Sport Hurling

Thursday 8 December 2016

BIG GAME PREVIEW

Published 03/05/2015 | 02:30

CORK v WATERFORD

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Croke Park, 2.0

It's 2007 since Waterford last won the league title. They have tacked on two Munster titles and an All-Ireland minor since then. Much is expected of their under 21 side, and today their supporters can be optimistic about what lies ahead.

Cork are into their fourth year under Jimmy Barry Murphy, and it's a decade since they won the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Last year, they came unstuck against Tipperary after sealing a provincial title. A National League crown today would fuel their tank to go all the way and peak in September.

They were under pressure against Dublin last time when they were 12 points down, but they showed heart to bounce back and reach today's final. Having done it the hard way, there is hardly any chance they won't go full pelt this afternoon, but Cork will come up against a resolute, organised defence.

Their midfielders and half-forwards won't have much room to spray the ball around because the midfield and both half-back lines will be clogged up. If they can get Patrick Horgan on the ball enough, they will win.

Waterford will have to be mindful that Cork are content to take points on the run, from distance. They don't always go hunting for goals. Until now, the Deise defence has been excellent, but today is a big challenge.

Both teams will want to win a national title, and there will be two young sides going at it hell for leather. We have a feeling the game could be way more open than expected, and in the likes of Colin Dunford, Pauric Mahony and Maurice Shanahan, Waterford can cut loose too.

Still, we feel Cork are a little further down the road in terms of development.

Cork: A Nash; S O'Neill, A Ryan, S McDonnell; L McLoughlin, M Ellis, C Murphy; D Kearney, A Walsh; B Cooper, S Harnedy, R O'Shea; A Cadogan, C Lehane, P Horgan.

Waterford: Not available

Verdict: Cork

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