoring after a strong, purposeful run and the Rebel County held on to regain the Munster SHC with five points to spare, 1-21 to 1-16.

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