Deise bury Cork in a goal rush

Waterford 4-19 Cork 0-20

Waterford’s Austin Gleeson celebrates scoring his superb 60th minute goal.

Frank Roche

It finished in a whirlwind of Waterford scores, a glut of green flags tinged by a flash of red mist.

And so the Déise - this compelling blend of defensive suffocation, endless midfield energy and bravura counter-attacking ebullience - are through to the All-Ireland senior hurling final on September 3.

An occasion to leave the romantics in a swoon and, whatever transpires barring a late September sequel, an outcome to signal the end of a famine.

But which one? Galway have been waiting 29 years to get their hands back on Liam MacCarthy.

Waterford have been waiting twice as long - 58 years - and at a couple of key junctures in a pulsating second half, it looked as if their recent semi-final purgatory was about to continue.

And yet they were positively rampant at the finish, 11 points clear of a reeling Cork. Go figure.


If you're looking for watershed moments, the first place to start is the 51st minute when Damien Cahalane - already on yellow for a heedless first half foul - caught Conor Gleeson with a high arm (and hurl) around the neck.

Referee James Owens had no choice; it was a stonewall second yellow (at least). Cork led by one at the time but Pauric Mahony's resultant free restored parity.

Far more costly, though was the body count. Suddenly, there were prairies of space in the Cork half of the field ... and how Waterford plundered, outscoring the Munster champions by 3-8 to 0-5 in the last 23 minutes (injury-time included).

And yet it took several more minutes, and one fleeting Cork purple patch, before the red dam burst.

Austin Gleeson had endured a frustrating, error-ridden opening three-quarters but what followed bordered on Canning-esque: his opening point on 53 minutes ignited the shoot-on-sight Waterford talisman.

But not before 14 Rebels had retorted with a hat-trick of points - from Alan Cadogan and a brace from the peerless Patrick Horgan.

They now led by two; the momentum in this oscillating contest seemed to have swung back in their favour ... but barely two minutes later, they trailed by five.

Again, go figure.


Which brings us around to yesterday's second decisive event, when Christopher Joyce had possession near the Cusack touchline only to have his pocket picked by Gleeson.

In an instant, the Waterford No 6 had arrowed a pinpoint crossfield pass to Jamie Barron, ghosting in beyond the far post.

His nerveless finish beat Anthony Nash, and suddenly a team damned with faint praise for the frugality of its defensive system was running amok in attack: they outscored Cork 3-6 to 0-2 from the 58th minute.

Barron's game-breaking goal was followed, in little over a minute, by a Conor Gleeson point and an outrageous solo run goal by his namesake Austin. The latter feigned an offload to the better-placed Michael Walsh, and crowned his dummy-handpass with a scooped finish off his hurl.

That 2-1 shell-burst effectively buried Cork; Barron's second goal in the 72nd minute iced the Deise cake and crowned a superlative perpetual-motion second half from our 'Man of the Match'.

In fairness, Horgan ran him close with a magnificent 0-12, including five from play.

Yet Cork's No 14 received only sporadic support from his fellow forwards who struggled to win enough primary ball on a day when Waterford's semi-final experience, their physical conditioning and impregnable defensive structure ultimately ruled.

A measure of the latter is the fact that you'd barely have noticed the suspended Tadhg de Búrca's absence, such was Darragh Fives' success in the role, crowned by two late soaring catches.

Waterford were helped, of course, by the fourth minute tonic of 'Brick' Walsh's opening goal, providing them with an interval lead of 1-7 to 0-9.

Yet, looking ahead to the final, another first half incident involving Austin Gleeson could yet prove calamitous. TV replays show him pulling the head-gear of a prone Luke Meade - a far more blatant breach of the rule than de Búrca's, prompting the likelihood of some retrospective CCCC action.


To compound matters, barring a successful appeal, Conor Gleeson will already miss the final after his 68th minute swipe across Horgan's leg prompted a straight red for both players (even though Shane Kingston's retaliation seemed a more obvious Cork infraction than Horgan's).

So then, whatever about looming Déise history, first there's the minor detail of burning the midnight oil in some Croke Park committee room. The fun and games have only started.