All-Ireland champions Tipperary survived a high-scoring thriller against ancient rivals Cork this afternoon to set up a Munster SHC semi-final showdown with Clare on 19 June.
Tipp made up for last year’s ten-point championship defeat against Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh with an eight-point success against the visitors in a gripping encounter.
Tipp had to show true grit in the second half to close the game out after Cork came from eight points down to draw level with 14 minutes of normal time remaining.
Denis Walsh’s team seemed dead and buried but launched a stunning revival which tied the scores at 0-21 to 2-15 by the 56th minute.
But Tipp responded to secure victory win as Benny Dunne’s goal four minutes from time finally put paid to a dogged Cork resistance.
A crowd of 31,231 were royally entertained from start to finish and it was Tipp that sprung to life before half-time to secure a 2-11 to 0-10 interval lead.
A run of 2-3 without reply in a devastating seven-minute spell turned a 0-6 to 0-7 deficit into a 2-9 to 0-8 lead.
And it was two long-serving stalwarts who did the trick on an afternoon when Seamus Callanan claimed the man-of-the-match award on his first competitive start of the year for Tipperary.
Callanan had missed the entire Allianz Hurling League campaign through injury but timed his recovery to perfection and slotted over five points from play.
But it was captain Eoin Kelly and 2010 Hurler of the Year Lar Corbett who provided the two Tipp goals before half-time.
Cork had missed two early goal chances in the opening minutes as Paudie O’Sullivan saw his effort saved by Brendan Cummins before Pat Horgan whistled a shot inches wide.
But wind-assisted Tipperary were far more clinical with the opportunities that came their way as first Corbett and then Kelly bagged superb goals.
Patrick ‘Bonnar’ Maher did brilliantly to place Corbett for his 20th championship goal in the 28th minute before Kelly grabbed Shane McGrath’s long delivery three minutes later, dodged past two defenders and drilled a low shot past Donal Óg Cusack in the Cork goal.
After half-time, Tipp kept enough breathing space between themselves and Cork, who were heavily reliant on the free-taking skills of Pat Horgan, who scored 0-13, to keep in touch.
But the Rebels hung in and a run of seven unanswered points from the 46th to the 56th minutes hauled them level.
But within a minute, Corbett popped up with an inspirational score to restore Tipperary’s advantage.
Kelly, who hit 1-7, added a free before Noel McGrath pushed Tipp 2-18 to 0-21 clear.
Horgan responded with a free before Dunne sealed the deal to hand three-time All-Ireland SHC medallist Declan Ryan a winning championship debut as Tipperary manager.
In the closing minutes, Ryan’s side turned on the style and closed the game out with the game’s four remaining scores, including two from the mercurial Callanan.
TIPPERARY: B Cummins; P Stapleton, P Curran, M Cahill; D Young, Padraic Maher, J O’Keeffe; G Ryan, S McGrath; S Callanan, N McGrath, Patrick Maher; E Kelly, J O’Brien, L Corbett.
Subs: J Woodlock for S McGrath (inj, 40), C O’Mahony for Young (59), B Dunne for O’Brien (62), P Bourke for Ryan (66).
Scorers for Tipperary: E Kelly 1-07 (0-05f), L Corbett 1-02, S Callanan 0-05, N McGrath 0-04 (2 sls), B Dunne 1-00, J O’Brien 0-02, Patrick Maher & J Woodlock 0-01 each.
CORK: D Óg Cusack; S McDonnell, E Cadogan, S O’Neill; J Gardiner, W Egan, B Murphy; L McLoughlin, P Cronin; B O’Connor, C McCarthy, N McCarthy; L Farrell, P O’Sullivan, P Horgan.
Subs: J O’Connor for C McCarthy (45), J Nagle for O’Neill (45), T Kenny for McLoughlin (51), C Naughton for Horgan (70), K Murphy for O’Sullivan (70).
Scorers for Cork: P Horgan 0-13 (10f), N McCarthy & B O’Connor 0-03 each, J Gardiner, P Cronin, C McCarthy & P O’Sullivan 0-01 each.
Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).