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IT'S hard to believe that eight years have passed since the last championship meeting between these oldest and greatest of rivals, nine years since the crowds burst the banks of the Killinan End and spilled out at the end of one the classic Munster finals.

Remember it? Aidan Ryan pinning his ears back and scorching a hot trail into the same end to score a memorable goal to cap an equally memorable comeback in that amazing replay.

A certain Johnny Leahy was the catalyst for that comeback in '91 when he changed the game by moving to midfield and nine years on Leahy is still the central figure as Tipp go chasing their first provincial crown in six years.

Munster hurling finals between Cork and Tipp have a special appeal.

The romance of the fixture was encapsulated best by the late writer Raymond Smith, himself a Tipp man, who expressed the wish that if he was to die it would be on the same Killinan End watching a Munster final between these sides!

It's almost as if a generation has passed since those great games of the late '80s and early '90s. In truth it has.

The rise of Clare in Munster has forced both counties back to the drawing-board in the meantime.

The post Loughnane era begins in essence tomorrow. In the eight years since they last met in championship a lot has changed.

In addition to the three Munster and two All-Ireland titles they won Clare have managed to change the thinking in the province.

Cork and Tipp have both had their bad times since '91 and '92, Cork more so than Tipp who reached Munster finals in '96 and '97.

Now they are reaping their rewards from good underage teams and look set to re-establish their dominance down south.

Cork's All-Ireland winning '95 minor team blossomed into under 21 champions in '97 and '98 reaping the talents of Donal Og Cusack, Diarmuid O'Sullivan, Wayne Sherlock, Mickey O'Connell, Derek Barrett, Sean Og O hAilpin, Timmy McCarthy and Joe Deane.

Tipp's underage prospectus covers a couple of teams - the '95 All-Ireland winning under 21 team which featured Paul Shelley, Brendan Cummins, Liam Cahill and Tommy Dunne united with the 1996 minor team (Eugene O'Neill, John Carroll, Eamonn Corcoran).

Significantly, Cork have had an advantage over Tipp at under 21 level in recent years, the only decent form guide on offer for tomorrow apart from their league meeting in March which Tipp won.

Cork were never 'off' for the league but their preparations have nevertheless been near perfect, reflected in the condition of a player like Diarmuid O'Sullivan who has lost a stone in weight this season.

Jimmy Barry Murphy has been blessed with a relatively injury free run and on the evidence of their win over Limerick Cork still have quite a bit in hand.

Tipp have come through two tough tests against Waterford and Clare.

Beating Clare and ridding themselves of that bogey was always the top priority for this team.

After that high they may have some difficulty repeating the undoubted performance of the hurling year so far.

Cork will be fresh, last year's campaign was straightforward and has hardly taxed this young team.

There's better shape to their forwards with Alan Browne's return Joe Deane has yet to have areally big game which could come tomorrow and with the usual nuts and bolts in good working order in defence Cork can put back to back titles together in Munster for the first time since 1986.


CORK and Tipperary have met in 31 Munster finals with Tipperary winning 17.

THIS year's meeting will be the 72nd Munster championship meeting between the sides including replays.

Six of the games were drawn, three were unfinished or abandoned with both counties currently on 31 wins each.

CORK'S best run of Munster final wins over Tipperary was four between 1969 and 1985.

TIPPERARY scored five Munster final wins on the trot over Cork in 1960,'61, '64,'65 and '68.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Keys, Colm
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 1, 2000
Previous Article:GAA: A champagne performance is needed if Cork are to burst the confident Tipp bubble; MUNSTER HURLING FINAL: Cork v Tipperary ANTHONY DALY:...
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