Last Year’s Pain Can Tipp Semi In Cork’s Favour
Cork v Tipperary
It’s the Croker clash that hurling fans have been anticipating since the back door was fitted, and with Sunday’s attendance promising to be close to 70,000, we should be in for an occasion to fit the hype.
On 37 wins each in their championship head-to-heads, the 2014 versions of the Cork and Tipp brand look difficult to separate too. Boylesports see Cork as slight favourites at evens, while Tipp are priced at 21/20 with the draw at 9/1.
Limerick are the form link this year. Tipp looked in control against Limerick in Thurles but the barnstorming Treatysiders finished in a whirlwind to win by two (2-18 to 2-16), while in the Munster final Limerick were wasteful early on before Cork took over and gained revenge for last year’s provincial final defeat on a 2-24 to 0-24 scoreline.
Tipp recovered well though and if 2014 delivers Liam, they’ll look back to the Galway Qualifier when they came from six points down with 20 minutes to go to win by nine. They scored 2-10 to Galway’s 0-01 in that time and went some way to silencing the critics who questioned their appetite for the fight when push came to shove against Limerick.
They followed that up with handy wins over Offaly (17 points) and Dublin (13 points). That’s an average of 13 point wins in their last three games. However, there are major questions marks over the three vanquished sides. Galway were playing their third big game in three weeks against top opposition, Offaly have been at wrong end of some absolute tankings, while Dublin never came close to last year’s levels.
Cork’s form in beating Limerick got a boost with the Treatysider’s powerful display against Kilkenny last weekend, though like Kilkenny, they run the risk of being off championship pace as the Cats looked early on.
Both sides are unchanged from their last outings. Cork captain, Pa Cronin, a major doubt in the run-up, is available for Cork and that is a major plus for the Leesiders.
Cork’s ability to tie down the Tipp forward line will obviously be key to this game.
Paraic ‘Bonner’ Maher’s foraging is key to Tipp, and off him, John ‘Bubbles’ Dwyer has been profiting this season. Dwyer has hit 3-20 from play this championship, and Christopher Joyce will have his hands full on Sunday. Bubbles is 14/1 to be named RTE man-of-the-match. Mark Ellis at 6 has the unenviable job of trying to subdue Bonner. The Tipp half-forward line have come under fire for their lack of ball-winning, but the Cork half-back line doesn’t fall under the ‘Imposing’ category.
JBM will tap into the obvious motivation that the hurt Cork suffered last year when they had their fingertips on Liam only to see an outrageous leveller from Donal O’Donovan. However, balancing that is Tipp’s desire to prove they are a top side. That has been questioned since their inability to back up their super 2010 win over Kilkenny.
Eamonn O’Shea’s men were also questioned after their Limerick loss. Tipp have momentum coming into this and, like Limerick last weekend, should be sharper having played games recently. Cork have fantastic speed though and in Conor Lehane, Seamus Harnedy and Alan Cadogan they’ve got a scoring support cast to accompany the machine that is Patrick Horgan.
Tipp’s back-line hasn’t met anything with their scoring potential in the last three games, and the positioning of Paudie Maher will be interesting. Is Conor O’Mahony fit and ready to appear?
The scoring potential for Tipp suggests we’ll be in for a shoot-out but the weather forecast presently isn’t promising. 52.5 points is a big total, and in a semi-final with so much at stake, we’ll steer clear.
This is a tight call, but having tipped Cork up at 8/1 before a ball was pucked, we’ll keep the faith in JBM’s men.
Last weekend, Limerick did all the hurling until Kilkenny shook off the cobwebs and this weekend could prove similar. The 9/2 about the Premier holding a lead at the short whistle before Cork establishing themselves and going on to win is worth a wager. Small bets on two exciting forwards can help make a fascinating game even moreso.
Tipperary half-time/Cork full-time @ 9/2
John O’Dwyer RTE Man of the Match @ 14/1
Conor Lehan RTE Man of the Match @ 12/1