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Monday 18 December 2017

Premier's reserve forces can Tipp balance on Cork

HAS there ever been a set of benches with such illustrious members as in Cork tomorrow?

In the red corner, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín and John Gardiner, two pillars of the Rebels' golden era of the past decade, whilst propping up the Premier subs we have Eoin Kelly and Lar Corbett -- the protagonists of Tipperary's most recent All-Ireland wins.

And it could well come down to that. Tipp's bench -- and their superior fitness -- bailed them out against Limerick and for all the malaise which afflicted them early on it that match, their final 15 minutes represented something at least close to their awesome pomp. Ó hAilpín and Gardiner are players who could easily steady the Rebel ship if they hit rocky waters but in Kelly and Corbett -- despite obvious concerns about form and fitness respectively -- are potential gamebreakers.

It must be said, however, that Cork never, ever have a hang up about Tipp and if this team, awash with new, vibrant talent can register a victory in the first season of their new cycle, Jimmy Barry Murphy could be on the cusp of creating a 'monster'.

They'll miss Donal Óg Cusack, though. Anthony Nash has studied under the great man's excellence for years now, but only time will tell as to whether his shot-stopping or puck-outs are of the same standard as Cusack's.

In Conor Lehane and Darren Sweetnam, Cork possess two of the most accomplished young hurlers in the country and Lehane will certainly take some stopping.

Against that, he is likely to come into direct combat with Pádraic Maher, the Rolls Royce of modern wing-backs and a man for whom physical combat and hurling mix with consummate ease.

Patrick 'Bonner' Maher is a huge addition to the Tipp attack and with his direct lines of running, he will open up gaps for the likes of Noel McGrath and the rest of the Tipp attack.

Notably, the Tipp bench is stronger now than it was last year and with Corbett, Kelly and Seamus Callanan all ready to be called on, Tipp should just shade it in a frantic closing act.

ODDS: Cork 6/4, Draw 10/1, Tipperary 4/6

VERDICT: Tipperary

CORK: A Nash; S O'Neill, B Murphy, C O'Sullivan; T Kenny, E Cadogan, W Egan; D Sweetnam, L McLoughlin; C Lehane, P Cronin, C Naughton; J Coughlan, P O'Sullivan, P Horgan.

TIPPERARY: B Cummins; C O'Brien, P Curran, M Cahill; T Stapleton, C O'Mahony, Pádraic Maher; B Maher, S McGrath; G Ryan, Patrick Maher, P Bourke; B O'Meara, J O'Brien, N McGrath.

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