Settled into Fitzgerald’s in Sandycove to watch Cork and Tipp last Sunday. Sitting in front of me was an intense young Cork guy who was ignoring his comely raven haired girl friend as he followed every puck – groaning and cheering as the match ebbed and flowed. I was with a Macroom man who behaved in a more restrained manner but still burned with the Cork passion for hurling - and with the tribal imperative to beat Tipp.
I kept quiet as Cork dominated the first quarter and it looked as if Tipp would be buried by half time. My phone grew hot with text messages from gloating friends in Cork. My Macroom mate made consoling noises. Then Eoin Kelly got half a chance, pivoted and flashed an unstoppable shot past the Cork keeper. The game turned on that instant.
Tipp waxed and Cork waned – especially after Paudie O’Sullivan missed a penalty – and Tipp were pulling away at the end. They looked fitter and more battle hardened than Cork and it seems their pro-longed league campaign did them a power of good. I also think that those three tough matches against Limerick last year brought on a lot of their younger players.
My phone grew cold again as my Cork buddies became mysteriously incommunicado. A few minutes before the end, lover boy in front of me got up and stormed out – followed at an Arabic distance by his foxy paramour.
Now it gets interesting. If Tipp beat Clare or Limerick in the Muinster final – and current form says they will – then they go straight to the All-Ireland semi-final and avoid Kilkenny. Dare we hope.