Sunday 17 December 2017

Rebels survive almighty scare against well-drilled Déise

Cork 1-12 Waterford 1-11

Ray O’Ceallaigh is tackled by Cork’s Peter Kelleher during last night’s Munster SFC clash in Dungarvan. Photo: Sportsfile
Ray O’Ceallaigh is tackled by Cork’s Peter Kelleher during last night’s Munster SFC clash in Dungarvan. Photo: Sportsfile

Donnchadh Boyle at Fraher Field, Dungarvan

Cork moved on to a Munster semi-final clash with Tipperary - but only after they 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 4 clash on February 11, led with less than 10 minutes to play. And at that stage it looked like they might record an historic first championship win over the Rebels since 1960.

James McGrath against John O'Rourke and Michael Shields of Cork. Photo: Sportsfile
James McGrath against John O'Rourke and Michael Shields of Cork. Photo: Sportsfile

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 another 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 O'Neill pulling off a superb save from Stephen Enright when he should have hit the net.

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 and Gavin Crotty pounced to goal and bring the sides level.

James McGrath of Waterford in action against Peter Kelleher of Cork during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match in Dungarvan, Co Waterford. Photo: Sportsfile
James McGrath of Waterford in action against Peter Kelleher of Cork during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match in Dungarvan, Co Waterford. Photo: Sportsfile

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. They led by two points as the clock approached the 50-minute mark and at that point those in Fraher Field might have started to believe history was on the cards. 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 Déise player in the Cork end of the field, worked for long periods of the opening half.

Cork didn't seem to have the energy to punch through the massed Déise defence early on and the home side led (0-2 to 0-1) after 10 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 Alan O'Connor.

Waterford, who were playing with the aid of a breeze, still had their noses in front on 18 minutes before Kerrigan struck for goal. Mark Collins found O'Neill with an 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 Déise 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 Prendergast 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. And as the half wore on, Healy's side looked to be getting to grips with the challenge, landing 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 in the second half but they would fall agonisingly 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 (f), M Collins 0-1 each; Waterford: D Breathnach 0-6 (5f), G Crotty 1-0, P Whyte 0-2, T Prendergast, M Curry, A Trihy 0-1 each.

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)

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