This blogger, amongst others, has pointed out the early similarities between Tipperary this year and 2001. Another occurred at the end of Sunday's game when Liam Sheedy was engaged in rapturous celebration, bringing to mind Nicky English's dance across the same pitch seven years ago, when his charges had prevailed over Clare by a point. The difference then was that game was a straight knock out affair and English's assiduously compiled formation was in danger of being derailed, perhaps permanently. Judging by Sheedy's celebration perhaps he saw the game deep down in the same manner as English, who opined in previewing the game that the winner would almost certainly be in the All-Ireland final. Certainly Tipp did enough to at least elevate themselves to the position as the side most likely to rattle Kilkenny's cage. Whether its a good portent or not their performance in the last ten minutes is obviously what sticks in the mind about a game that oddly lacked the clinical nature and intensity that had been expected. Amidst the feel good atmosphere regarding his return to the no. 1 position it could be forgotten that Brendan Cummins sprayed a couple of short puck-outs straight to opponents in the second half. Also the managements lassitude in giving the speed merchant Cathal Naughton the freedom of the park in the first twenty minutes suggested the nonchalance of the training pitch, where the premier backs were having their adversity put to the test by their manager. But it could be that Cork's failings have just allowed Tipp to iron out crimps that won't be on show again. In the round Stekhanovite zeal trumped casualness. Eamonn Buckley, Shane Maher and Conor O'Brien grew into the game in a manner that evinced that appetite and application, amongst other things, can bring you a long way. In this aspect of the game they have great examples set for them by Eamonn Corcoran and Paul Curran, the latter making a stellar start in his campaign to gain the All- Star at full back so unjustly denied to him in 2006. We are now also becoming used to Conor O' Mahoney's unfussy excellence at centre back, but it is worth taking a pause intermittently to remind oneselves that he is producing a standard of play at no.6 for the blue and gold that has likely not being seen for a generation. ( and remember we are having children later in life in these secular times ) Class Tipperary forwards have been much more ten a penny down the years but whilst Eoin Kelly and Lar Corbett lived up to expectations, bar the slightly overstated contribution of Seamus Callinan, they received little assistance on Sunday and novenas should be led by the Archbishop of Cashel for their good health throughout the summer, something that can't be relied upon on past evidence.
The fascination with Cork will be learning later in the summer whether they contributed to their own downfall, or is the game well and truly up for the team as currently constituted. Certainly at times on Sunday they seemed to be under the misapprehension that Ray Cummins had come out of retirement. The rebels have perhaps fallen too much for the media led perception that their short ball game has been rumbled. As a result of wanting to mix up their tactics they ended up falling between two stools. Managements anxiousness to use Cathal Naughton out the field, but not in a three man half line with the similarly diminutive Ben O' Connor, led to Pat Cronin and Paudie O' Sullivan being ill suited to forage in a depleted inside line. The young Cloyne forward showed some nice touches, but may be better suited to full forward and Sean Moran's remark in Saturday's Irish Times that "if you gave him a brush he'd prefer to stand at an easel than on a ladder" seemed apposite in it's wittiness - as an aside it was only rivaled for quote of the weekend by the sagacious old hand on anfearrua.com who stated that "Gerald McCarthy couldn't coach a frog to hop". Staying with O'Sullivan jnr there have been comments that he shouldn't have been landed with the penalty taking responsibilities, but that opinion masks the fact that this Cork team have never had a natural penalty taker, although this may be partly because their style of play hasn't led to many being awarded. It wasn't all bad news for Cork as Shane O'Neill franked his league form with an assured display and the aforementioned Naughton showed he can be more than a supersub. But ultimately as pointed out in this parish last week Cork are short of standard bearers at the height of their powers who haven't had their hunger sated. Whither Setanta O' Halpin and Thomas O' Leary anyone!