Cork survive major scare as Waterford come agonisingly close to first championship win over Rebels since 1960
Cork 1-12 Waterford 1-11
Cork moved on to a Munster semi-final clash with Tipperary - but only after the were given an almighty scare by Tom McGlinchey’s battling Waterford side.
Waterford, who hadn’t won a game since they beat Wicklow in a division four clash back on February 11, lead with less than ten minutes to play. And at that stage it looked like they might record an historic first championship win over the Rebels since 1960.
However, Paul Kerrigan kicked a huge point to level and Donncha O’Connor, who was excellent on his introduction, edged the Rebels back in front. Sub Alan O’Connor was shown a straight red card on 66 minutes and the sides were still level in the fourth minute of injury time but Colm O’Neill kicked a short range free before Kerrigan landed a fine score.
A nail biting finish saw the excellent Donie Breathnach cut the gap to the minimum once more but there was no time for an equaliser as the Rebels fell over the line and avoided a huge upset.
Cork might have been much more comfortable but they missed two gilt edged goal chances in the second half with Colm O’Neill pulling a superb save from Stephen Enright when he should have goaded.
Shortly afterwards, Kerrigan pulled his shot wide when he was through one on one. Then at the other end, Cork shot themselves in the foot when goalkeeper Kevin O’Halloran dropped a high ball dropping and Gavin Crotty pounced to goal to bring the sides level.
That breathed new life into the Waterford challenge as they started to believe that their defensive system might help get them into a provincial semi-final and they led by two points as the clock approached the 50 minute mark.At that point those in Fraher Field might have started to believe they'd witness history. But Cork would do just enough.
There was only a goal between the sides at half-time as Waterford’s game plan, which often saw Ferghal O Cuirrin as the only Deise player in the Cork end of the field, worked for long periods of the opening half.
Cork didn’t seem to have the energy too punch through the massed Deise defence early on and the home side led (0-2 to 0-1) after ten minutes. Peadar Healy’s side suffered a blow when Aidan Walsh, who was making his first football championship start for the Rebels since 2014 was forced off, though the Rebels had an able replacement in O’Connor.
Waterford, who were playing with the aid of a breeze, still had their noses in front on 18 minutes before Paul Kerrigan struck for goal. Mark Collins found Colm O’Neill with a accurate kick pass and he powered across the end line. He hand passed across the goal to the onrushing Kerrigan and despite a number of recovering Deise defenders, the Nemo Rangers man got enough on the ball to force it over the line.
To their credit, Waterford didn’t collapse and midfielders Tommy Pendergast and Michael Curry combined well for a Curry point. John O’Rourke, comfortably Cork’s best player in the opening 35 minutes, would hit the next two scores to bring his first half tally to three points.
Waterford’s forays were rare and they amassed six wides in the opening 35 minutes with their forwards guilty of bad decision making. And as the half wore on, Healy’s side looked to be getting to grips with the challenge. They landed three of the last four points of the half to take a 1-4 to 0-4 lead in at the break.
Waterford would mount a brave challenge int he second half but they would fall short against a Cork side who have more questions to answer.
SCORERS - Cork: P Kerrigan 1-3, J O’Rourke, D O’Connor (1f) 0-3 each, J Loughrey, C O’Neill (1f), M Collins 0-1 each.
Waterford: D Breathnach 0-6 (5f), G Crotty 1-0, P Whyte 0-2, T Prendergast, M Curry 0-1 each, A Trihy 0-1.
Cork: K O’Halloran; K Crowley, M Shields, J O’Sullivan; T Clancy, J Loughrey, S Cronin; A Walsh, R Deane; K O’Driscoll, M Collins, J O’Rourke; C O’Neill, P Kelleher, P Kerrigan SUBS: A O’Connor for Walsh (11), D O’Connor for K O’Driscoll (46), I Maguire for Deane (49), S Powter for Cronin (53), G Murphy for Kelleher (63), B O’Driscoll for O’Rourke (67).
Waterford: S Enright; B Looby, R O Ceallaigh, T O’Gorman; J McGrath, S Prendergast, T O hUallachain; T Prendergast, M Curry; D Breathnach, J Veale, G Crotty; A Trihy, F O Cuirrin, P Whyte SUBS: C Murray for O Cuirrin (45), M O’Halloran for Veale (49), L O Corraoin for Looby (67, D Guiry for Trihy (70).
Referee: R Hickey (Clare)