Cork and Tipperary face off for the second semi-final of the 2014 All-Ireland Hurling Senior Championship on Sunday at Croke Park, with Kilkenny awaiting the winner in the final.
Kilkenny saw off Limerick 2-13 to 0-17 last weekend, but it is almost impossible to call who will be joining them in the final.
These two sides have met on many occasions over the years—82 times to be exact, both sides with 37 wins apiece with seven draws and one abandonment—but never at this late stage of the championship.
Thus there is a huge amount at stake in the Croke Park clash. See below for the match time and a preview of what is set to be a mighty close encounter.
Who: Cork vs. Tipperary
Where: Croke Park
Date: August 17
Time: 3:30 p.m. (local time)
Cork finally got their long-term trophy hoodoo off their backs in July by beating Limerick in the final of the Munster Cup, having lost eight previous major finals in a row.
One of those was last year's All-Ireland final loss to Clare, which should see Cork's players desperate to reach this year's showpiece to try to put things right.
Pat Horgan acknowledges the importance of their Munster Cup victory but says that since that win, they have been completely focused on Sunday's semi-final, per Pat Nolan in the Irish Mirror:
We had to do something to get a cup, get a bit of silverware. We had the night and we enjoyed it, but since then it’s been nothing but trying to be 100% for the Tipp game.
Cork look likely to be buoyed by the return of their captain, Pa Cronin, for Sunday's encounter having previously been a major doubt, per the Gaelic Athletic Association:
The form book does not look to be working in Cork's favour having been defeated by Tipperary in five of their last six meetings. However, the last of those was two years ago, and the sides that will be facing up to each other on Sunday bear little resemblance.
But one factor that may be key in a match so difficult to call is momentum, and Tipperary certainly have that.
Having had to come through qualifying and a quarter-final, they have three recent wins under their belt to fill them with confidence for the last-four clash.
Most recently they eased past Dublin 2-23 to 0-16 at Semple Stadium to set up the clash with Cork, although coach Eamon O'Shea was not overly impressed with that performance and highlighted a need to improve dramatically for the Cork match, per RTE Sport:
I know it’s a cliche, but we have a lot of improving to do before we’d even keep the ball pucked out to Cork.
Okay, It was a good day for us, but from my point of view there’s a lot of work to be done.
Anybody out there with a hurling brain can see that we have to improve to even compete.
However, we’re still there and we’re still standing.
No doubt O'Shea will have his men in shape to face up to Cork for what is expected to be a high-scoring, open game.
Many will be hoping for a repeat of the classic encounter between these two sides from the 1984 Munster final, shared here by Tipperary:
Those at Croke Park on Sunday should be in for an absolute cracker of a game, with Cork potentially just the favourites considering their silverware-winning form.
However, Kilkenny's opponents for the final will have to come through a tough encounter either way, with each side well matched.
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