With all due respects to the games that have been played to date in the 2017 hurling season, the championship begins in earnest this Sunday, May 21 with the enduring Munster championship clash of Tipperary and Cork in the quarter-final, to be played in famed Semple Stadium, Thurles, with a 4pm throw-in.
Adding spice to this fabled clash is the fact Tipp are reigning Munster and All-Ireland champions and regarded by many as the no 1 team in this year’s competition, despite the demolition job done on them by Galway in the league final, which will hardly have helped Cork hopes!
A repeat of last year’s opener again played in Thurles, which the hosts won very comfortably 0-22 to 0-13 in dreadful conditions, will be the 84th championship encounter on the field of play between the sides.
Tipperary with 39 wins just shade the head-to-heads by 1, with the Rebels recording 38 wins and 6 games drawn in the period from 27th May, 1888.
Tipperary hold the upper hand in the ten championship encounters from 2005, winning 7 to Cork’s 3, as follows: 26th June, 2005 – Cork 1-21 Tipperary 1-16 (Munster final, Cork going on to win the All-Ireland title for the 30th and last time to date. 25th June, 2006 – Cork 2-14 Tipperary 1-14 (Munster final). 14th July, 2007 – Tipperary 2-16 Cork 1-18 (All-Ireland qualifier). 8th June, 2008 – Tipperary 1-19 Cork 1-13 (Munster s/f). 31st May, 2009 – Tipperary 1-19 Cork 0-19 (Munster q/f). 30th May, 2010 – Cork 3-15 Tipperary 0-14 (Munster q/f). 29th May, 2011 – Tipperary 3-22 – Cork 0-23 (Munster q/f). 24th June, 2012 – Tipperary 1-22 Cork 0-24 (Munster s/f). 17th August, 2014 – Tipperary 2-18 Cork 1-11 (All-Ireland semi-final). 22nd May, 2016 – Tipperary 0-22 Cork 0-13 (Munster q/f).
In the all-time roll of honour Cork have won 95 major senior hurling titles (30 All-Irelands, 51 Munster titles and 14 national leagues) to 86 (26 All-Irelands, 40 Munster titles and 20 national leagues).
With the pendulum, very much swinging Tipperary’s way it looks like the Rebels have it all to do on Sunday, though history tells us the unexpected often happens in the heat of championship action when least expected and a return fixture on Sunday, May 28 following stalemate on Sunday cannot be ruled out.
After all it was on the 8th July, 1991 (Tipperary 2-16 Cork 4-10) when the hurling giants last drew a Munster championship tie, with the Premier men prevailing 4-19 to 4-15 in the replay!