After the one-sided game in Portlaoise on Saturday, the competitive and entertaining fare served up in the Munster senior hurling championship in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday was most welcome.
When the game stepped up a pace in the second half it was the reigning champions, Tipperary, that had the experience and the stronger subs bench to secure victory over Cork.
This was far from a classic, but hurling badly needed a competitive contest on a weekend when three other championship ties were won by an average of almost 20 points. Tipperary deserved to succeed and having to play the final 20 minutes a man down did not prove too much of a handicap.
Scores were swapped almost every minute in the opening half, an indication that both defences were finding it difficult to handle the opposing attacks. The Rebels led by 0-14 to 0-12 at the interval and one expected that little would separate the sides in the end.
The magnificent Bonner Maher was central to almost every Tipperary attack. Although he did not score his ability to win possession and lay the ball off to a colleague resulted in many scores.
Maher gave his immediate opponent Eoin Cadogan a tortuous afternoon. I was very surprised that the Cork mentors did not switch Cadogan with either of the wing-backs. In many ways Maher’s style would have suited John Gardiner, who was warming the subs bench on the sideline.
While there were never more than a couple of points between the sides, Tipperary’s goal was a major psychological boost. It was a well-executed score with Lar Corbett spotting an opening to set up Noel McGrath.
Cork manager, Jimmy Barry Murphy has clearly set out his stall to work with young players. All are excellent hurlers and will certainly benefit from Barry Murphy’s tutelage.
However, when the game hit its highest intensity level in the second half the Tipperary experience shone through. It needed to, because Cork kept pressing and but for some poor decision making they might have forced a draw, or even won.
Paraic Maher, who had a subdued first half, sprung into life after the break to give an outstanding display. Somewhat like the game in Portlaoise, Cork was rather naive by constantly raining the sliotar down on the left half back.
From Cork perspective, Jimmy Barry Murphy will be delighted with the improvement in his side from the National League final, but disappointed that they could have won the game.
Tipp manager, Declan Ryan has plenty to ponder before the Munster final, but he will be happy with the character shown by his side for the second time this summer.
After a big hurling weekend the pecking order remains unaltered, with Kilkenny firmly at the top and Tipperary in second spot.