Munster Senior Football Championship final
History came alive in more ways than one on this Bloody Sunday commemorative weekend, as Tipperary ended an 85-year wait for a Munster title, beating Cork in their home turf after an incredible performance.
And while the talk from Tipperary before the game was about the lost opportunities since 2016, the class of 2020 have now created their own history, not just in their own record books, but in a Munster Senior Football Championship that hasn’t seen a win from outside the Cork-Kerry rivalry since Clare’s triumph 28 years ago.
The Premier came into the game as rank underdogs, facing a Cork side that finally broke the Kerry dominance after a last gasp win in the semi-final at the same venue a fortnight previous.
David Power’s side talked about how recent league meetings with Cork has helped ease the pressure, and they certainly showed no sign of ‘big match nerves’, sailing into an early three point lead, two from the boot of captain Conor Sweeney.
Luke Connolly’s accuracy from both frees and open play has been the subject of a few highlight reels over the past few Championship seasons, and he was his usual busy self, kicking scores of all kinds, but the Rebels were struggling to break free against a swarming Tipp defence.
What panned out instead was a shock four-point Premier lead at half-time, with Sweeney kicking six points in the opening stanza, and a second superb Michael Quinlivan point from play to close the half showed that the underdogs weren’t reliant on their Ballyporeen captain.
That could have been stretched even further as both sides partook in an impromptu game of volleyball around the Cork square – first pinging off the Cork crossbar, before another handpass across goal saw a Tipp body arrive late to finish, but he was adjudged to have entered the Rebel parallelogram before the ball.
The ground then waited for the next score, as the Rebels kicked two terrible wides from close range, while Tipperary goalkeeper Evan Comerford left a free short, with both sides knowing that the scores following the second break would be crucial.
They went the way of Tipperary.
Liam Casey notched his second with a sweet strike off his left, before Sweeney followed up with his eighth score of the game, and with less than 15 minutes left the Premier lead by an enormous five points.
From there a couple of Cork frees made sure David Power’s side didn’t have an easy finish, but as the hourglass ebbed away, they never looked in danger of relinquishing this most historic of victories.
The Munster football trophy will have its home in Thurles for the first time since 1935, and now with it, Tipp are single game away from a return to Croke Park on All-Ireland football final day, exactly a century on from those fateful events on Hill 16.
Cork: Micheál Óg Martin; Kevin O’Donovan, Maurice Shanley, Paul Ring (Sam Ryan 40); Tadhg Corkery, Seán Meehan, Mattie Taylor (Michael Hurley 65); Ian Maguire, Killian O’Hanlon (Mark Keane 59); John O’Rourke, Colm O’Callaghan (Seán White 44), Rúairí Deane; Mark Collins, Brian Hurley, Luke Connolly (Cathail O’Mahony 35).
Tipperary: Evan Comerford; Alan Campbell, Jimmy Feehan, Colm O’Shaughnessy; Bill Maher, Kevin Fahey (Paudie Feehan 54), Robbie Kelly (Padraic Looram 65); Steven O’Brien, Liam Casey (Phillip Austin 71); Conal Kennedy, Michael Quinlivan, Colin O’Riordan; Brian Fox, Conor Sweeney, Colman Kennedy (Liam Boland 53).
Scorers for Cork: L Connolly 0-4 (0-2f, 0-1 45), M Keane 0-4 (0-4f), J O’Rourke 0-2, C O’Callaghan 0-1, B Hurley 0-1, S White 0-1, D Gore 0-1 (0-1f).
Scorers for Tipperary: C Sweeney 0-8 (0-3f, 0-2m), M Quinlivan 0-4, L Casey 0-2 (0-1m), K Fahey 0-1, E Comerford 0-1 (0-1f), P Austin 0-1.
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).