Déise melt away under Rebel pressure
Munster SHC Round 3: Cork 2-30 Waterford 2-17
Cork's demolition of Waterford last Saturday night puts the Rebels in the box seat for a spot in the All Ireland series while raising further questions about the future of Déise hurling.
On a perfect night for hurling, Cork blew away the competitive cobwebs that mustered over a three-week interval and finished off in some style, bagging what has to be considered is a hugely significant tally of 2-30.
From the off, Cork looked good, with Patrick Horgan and Alan Cadogan looking like serious threats up front - add that scoring double act to a fired up Bill Cooper as well as half and full-back lines that seem to be getting better with time and Waterford ultimately had no answers.
Horgan was again massive in his contribution, both on and off the scoreboard, while Cadogan has brought back an excitement to the full forward line that was missing in his absence.
Seamus Harnedy, as one would expect, was all over the attacking third with Cooper and Darragh Fitzgibbon both making an impact on the scoreboard as well as on the Waterford psyche.
Right from the off the intent was there from Cork with Horgan and Cadogan striking fear in the Déise back lines.
An early point from Horgan was followed by a brilliant goal from the full-forward (set up by Cadogan) and Cork were off to the perfect start.
Scores flowed from both sides for the next 20 minutes or so as Waterford showed they came to play and for long periods in the opening half they stayed right on the heels of the Rebels, only to succumb to a real sucker punch on 31 minutes when Cadogan finally got the goal he had obviously craved in the opening period.
The visitors had their own moments to savour in the first half with some good scores from Stephen Bennett, but they still went in at the interval training by six, 2-11 to 0-11.
Cork looked to be well in the driving seat as the sides returned, but it was the boys in blue and white that shook the Leeside feel-good factor with a quick goal and a point to wake up those in the crowd that were expecting a shock free night.
Bennett got on the end of a long ball from Thomas Ryan and seemingly from nowhere Waterford were back to within touching distance.
If Cork are to go all the way this season they will need to show resilience and Saturday night we got to see just that as they responded to the Bennett goal with five points in five minutes to push Cork out to an eight-point advantage once more.
A brace from Waterford's front two again showed some heart and their second goal on 50 minutes again sent Cork supporter's hearts racing as the possibility of a comeback still lingered around the summer night sky, but Cork were not going to be denied and as the fresh legs came forth from the benches Cork's strength in depth (something they had been criticised for in the last few years) shone through.
Twelve of the next fourteen points went the way of the home side with second half sub Shane Kingston bagging a hugely impressive three of those.
Others to trouble the scorekeeper were Harnedy, Conor Lehane, Fitzgibbon and a late brace from Tim O'Mahony who came on late to score two exceptional points.
Cork were rampant at the finish and for the sake of all involved in the Waterford camp this one concluded on the dot of 73 minutes as anything more could have caused irreparable damage to this proud hurling county.
Cork won in a canter and can now look to the Clare game with some optimism however few in the Rebel camp will feel that next Sunday is anything close to a certainty.
CORK: A Nash; S O'Donoghue, E Cadogan, N O'Leary; R Downey, M Ellis (0-1), M Coleman (0-2); B Cooper (0-1), D Fitzgibbon (0-3); D Kearney (0-1), S Harnedy (0-3), L Meade (0-1); A Cadogan (1-2), P Horgan (1-10, 9f), A Walsh Subs: S Kingston (0-3) for Walsh (41), C Lehane (0-1) for Kearney (49), C Joyce for Downey (55), R O'Flynn for Meade (65), T O'Mahony (0-2) for Cooper (67)
WATERFORD: B Nolan; S McNulty, C Prunty, D Lyons; C Lyons (0-1), T de Búrca, C Gleeson; J Barron (0-1), M Kearney; Shane Bennett (1-2), B O'Halloran, J Prendergast (0-2); T Ryan, Stephen Bennett (1-8, 7f), P Hogan (0-2) Subs: S Roche for Kearney (half-time), A Gleeson (0-1sl) for Ryan (48), C Roche for O'Halloran (53), S Fives for Lyons (55), M Walsh for Prendergast (64)
Referee: J Keenan (Carlow)
The game in 60 seconds
Cork were always in control of this one and despite Waterford scoring two goals, Cork never really looked in trouble. Looking for a turning point in that scenario is difficult however what was noticeable was the way Cork went through the gears late on to totally blow away the opposition. Dominant last 10.
While it would be great to focus in on Cork the main talking point has to be the demise of a side that competed in the All Ireland Final just a couple of years ago. Waterford put it up to Cork for long periods without ever really looking like a side that would take the spoils, but when the going got tough the Waterford boys just vanished. Really poor campaign from a proud hurling county.
Man of the Match
Who am I to question the knowledgeable souls on Sky Sports who gave the nod to Patrick Horgan? Another masterful display from the man I believe is the best hurler in the country right now, and arguably one of the best of his generation. Horgan's stats again show a man on top of his game with brilliant accuracy from placed balls and a threat up front that is unrivalled. Bill Cooper also put in a great shift, as did Niall O'Leary at the back. All the candidates were from Cork.
The small matter of a trip to Cusack Park this weekend will be firmly on the mind about now. Cork have rallied exceptionally well since they lost out to Tipp on day one and now look to be in the box seat for a place in the All Ireland series and with a good win a place in the provincial showpiece game. Cork will need to go at it from the word go this Sunday, but few could argue that they are heading to the cauldron as underdogs.