Hurling & Camogie

Cork send Tipp crashing out of Munster Senior Hurling Championship

Clare beat Waterford in Sunday’s other game

Alan Connolly
Alan Connolly celebrates scoring Cork’s first goal in Thurles yesterday (Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

FOUR teams are left in contention for three places after Alan Connolly’s third hat-trick in two months powered Cork to an 18-point trouncing of Tipperary.

After Clare’s nail-biting 4-21 to 2-26 victory over Waterford at Cusack Park, the Premier are the first team to be eliminated from the Munster Championship.

The 4-30 to 1-21 win lifts the Rebels to second in the standings, tied on four points between table-toppers Limerick and Clare. Waterford, on three points, need to beat the All-Ireland champions next weekend to progress.

At a sold-out FBD Semple Stadium, Cork broke the Munster round-robin scoring record in front of a Rebel majority 43,972 crowd, taking their four-game total to a whopping 11-107.

It was the Tipp supporters who raised the first big cheer within 15 seconds of the throw-in. Noel McGrath’s visionary pass picked out Conor Bowe’s through run and while Patrick Collins saved, Mark Kehoe was on hand to tap in.

Cork had an immediate goal chance in response but Barry Hogan pulled off a flying save from Brian Hayes. They were nonetheless able to replicate some of their puck-out successes that troubled Limerick.

They were level eight times until Connolly’s first goal on the stroke of half-time. Shane Barrett’s run created space and the Blackrock poacher beat two defenders to spin his shot into the far top corner. 1-15 to 1-12 at the break.

From there, they outgunned the hosts by 3-15 to 0-9.

In the 40th minute, Connolly turned over the struggling Cathal Barrett from a short puck-out and wrong-footed Barry Hogan with his reverse strike.

Hayes wafted another chance wide before Connolly had his third in the 47th minute after a sharp passing exchange with Luke Meade.

That sparked a 1-8 unanswered burst as Tipp fell away. The final quartet came from impact sub Shane Kingston to make it 3-25 to 1-16. A 15-point difference.

Conor Lehane added another with his first touch and the home exodus hit its peak after Barrett punished Bowe’s sloppy pass by feeding Patrick Horgan for a fourth goal on the hour.

Cheered on by 19,893 in Ennis, Clare ground out a one-point victory over former manager Davy Fitzgerald.

They were repeatedly able to get in behind the Waterford defence for a pair of first-half goals. In the 20th minute, Mark Rodgers gobbled up a misplaced pass and found Darragh Lohan drifting unmarked towards the posts. He made no mistake for his first Championship goal.

Their second, seven minutes later, arrived in similar circumstances. Cian Galvin produced the intercept and this time it was David Fitzgerald all alone to sweep home.

Waterford finished the stronger, though, and a four-point streak helped to close within five, 2-13 to 0-14, at half-time.

A third goal from Rodgers, breaking onto a long Diarmuid Ryan clearance, gave Clare their opening score of the second half on 40 minutes.

But Waterford were having the better of things. They cancelled out that score with three points, two from Kevin Mahony, and were level when Stephen Bennett’s superb solo goal along the endline was followed by a Dessie Hutchinson free. 3-14 to 1-20 now.

Tony Kelly made his return from injury and his 59th-minute goal, a wickedly spinning shot that just escaped the keeper’s clutches, restored Clare’s four-point cushion.

But a hat-trick of points, including a Pádraig Fitzgerald pair, levelled again, 4-17 to 1-26.

Clare kicked for home with two from Ian Galvin and another by Peter Duggan but when Ryan fouled Patrick Fitzgerald in stoppage time, Shane Bennett buried the penalty.

Level again but not for long as Rodgers’s last-puck 65 separated the sides.