Glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel have emerged from time to time. I think back to 1955 when an excellent Tipperary minor football team had the better of the exchanges with Dublin in the All-Ireland final only to concede three goals through defensive lapses. The recent successes of the minor footballers, with the wonderful All-Ireland win in 2011 followed by a Munster final win the following year, gives ground for optimism.
At senior level, a game that stands out for me was the Munster semi-final of 1970, played in Clonmel when Tipperary were thwarted by three late points from a very strong Cork team. The outstanding memory from that game, for me, were the three great goals scored by Tipperary dual star, Michael "Babs" Keating. I remember, especially, the one he scored in the second half, when he drove the ball to the net through a crowded Cork goal line.
I reproduce here an account of that game written some years afterwards:
Cork and Tipperary drew an attendance of 8,000 to Clonmel Sportsfield on July 5th 1970 for their Munster Senior Football Semi-Final clash. The sideline was closed before the curtain-raiser had concluded and both teams paraded behind the Carrick-on-Suir Brass Band prior to the game. RTE cameras were on hand to record the highlights and there was great confidence behind the Premier County side which had been prepared by the late James P. McGowan, the former Mayo star.
The Tipperary supporters who flocked to see the home side in action were not to be disappointed as the Tipperary players carried the fight to hot favourites Cork from the beginning and two goals from Michael Keating got Tipp away to a dream start. Cork showed all their fighting qualities however to come back at the break with only two points separating the teams. Tipperary again gained the upper hand in the early stages of the second half and in the last quarter they went four points clear. Once again Cork called upon all their expertise and spirit, and the Tipp defence cracked under the pressure. Cork drew level three minutes from the end and a trio of points in the closing stages gained them a flattering three points win.
The final score read Cork 2-15 Tipperary 3-9 and once again Tipperary's football hopes were dealt a cruel blow. The scorers were: Cork: Denis Coughlan 1-10; T. Holland 1-0; Ned Kirby 0-3; Ray Cummins 0-2. Tipperary: M. Keating 3-1; Paudie Blighe 0-4; Sean Kearney 0-2; Paddy O'Connell, Patsy Dawson 0-1 each.
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