Ben O’Connor’s Cork Under 20 hurlers hit the ground running with four-point win over Waterford
Kanturk’s Colin Walsh hits 1-3 as the young Rebels recover from a slow start against the Déise
MUNSTER U20 HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 2
Cork’s Under 20s rounded off what has been a good midweek for the county’s hurlers, with a win over Waterford in Round 2 of the Munster Championship.
In less than ideal conditions, the home side followed their minor cousins from Tuesday night in seeing off competition from Waterford in their opening round of provincial action.
Cork had to fight back from a slow start to trail byjust one at the break, before going on to lead for most of the second period, ultimately taking the spoils against a very disappointed Waterford camp.
Ben Cunningham, Adam O’Sullivan and Colin Walsh all impressed for the winners as Waterford’s back six struggled to keep a handle on a serious attacking outfit.
For the visitors, Patrick Fitzgerald was hugely impressive on the night with Josh Fitzgerald also making a name for himself under lights on the Southside of the river.
Waterford were first on the scoreboard in the early exchanges, but Cunningham had the sides level before the clock hit three minutes.
A free from Patrick Fitzgerald put the visitors back in front soon after with the same player adding to his personal tally minutes later as Cork struggled to get to the pace of the game – Cunningham on target soon after to keep the away side honest.
Josh Fitzgerald from Clashmore / Kinsalebeg produced a tasty score from the middle of the pitch with another point following hot on its heels as Waterford looked to heap pressure on the home side in what were less than ideal conditions for expansive hurling.
The sides traded points past the 10th minute with Cunningham adding another to keep Ben O’Connor’s charges in touch however before the 20th minute Waterford landed the first major blow of the game – a brilliant finish from Josh Fitzgerald gave Cork keeper Brion Saunderson no chance.
Waterford looked like they were going to take a five-point lead into the break, but credit to Cork they managed to hit back thanks to a wonderful individual goal from Kanturk’s Colin Walsh. The Rebels were back to within one when Cunningham landed a hefty ‘65 to keep Cork well in the hunt for the second half. (1-9 to 1-10 at the interval).
Cork were able to call upon Eoin Downey, Cunningham and Walsh from the senior ranks which meant that they always had plenty firepower and experience on the field – experience that would come in very handy as this one headed to the latter stages – Downey in particular would be looking to impress after his red card against Kilkenny the previous Sunday.
Adam O’Sullivan levelled the game up with less than 60 seconds on the clock before midfielder Mickey Finn put Cork in front for the first time with a delightful point from the centre-forward spot.
Waterford did manage to bag the next point to leave things at parity with 20 minutes remaining in this one. Walsh was again on target to ease Cork back in front but both sides, particularly Waterford, went through a patch where the target became elusive.
Pat Fitzgerald brought the game back to a single point once more, but Cunningham was again on target to keep Cork two up with Waterford adding a trio of wides to add to their frustrations on the night.
The Déise did have a great chance to level up the tie on 54 minutes, but none of the three attackers hunting the ball outside the Cork box were able to get it under control and Cork managed to clear.
Cork’s defensive pack did well as they hunted and hassled every threat in white, but Pat Fitzgerald still managed to cut the gap to two as this one entered the final few minutes.
Tensions were eased for the Leesiders on the stroke of full time when Eoin O’Leary landed a solid point from the left line to push the gap to three, but Waterford had another late chance to equalise.
After working their way into the danger zone a goal looked on, but the final pass just didn’t go to hand and the chance was gone. Cunningham rounded off the win with a free from in front of the posts to seal what was a very good night for the young Cork stars.
Waterford will now take on Clare in Round 3 desperate to record a win after losing their opening two fixtures, while for Cork, the small matter of a clash with Tipp awaits in Páirc Uí Chaoimh next week.
CORK: B Saunderson (Midleton); S Daly (Randal Óg), E Downey (Glen Rovers), D O’Sullivan (Ballinhassig); J Dwyer (Ballincollig), S Kingston (Ballinora), M Mullins (Whitechurch); T O’Connell (Ballincollig), M Finn (Midleton) 0-1; A O’Sullivan (Ballinhassig) 0-3, B Cunningham (0-7 (4f, 1.65), D Healy (Lisgoold); J Leahy (Dungourney), R O’Sullivan (Na Piarsaigh) 0-1, C Walsh (Kanturk) 1-3 Subs: B Keating (Ballincollig) 0-1 for Finn (38), W Buckley (St Finbarr’s) for Healy (41), T Wilk (Cobh) for O’Connell (46), D Cremin (Midleton) for A O’Sullivan (54), E O’Leary (Glen Rovers) 0-1 for Leahy (59)
WATERFORD: C Troy; A O’Neill, C Cantwell, J Power; O Walsh, M Fitzgerald, M Mullaney 0-1; J Fitzgerald 1-1, W Beresford; J Booth, C Treen 0-2, C Keane; T O’Connell, P Fitzgerald 0-8 (4f), J Twomey Subs: F Roche 0-1 for Twomey (half-time), K Cullinane for Beresford (41), R Walsh for Keane (47), E Foley for O’Connell (56), R Dobbyn for Mullaney (59)
REFEREE: M Kennedy (Tipperary)