Tipperary are back.
After last year’s early exit from the Championship, gone before the middle of June, and a disappointing League campaign in the spring there dark mutterings that the end was coming for this golden generation.
It would have been a sad end for a team stuffed with fine hurlers and a poor return for their prodigious talents.
But in their opening Munster Senior Hurling Championship game of the summer at Páirc Uí Chaoimh manager Liam Sheedy, back in charge after he left in the wake of masterminding their 2010 All-Ireland triumph, worked his magic again.
In front of a crowd of 30,274, squinting in the Leeside sunshine, they overpowered Cork with an impressive display that will serve as a warning to the rest of Munster and beyond.
They had eleven different scorers, every single player in the starting team from right wing-back to left corner-forward on target.
A bullet of a goal from Cork captain Seamus Harnedy raised the temperature slightly coming down the closing stretch, but the result here wasn’t in any real doubt in the final quarter.
John McGrath finishes off a sublime Tipperary attack as Liam Sheedy's press home their advantage against Cork— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) May 12, 2019
Watch match highlights of @OfficialCorkGAA and @TipperaryGAA on @rte2 tonight at 9.30pm pic.twitter.com/KSatqTQM2M
The half-back line, all the Mahers - Brendan, Ronan and Paudie, were dominant. Noel McGrath was the star midfielder on show and their forwards shot the light out.
Winning on the road in the Munster championship isn’t an easy thing to do, as the statistics prove, so this is a big boost with two home games still to come.
The fact that the winning margin was so comfortable could have a bearing in the final reckoning, as scoring difference may be the deciding factor in the table.
For Cork, this is a blow and their hopes of a three in-a-row of Munster titles are on the canvas, struggling to get up.
They were bossed on their home ground and outside of Eoin Cadogan, their best defender performing under extreme duress, and the always heroic Patrick Horgan, scorer 0-14, there were few players that will be pleased with their performances.
Their next assignment is away to All-Ireland champions Limerick. Another loss their and their summer could be over already. Tipp host Waterford, both games next Sunday.
The touch paper on this one was lit from the off, Tipperary finding the back of the net after just thee minutes.
Cork’s Tim O’Mahony lost the ball coming out of defence, Patrick ‘Bonner’’ Maher pounced and sent it in to Seamus Callanan, the arch predator needing no more encouragement to stick it past Anthony Nash in the Cork goal.
The Rebels’ plans were upset when influential midfielder Bill Cooper pulled up injured in the pre-match warm-up and had to limp off the field. He was replaced by Robbie O’Flynn with Luke Meade moving into the middle and it clearly took them time to get their heads around the rejig.
After 16 minutes Tipp had stormed into a six-point lead and were dominating the key sectors.
The home side were struggling on their restarts. When the ball was contested, more often then not they were beaten and even when Nash found his targets their touch let them down and allowed Tipp in.
In those first 16 minutes they only managed six points, just two of them from play as once again the Rebels were heavily reliant on the free-taking excellence of Horan.
Then it all started to click into gear for them. In the next 12 minutes they rattled seven without reply and Nash got down smartly, low and to his right to stop a Jason Forde penalty awarded after Niall O’Leary bundled over Niall O’Meara in the square.
In this frenetic period referee Sean Cleere was downed with a sliotar to the back of the head. He required treatment, but there was no need for a heady injury assessment pitchside.
The visitors got back to grips with this one, Noel McGrath impressive in the middle of the field poaching two points from distance before the break into the formidable breeze that was blowing from the Blackrock end of the ground.
They moved back too three ahead when 2016 Hurler of the year Callanan brought his first half total to 1-03, a Horgan free with the last puck before the whistle bringing Cork to within a point and leaving the scores at the break 1-13 to 0-15.
In the quarter of an hour after the restart Tipp kicked hard for home and they shook Cork off. When John McGrath battered in their second goal it moved them into an eight-point lead, 2-20 to 0-18, and there was no need to look over their shoulders.
Their forwards continued to keep the umpires busy, John O’Dwyer particularly impressive as he notched seven from play.
Tipperary: Brian Hogan; Cathal Barrett, James Barry, Seán O’Brien; Brendan Maher (0-02), Padraic Maher (0-01), Ronan Maher (0-01); Noel McGrath (0-04, 1 ’65'), Michael Breen (0-01); Niall O’Meara (0-01), John O’Dwyer (0-07), Patrick Maher (0-01); John McGrath (1-01), Seamus Callanan (1-04), Jason Forde (0-05, 3f).
Subs: Dan McCormack for Breen 48 mins; Jake Morris for Forde 54 mins; Willie Connors for O’Meara 62 mins; Mark Kehoe for Patrick Maher 65 mins; Cian Darcy for Noel McGrath 68 mins.
Cork: Anthony Nash; Eoin Cadogan, Niall O’Leary, Seán O’Donoghue; Christopher Joyce, Mark Coleman, Tim O’Mahony (0-01); Darragh Fitzgibbon, Luke Meade; Robbie O’Flynn (0-01), Seamus Harnedy (1-02), Daniel Kearney, Conor Lehane (0-03) Shane Kingston (0-03), Patrick Horgan (0-14, 10f).
Subs: Damien Cahalane for Joyce 43 mins; Aidan Walsh for O’Flynn 53 mins; Declan Dalton for Kearney 64 mins; Jack O’Connor for Kingston 68 mins.
Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny)