Tipp to give Rebels real test of mettle
MARTIN BREHENY – PUBLISHED 27 MARCH 2014 02:30 AM
SINCE public curiosity remains one of the boosting agents for TV viewing figures, TG4 can expect a substantial surge for their live coverage of the Tipperary v Cork Allianz Hurling League quarter-final in Thurles on Sunday.
Much of the interest will focus on how the Rebels are shaping up after starting the season in the slower lane, from where they have emerged as No 1.
Tipperary operated under the harsh glare of local and national scrutiny for several weeks, while Cork have manoeuvred below the radar in the far less pressurised surrounds of Division 1B.
It was as if the hurling world waved them out of the limelight at the start of the league and waited for themselves and Limerick to sort out who would take the promotion slot.
It was always going to be one or the other, but with four quarter-finals on offer in Division 1B, there was a lot more to be played for too.
Quite how Division 1B compares with Division 1A in the four quarter-final games remains to be seen but, with the All-Ireland runners-up (Cork) and Munster champions (Limerick) leading the 1B charge, it’s quite possible the second tier could be two-handed in the semi-finals.
There will be plenty of interest in how Limerick fare against Galway, whether home advantage can inspire Wexford and Laois into defiant stands against Kilkenny and Clare respectively. But in terms of overall fascination, Tipperary v Cork leads the way.
Specifically, there’s the question of how Cork have wintered away from the spotlight that All-Ireland champions Clare faced every time they have played.
While Davy Fitzgerald found himself being quizzed by a large media posse, Jimmy Barry-Murphy encountered only modest interest in Cork’s progress through Division 1B.
While Clare were full-on right from the start, facing top-class opposition who were driven by a fierce desire to beat them, Cork carried out their functional duties in the lower group.
Having drawn with Limerick in the first round, it looked as if the promotion spot would ultimately be decided on scoring difference, a tie-breaker which would have gone against Cork.
But Offaly came to their rescue, snatching a precious point off Limerick which gave Cork the vital break.
They have achieved their first ambition for the year by winning promotion, but it’s a relatively small prize with comparison with what Cork expect for the season.