Cork 1-11 Tipperary 2-18
Eamon O’Shea’s Tipperary demolished Munster champions Cork by ten points in the All-Ireland SHC semi-final at Croke Park.
Séamus Callanan, a leading contender for the Hurler of the Year award, scored 2-04 and John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer added six points from play for the rampant Premier County.
Cork, beaten All-Ireland finalists in 2013, were simply outclassed and played second fiddle throughout after a five-week break since their provincial success.
In front of 68,728 spectators at GAA HQ, Tipp were just two points clear at half-time, 1-07 to 0-08, but they ran riot in the second half to book a final showdown with Kilkenny on September 7.
Tipp and Brian Cody’s Cats will meet in the Liam MacCarthy Cup decider for the fourth time in six seasons, with Tipp seeking to claim the title for the first time since the epic 2010 win.
Their manager Eamon O’Shea, coach four years ago, had his homework done on Cork as a short puckout strategy employed by impressive goalkeeper Darren Gleeson worked a treat in the first half.
But the Rebels, who struggled to reach anything approaching their best form, registered nine wides before half-time, including four from the normally reliable Patrick Horgan, and followed that up with seven more in the second half.
Conor Lehane managed four points from play but the other five forwards could only muster two points from play between them.
Horgan, who had scored 2-41 in the championship before today, was restricted to just two pointed frees and the Glen Rovers hitman was blotted out by outstanding corner back Cathal Barrett.
O’Shea opted to leave Michael Cahill on the bench, despite his return to fitness, but the Tipp defence was imperious throughout, with James Barry excellent at full-back and Pádraic Maher a tower of strength in the half-back line.
At midfield, Shane McGrath and James Woodlock split six points between them and ruled the roost against much-vaunted Cork pair Aidan Walsh and Daniel Kearney.
Once again, Tipp had a matchwinner in Callanan and his 2-4 tally takes the championship haul of the Drom & Inch hitman to 7-38.
And it was Callanan who grabbed the game’s opening goal in the sixth minute, burying a brilliant strike past Anthony Nash at the Hill 16 end after Shane O’Neill had failed to deal with Shane McGrath’s delivery from the endline.
The workrate of the Tipperary forward line was a hallmark of this display and on the half hour mark, O’Dwyer typified this when he blocked down Cahalane on the Hogan Stand side of the field before floating over a superb point.
At half-time, Tipp had that two-point lead despite playing against the wind but Cork were still in it, despite that first half profligacy.
Shane McGrath, Woodlock and Callanan tagged on points as Cork, who would register just 1-3 in the second half, began to lose touch.
And Callanan’s second goal, in the 47th minute, was another classy finish as he flashed a rising drive beyond Nash after taking a pass from Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher.
As Cork searched desperately for a way back into the game, Gleeson touched Conor Lehane’s goalbound effort over the crossbar with 15 minutes remaining.
And Gleeson, beaten by Rob O’Shea’s consolation goal with three minutes remaining, pulled off a fine double save deep in stoppage time, with the second stop from Horgan particularly eye-catching.
O’Shea, who stated that Gleeson “came of age”, will be pleased with the nature of Tipp’s performance but there is still room for improvement ahead of what promises to be another titanic clash with Kilkenny.
Lar Corbett was substituted after a scoreless contribution and while ‘Bonner’ Maher didn’t raise a flag either, O’Shea later revealed that the industrious forward was carrying an injury from early in the game.
And Maher’s switch to the inside line was vital as Tipp pushed on and put Cork away with clinical ease.
Tipp, who hit 2-17 from play, can now look ahead to Kilkenny with some cause for optimism.
CORK: A Nash (0-02f); C Joyce, S O’Neill, S McDonnell; D Cahalane, M Ellis, L McLoughlin; D Kearney, A Walsh (0-01); S Harnedy (0-01), B Cooper, C Lehane (0-04); P Horgan (0-02f), P Cronin, A Cadogan (0-01).
Subs: P O’Sullivan for Cadogan (46), S Moylan for Cronin (46), R O’Shea (1-00) for Walsh (55), J Coughlan for Harnedy (64).
TIPPERARY: D Gleeson; P Stapleton, J Barry, C Barrett; K Bergin, B Maher, Pádraic Maher; S McGrath (0-03), J Woodlock (0-03); G Ryan, Patrick Maher, N McGrath (0-02); J O’Dwyer (0-06), S Callanan (2-04, 0-01f), L Corbett.
Subs: D Maher for Ryan (57), E Kelly for Corbett (60), J Forde for Patrick Maher (63), M Cahill for S McGrath (65), C O’Brien for Woodlock (69).
Referee: J Owens (Wexford).