GAA: Jamesie O'Connor previews Cork's All-Ireland semi-final with Tipperary
Last Updated: 21/08/14 1:10pm
Sky Sports expert Jamesie O’Connor says Tipperary’s in-form forwards can fire them to victory in Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final against Cork.
The Premier County have scored 10 goals in their last three championship games as they responded to their Munster semi-final loss to Limerick with impressive victories over Galway, Offaly and Dublin.
The counties served up a high-scoring thriller when they met in the National League quarter-final earlier this year and Clare legend O’Connor is expecting another end-to-end affair.
Cork v Tipperary
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“Tipp went 2-4 to 0-0 up after eight minutes in that game and a one-sided contest looked on the cards, but within a few minutes Seamus Harnedy had gotten a couple of great goals for Cork and they were right back in it,” he said.
“From there to the finish it was a high-scoring, open game and I think we’ll have a repeat on Sunday. There is a lot of firepower in both teams and the conditions will also be more conducive to the type of hurling that we’re hoping to see, compared to the misery that Kilkenny and Limerick had to hurl through last weekend.
“For me, it’s going to come down to whether Tipperary can break that Cork defence down. Tipp are back scoring goals and they’re coming up against a Cork defence that hasn’t been conceding them.
“With Lar Corbett back and playing well, there is plenty of X-factor in that Tipp attack. They have too many players who have shown form in the last five or six weeks, such as Seamus Callanan, John O’Dwyer, Noel McGrath and Corbett.
“If their full-back line holds up, I have a sneaking feeling that Tipperary might edge it.”
Cork shipped five goals in last year’s All-Ireland final replay loss to Clare but they have proved a much tougher nut to crack this summer, conceding just three goals in four games en route to a first Munster title since 2006.
“You have to give a lot of credit to the Cork management,” said O’Connor. “They obviously looked at the five goals they conceded in the All-Ireland final and there has been a realisation that they had to make themselves a bit more settled and structurally sound defensively.
“Mark Ellis is playing a more defensive role and they are more conscious about not getting dragged out the field to the extent that Clare did. With the forward line Cork have, if they don’t concede goals, the opposition will have to rack up a huge points tally to beat them.
For me, it’s going to come down to whether Tipperary can break that Cork defence down. Tipp are back scoring goals and they’re coming up against a Cork defence that hasn’t been conceding them.
“The Cork players have responded in the right way to the disappointment of last year. They resolved to go back and work harder and the management have found further players. You have Paudie O’Sullivan coming back from injury while William Egan is also bursting to get into the team. There is competition for places.
“Cork won Munster but I don’t think that’s a result of looking back on last year. They are looking forward and there were no doubts coming out of Páirc Uí Chaoimh after the Munster final that the better team had won.”
While Cork were claiming provincial glory, Tipperary were building up a head of steam through the qualifiers. Eamonn O’Shea’s side were convincing winners over Dublin in last month’s quarter-final and O’Connor says they are capable of repeating their 2010 All-Ireland success, when they also came through the back door.
“There are a lot of parallels with 2010,” he said. “Cork beat them in Páirc Uí Chaoimh that year and it was a substandard performance by Tipp. They certainly weren’t at their best against Limerick but they still had the opportunities to win that match and didn’t take them.
“I’ve spoken before about the position they found themselves in during the Galway match, six or seven points down with 20 minutes left and the response they were able to summon. You cannot place a high enough premium on finding form and momentum in the championship and Tipperary have found it.
“They’ve had a nice run of games as well. They needed a serious opponent after losing to Limerick and Galway provided them with a stiff challenge. The Offaly game provided an opportunity for their players - in particular their forwards - to build on that form and they won that game emphatically.
“Tipp were also pretty emphatic winners over Dublin and the most pleasing perspective for Eamon O’Shea from that game was that while the forwards still amassed a big tally, they looked very sound defensively.
“Tipp will feel that they are in a good place now and their players will have grown up watching and hearing stories about Tipperary-Cork games. There is massive tradition and history between these two counties, and the fact it’s their first meeting at Croke Park brings a different angle to it. It’s all about who brings their ‘A’ game.”
Watch Cork v Tipperary live on Sky Sports 3 on Sunday from 3pm