Cork dig deep to retain Munster championship

June 25, 2006
Cork had to show plenty of resolve to beat Tipperary by 2-14 to 1-14 in a pulsating Munster SHC final at Semple Stadium. Tipp really put it up to the All-Ireland champions and got off to a flier with a Lar Corbett goal, but first-half majors from Ben O'Connor and Brian Corcoran as well as a haul of eight points from the unerring Joe Deane maintained John Allen's incredible 100% championship record. Diarmuid Fitzgerald was almost in for a first-minute goal but Donal Og Cusack stood up to the kicked shot and sent it out for a 65, which Eoin Kelly fired low and accurately over the bar to give the Premier County an early lead. In the fourth minute Tipp stretched their advantage when Lar Corbett took advantage of some uncharacteristically sloppy Cork defending to grab possession and fire the sliothar to the back of the net. Midfielder Jerry O'Connor responded with the Rebels' opening point but the same player was off target with his next long-range effort. A high challenge on Cian O'Connor gifted Joe Deane a point from a 21-metre free in the ninth minute but Ben O'Connor's attempted point from a sideline cut flew just wide. Deane showed pace and accuracy to point from play. In the twelfth minute, Brian Corcoran got a Cork goal when he played an inadvertent one-two with Deane before drilling a hard shot to the roof of Brendan Cummins' goal. John O'Brien followed up with a steadying point for the Premier County. Cusack stood up to Eoin Kelly's shot to avert a goal and John Gardiner gave the Leeside support plenty to cheer when he landed a whopper of a free from huge distance. O'Brien pointed again via an upright following excellent approach play from Eoin Kelly and there was a point in it at the end of the first quarter - 1-4 to 1-3 in the Rebels' favour. Ben O'Connor extended the advantage with a blistering point from the right wing before an incisive move resulted in Cork's second goal: Ben O'Connor gathered possession on the right hand side inside his own half and carried out a neat interchange with Tom Kenny and Timmy McCarthy to bear down on goal. From an acute angle, the No.13 blazed a shot past Cummins on his near post. John Carroll pulled back a Tipp point and Cusack came off his line rapidly to deny Fitzgerald another goal chance. Again, Eoin Kelly knocked over the 65 and the Mulinahone maestro followed up with his third point, from a free in front of the posts. Gardiner got his second point when Cummins let the sliothar bounce close to goal and it hopped up awkwardly and the Tipp netminder was forced to avert it over the bar with his hurl. Gerry O'Connor's next piledriver from inside his own half also went wide but Paul Kelly showed him how with a superb distant point from play. Deane went for goal and had his shot blocked, while Ger O'Grady fired wide at the other end when he should have picked out one of two better-positioned team-mates. Eoin Kelly (free) registered his fourth point from as many attempts and the No.15's fifth point from as many placed ball drew his side level in the final minute of first-half normal time. At half time, it was: Cork 2-6, Tipperary 1-9. On the restart, Kenny scythed through three or four tackles to buy himself some time and space but his shot flew wide of the target. Joe Deane curled over a lovely free from 50 yards into the breeze following a rugby tackle on the industrious Niall McCarthy and got his fourth point (another free) when Eamonn Corcoran bundled Timmy McCarthy to the deck. Roscrea's John Carroll closed the gap to one with his second point but Corcoran's truly splendid strike from the right restored the two-point differential after Paul Ormonde's fumble had gifted possession to Ben O'Connor. Eoin Kelly converted a monstrous free from well inside his own half in the 13th minute of the second half and then levelled the scores with is first point from play - a majestic shot over the shoulder in full stride. Deane pounced to punish a hesitant Tipp defence for the lead score, while hard-working half forwards Redser O'Grady and Carroll missed the target for Babs Keating's side. Corcoran missed the target but there was no such mistake from Deane as he split the posts with his sixth score from as many shots. Corbett pointed immediately at the other end. Deane joined Kelly as the game's top scorer with a seventh point from a 65 eight minutes from the end but Jerry O'Connor shot wide after being picked out by twin brother Ben, as did Gardiner from a free. Tipperary substitute Benny Dunne pointed with his first touch to close the gap to one point four minutes from the end and, a minute later, Cusack denied Eoin Kelly. Ben O'Connor missed the target for a clearly rattled Cork team, but the Rebel County produced the goods when it mattered most. John Allen introduced Kieran Murphy from Sarsfields in the last minute and Murphy repaid his manager with an instant point from an awkward position. It was announced that three minutes of injury time would be added. Frustratingly for Tipp, the defending champions seemed to get all the late decisions and Deane put a goal between them when he pointed a late, late free. Cummins thwarted Deane when he went for goal right at the death and referee Dickie Murphy blasted the final whistle to confirm that the Rebels had retained their Munster SHC crown. Cork: D Og Cusack; P Mulcahy, D O'Sullivan, B Murphy; J Gardiner (0-2), R Curran, S Og O hAilpin; T Kenny, J O'Connor (0-1); T McCarthy, N McCarthy, C O'Connor; B O'Connor (1-1), B Corcoran (1-1), J Deane (0-8). Subs: N Ronan, K Murphy (0-1) Tipperary: B Cummins; D Fanning, P Curran, P Ormonde; E Corcoran, C O'Mahoney, H Moloney; P Kelly (0-1), S McGrath; J Carroll (0-2), G O'Grady, J O'Brien (0-2); D Fitzgerald, L Corbett (1-1), E Kelly (0-7). Subs: J Devane, C Morrissey, B Dunne (0-1), M Webster

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