Cork 0-21 Tipperary 2-3 – U-21 Munster Football

Cork: J. Mellet; L. Jennings; D. Cahalane; A. Cronin (D. O’Donovan); P. Daly; T. Clancy; J. Wall (T. Clancy); M. O’Leary (0-3); A. Walsh (D. Nation); C. Sheehan (0-4); M. Collins (0-9, 0-6f); J. O’Rourke; D. Og Hodnett (E. Buckley); B. O’Driscoll (0-3; B. Coughlan); P. Honohan (0-2).

Tipperary: J. English; R. Kiely; J. Ryan; M. Hanly (K. O’Riordan); D. Leahy (1-0); E. Kendrick; J. O’Callaghan; D. Heffernan; P. Acheson (0-1); B. Hewitt (M. O’Dwyer) ;A. Moloney (T. Hanly); A. Matassa; C. Sweeney (1-0); D. Butler (L. Boland 0-1); D. McGrath (0-1f).

Despite the completely one-sided scoreline, the couple of thousand attendees got an entertaining match with plenty of excellent score-taking. Cork were every bit as dominant as the scoreline – more so in fact, considering the lucky nature of the Tipperary goals – and look like a well-trained confident team ready to give both Munster and the All-Ireland a crack. It would be easy to say all of the Cork players played well but things weren’t quite that simple. The full-back line struggled, seeming disorganized and lacking in confidence and physicality. Both goals were preventable, the first particularly bad and given away thanks to sloppy passing, lax marking and poor tackling. Similarly Cork largely failed to create any clear goal-scoring chances, although this is hardly a problem when you point twenty-one times.

Elsewhere Cork were very impressive. Our half-back line was solid, Clancy consistent in possession while Daly was the pick of the bunch, physical and excellent throughout. Our midfield was excellent – Aidan Walsh was his typical self, winning good ball in the air and driving forward whenever possible, while Michael O’Leary really stood out going forward, grabbing three clinical points. Both make up a physical and aggressive midfield partnership. Ciaran Sheehan was close to man of the match and gave a masterclass in point-taking in the second half to the delight of the crowd, while his physical strength and power stood out hugely. John O’Rourke is a real gem – only out of Minors he is exceptional in possession and has the fundamental skills of the game – his pick-ups, soloing, handpassing etc – down perfectly. Beyond Sheehan and Walsh he looks to me to be the most obvious future senior footballer in the side. Collins was deservedly MOTM – his free-taking was clinical, while his shooting from play and passing were accurate throughout. The inside forwards weren ‘t quite as good but still played very well – Barry O’Driscoll’s willing runs and pace stood out, while Honohan and Hodnett tried very hard, even if both largely failed to create a final product.

Regarding Tipp, they looked like a team that had never met before or trained together before. To be fair Evans is an excellent coach, and underage teams playing away from home can be completely erratic. The biggest gap between the teams was in terms of physicality – Tipp simply looked small, not just compared to Walsh and Sheehan who are big at senior level but throughout the pitch, the Cork players taller and bulkier. Their full-back line struggled to deal with the movement of their men, the half-back line was cleaned out completely while the midfield failed to win any aerial ball with the middle third second to almost all breaking ball. To be fair, Acheson looked decent on the ball and drove forward a few times while O’Leary took his goal well. Beyond that, Tipp had nothing to show for their trip down. For Cork, its Kerry in Cork in the Munster Final in a fortnight’s time.

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