Meade shines as Rebels rise again
National Hurling League Division 1A
There was a lot to admire about Cork's performance last Sunday in Walsh Park, not least being the sheer intensity of their play over the 70 minutes.
Cork 1-21 Waterford 1-13
On a bumpy pitch which left little room for frills, it was a key factor in their unflattering and unexpected triumph over a Waterford side that simply had no answer to the industry and resolve which the new-look Rebels brought to the table on the day.
Cork played the better hurling as well of course, and the extent of their superiority can be gauged from the fact that practically every member of the starting fifteen made a telling contribution, whereas the number of Waterford players who performed up to scratch could easily be counted on one hand.
It's a measure of Waterford's limitations in attack that they relied largely on Pauric Mahony's accuracy from frees for penetration, but they also had major problems in other sectors.
Cork's pairing of Dean Brosnan and the recalled Lorcan McLoughlin, a late replacement for the injured Daniel Kearney, generally held the whip-hand at midfield, while the forwards always moved menacingly as a unit, with Luke Meade, Conor Lehane, Bill Cooper and Shane Kingston most effective up front overall.
Seamus Harnedy had his moments too at full forward, although he was well-contained by Waterford's Barry Coughlan for the most part.
Corner-back Noel Connors also did well on Alan Cadogan in the first half, but he found the going much tougher against Michael Cahalane, whose input following his introduction shortly before the interval served to compound the difficulties of a Waterford rearguard that seldom inspired confidence.
By contrast, Cork hadn't a weak link in defence, with Damien Cahalane, ably supported by his flankers Stephen McDonnell and Colm Spillane, ruling with a firm hand at the edge of the square against Stephen Bennett.
Chris Joyce and Mark Ellis were both very assertive in the half-back line where rookie Mark Coleman provided further evidence of his potential with another polished display at wing back.
Playing into a strong wind, Waterford received an early boost when midfielder Shane Bennett goaled to push them 1-1 to 0-1 ahead inside five minutes.
Making light of that set-back, Cork quickly snatched the initiative, hitting the front for the first time after 'keeper Anthony Nash converted a long-range free to make it 0-6 to 1-2 thirteen minutes later.
They weren't to fall behind for the rest of the match, although they were just two points to the good after Austin Gleeson was on target for Waterford with about ten minutes to the interval.
In view of the strength of the wind, it seemed a tenuous advantage, but Cork finished the first half with a flourish, reeling of five unanswered points, including three fine efforts by Mark Coleman, Bill Cooper, his third of the match, and Shane Kingston from play.
Full value for an 0-14 to 1-4 lead at the break, Cork drew first blood on the resumption, courtesy of Michael Cahalane, before their character was put to the test when Waterford bagged the next four points.
In the 55th minute, however, Dean Brosnan, fed by highly influential wing forward Luke Meade, replied for Cork, and Meade, placed by Michael Cahalane, quickly tacked on another point, which did much to steady the ship
Cork never really looked back after that, and they were clearly in the driving seat, leading by 1-17 to 1-9, after Cahalane, in contesting a probing delivery from Shane Kingston, helped to create an opening for Meade, who raced through to goal with aplomb in the 49th minute.
Waterford were still eight points adrift when Maurice Shanahan - their only forward to make any sort of an impact - was red-carded approaching the last ten minutes, ruling out any remote chance of a comeback by the home side.
Aided by well-taken points from Chris Joyce, Conor Lehane and substitute Patrick Horgan, Cork had moved ten ahead before Anthony Nash saved well from substitute Tommy Ryan to deny Waterford a consolation goal in the dying minutes.
Cork: C Lehane 0-8 (6f), L Meade 1-1, B Cooper 0-3, L McLoughlin, A Nash (f), S Harnedy, M Coleman, S Kingston, M Cahalane, D Brosnan, C Joyce and P Horgan 0-1 each
Waterford: P O'Mahony 0-8 (f), Shane Bennett 1-0, P Curran 0-2, Stephen Bennett, A Gleeson and M Shanahan 0-1 each
Cork: A Nash (Kanturk); S McDonnell (Glen Rovers), D Cahalane (St Finbarr's), C Spillane (Castlelyons); C Joyce (Na Piarsaigh), M Ellis (Millstreet), M Coleman (Blarney); D Brosnan (Glen Rovers), L McLoughlin (Kanturk); B Cooper (Youghal) C Lehane (Midleton), L Meade (Newcestown); A Cadogan (Douglas), S Harnedy (St Ita's), S Kingston (Douglas) Subs: M Cahalane (Bandon) for Cadogan, 32, P Horgan (Glen Rovers) for Kingston, (injured) 64, K Burke (Midleton) for McDonnell (injured), 66, C O'Leary (Valley Rovers) for McLoughlin, 69
Waterford: S O'Keeffe; N Connors, B Coughlan, S Fives; D Lyons, T De Burca, K Moran; J Barron, Shane Bennett; C Dunford, A Gleeson, P Mahony; M Walsh, Stephen Bennett, M Shanahan Subs: C Gleeson for Barron, 15, T Devine for Dunford, 47, P Curran for Shane Bennett, 48, B O'Halloran for Gleeson, 64, T Ryan for Walsh, 64.
Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath).
The game in 60 seconds
Newcomer Luke Meade added to his growing reputation with another hugely industrious performance in attack. Involved in the lead-up to several scores, he was instrumental in getting Cork back on track after Waterford enjoyed a brief spell of supremacy early in the second half.
With Waterford struggling to get a foothold on the game, Luke Meade's goal in the 49th minute propelled Cork into an eight-point lead and effectively removed any lingering doubts about the outcome.
Just as much as how well Cork performed, Waterford's feeble display raised quite a few eye-brows, with the failure of Austin Gleeson to get into the game in the half-forward line an obvious blow to their prospects, underlining perhaps their reliance on the 2016 hurler-of-the-year to inspire the team.
Experienced Westmeath whistle-blower Barry Kelly didn't have one of his better days, awarding a lot of soft frees to both sides, which meant the game suffered in terms of continuity.