Tipperary's defence of the All-Ireland SHC remains alive after they battled hard to hold off Cork at the LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick on Saturday evening.

Only a late surge, powered by Jake Morris’s 68th-minute goal, pushed Liam Sheedy’s side clear of their neighbours, who had produced a good fightback to come from five points down in the second half.

Overall, Tipp were the better side, though a tally of 18 wides across the game as a whole could have been costly.

They will have to improve if their crown is to be retained, but they will look forward to the quarter-final draw with some optimism, not least the fact that younger players like Michael Breen and sub Willie Connors drove them on on a day when some more experienced stars didn’t hit the heights.

Much of the first half was played in monsoon-like conditions, with the wind favouring Tipperary but they struggled to harness that advantage as they shot 12 wides in the opening period.

Four frees from Jason Forde, allied to a fine point from midfielder Michael Breen, had them 0-4 to 0-1 in front after 14 minutes, with Declan Dalton having Cork’s only response, though just before the water-break Patrick Horgan’s free from the 65 cut the deficit to a goal.

When play resumed, three bad wides from Tipp brought their tally to eight by the 20th minute and they were punished as a loose Breen handpass was picked up by Horgan in midfield and he was able charge towards goal before sending a low shot past Brian Hogan to level the game.

The Rebels had the lead when Jack O’Connor’s hard work forced a free which Horgan converted and Breen’s equaliser was answered by a well-worked Cork effort finished by Tim O’Mahony.

Tipp finished the half strongly, however, as Forde got his first point, his first from play, before Dan McCormack sent over a good shot to put them back in front and a Forde free left it 0-9 to 1-4.

The rain subsided at half-time but the wind remained strong, with Cork’s Shane Kingston reducing the gap on the resumption. However, over-elaboration was costly for them as Tipp benefited from the directness of sub Willie Connors, who scored one point and set up another for Breen, his third.

Ronan Maher of Tipperary evades Cork's Shane Kingston.

That gave Tipp a three-point lead and though a Séamus Harnedy point and Horgan free had back within one, the All-Ireland champions looked to have struck a decisive blow as Jake Morris sent a delivery to Jason Forde, who held off Colm Spillane before finishing to the net.

When Séamus Callanan got what proved to be his only score of the again – Connors again the provider – Tipp were 1-12 to 1-7 ahead, but dug deep to get themselves back into it.

Harnedy was outstanding in this period and, just after the water-break, he scored his fourth point to leave a point in it, Tipp 1-13 to 1-12 in front.

Breen had his fourth, Connors providing the spadework once more but Cork had the momentum and a free and a 65 from Horgan sandwiched another from Harnedy as they led for the first time since the opening half.

The upper hand went back to Tipp as Dan McCormack and sub Paul Flynn had points but Horgan levelled with five minutes left.

McCormack set up Breen to put Tipp back in front and, after Cork sub Darragh Fitzgibbon was wide with an equalising effort, Tipp made them pay. Inevitably, Connors was central to it as superb play from him gave Morris a chance and he fired home for a four-point lead, buttressed by a second Paul Flynn point.

While Cork did have a Bill Cooper response deep in injury time, a full-blown comeback was beyond them and Tipp march on.

Tipperary: Brian Hogan; Cathal Barrett, Ronan Maher, Alan Flynn; Niall O’Meara, Brendan Maher, Pádraic Maher; Noel McGrath, Michael Breen (0-05); Dan McCormack (0-02), John McGrath, Patrick Maher; Jason Forde (1-06, 0-05 frees), Séamus Callanan (0-02), Jake Morris (1-00).

Subs: Willie Connors (0-01) for John McGrath (33), Paul Flynn (0-02) for Patrick Maher (53), Paddy Cadell for Noel McGrath (59), Dillon Quirke for Forde (70).

Cork: Anthony Nash; Seán O’Donoghue, Damien Cahalane, Colm Spillane; Mark Coleman; Robert Downey, Tim O’Mahony (0-01); Bill Cooper (0-01); Robbie O’Flynn, Luke Meade; Declan Dalton (0-01), Shane Kingston (0-01), Séamus Harnedy (0-05); Patrick Horgan (1-08, 0-07 frees, 0-01 65), Jack O’Connor.

Subs: Stephen McDonnell for Downey (48), Darragh Fitzgibbon for Dalton (51), Conor Lehane for O’Connor (60), Aidan Walsh for Meade (69), Billy Hennessy for Kingston (70).

Referee: James Owens (Wexford).