Cork 2-30 Waterford 2-17
Cork coasted to their second win in the Munster Championship at Pairc Ui Chaoimh, leaving Waterford empty-handed after four rounds and reflecting on another miserable summer.
Since they defeated Cork in the 2017 All-Ireland semi final in a thrilling finish, the county has failed to win a championship match and been beaten in every one they’ve played with the exception of a draw against Tipperary in last year’s Munster round robin.
Though mathematically still in the championship entering the match, realistically Waterford had nothing but pride to play for after suffering defeats to Clare in the opening round and hefty losses in Semple Stadium to Tipperary and at home to Limerick last Sunday. After two early summer eliminations, the county is at a crossroads and will spend much time poring over the wreckage, with some retirements likely among the more experienced players.
After much speculation about the approach Waterford would take to what was virtually a dead rubber, manager Paraic Fanning went for a much changed side. He placed his faith in a number of newcomers, leaving off Austin Gleeson, Noel Connors and goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe in a total of seven changes from the previous weekend.
Others to suffer the chop included Kevin Moran and Maurice Shanahan, while Pauric Mahony was serving a suspension. But the changes, including debutants in goalkeeper Billy Nolan and corner back Darragh Lyons, looked destined to be to Cork’s advantage as they chased a vital win and set out to bump up their scoring advantage ahead of a final round trip to Ennis next week.
They filled their boots when pulling well clear in the second half. The result also places added pressure on Limerick, who will exit the championship if they lose to Clare in the Gaelic Grounds tomorrow.
Cork got the perfect start with Pat Horgan goaling in the sixth minute after Waterford were denied what should have been a free to Shane Bennett moments before. Horgan tapped the ball down, ahead of Conor Prunty, and then lashed the ball past Nolan on the turn.
But Waterford settled and four frees from Stephen Bennett and a brilliant score from near the sideline 75m out by Jamie Barron left them trailing by just a point with a quarter of the match played. Bennett scored six points from frees in the first half playing with the wind and his brother Shane hit a superb score after being set up by Mike Kearney, which kept them in touch.
Tadhg de Burca played as a sweeper but Horgan was troubling Prunty and Alan Cadogan also caused Waterford problems. Cadogan was making his first start since the 2017 All-Ireland semi final defeat by Waterford.
Four minutes before half time, Cadogan scored Cork’s second goal, rifling the ball to the net after Nolan had made a good stop to deny Bill Cooper a goal. Cooper used the rebound smartly in picking out Cadogan free 20m from the goal and he finished powerfully. Nolan also had to come quickly from his goal to deny Seamus Harnedy earlier in the half and at the interval those two goals were the difference, Cork leading 2-11 to 0-11.
With the wind to come, Cork looked capable of stretching even further clear and move a step closer to reaching another Munster final, with a third successive provincial title still within their range.
Waterford made it competitive for most of the first half here with hardly any support having made the journey from Waterford. But there was a feeling by the mid-point that Cork would grow stronger and that they were capable of scoring more goals. Waterford did create one first half goal chance when Shane Bennett snatched at a ball on the ground with his boot and it flew wide of the post.
Waterford received a boost early in the second half when Stephen Bennett finished a Thomas Ryan cross to the net, reducing the deficit to three points, but that led to an instant response from Cork who hit the next five points, three of them Horgan frees, without reply.
Waterford brought on Austin Gleeson in the 49th minute when trailing by nine points and a minute later they were given brief and renewed hope when Shane Bennett scored their second goal to reduce the deficit to four points, tunnelling his way through and finishing from close range.
It made no difference. Cork kept scoring and were able to bring Conor Lehane and Shane Kingston off the bench eager to make their own statements and claims for starting places the next day.
Scorers: Cork - P Horgan 1-10 (0-9 fs); A Cadogan 1-2; S Harnedy, D Fitzgibbon, S Kingston 0-3, M Coleman, T O’Mahony 0-2, D Kearney, L Meade, B Cooper, M Ellis, C Lehane 0-1. Waterford - Stephen Bennett 1-8 (0-7 fs); Shane Bennett 1-2, J Prendergast, P Hogan 0-2, J Barron, C Lyons, A Gleeson (s/l) 0-1.
Cork: A Nash; S O’Donoghue, E Cadogan, N O’Leary; R Downey, M Ellis, M Coleman; B Cooper, D Fitzgibbon; D Kearney, S Harnedy, L Meade; A Cadogan, P Horgan, A Walsh.
Subs: S Kingston for Walsh (41 mins); C Lehane for Kearney (48); C Joyce for Downey (56); R O’Flynn for Meade (64); T O’Mahony for Cooper (66);
Waterford: B Nolan; S McNulty, C Prunty, D Lyons; C Lyons, T de Burca, C Gleeson; J Barron, M Kearney; Shane Bennett, B O’Halloran, J Prendergast; T Ryan, Stephen Bennett, P Hogan.
Subs: S Roche for Kearney (half time); A Gleeson for Ryan (49); C Roche for O’Halloran (53); S Five for D Lyons (55); M Walsh for Prendergast (64).
Patrick Collins, Conor O'Sullivan, Damien Cahalane, Stephen McDonnell, Tim O'Mahony, Christopher Joyce, Robbie O'Flynn, Shane Kingston, Conor Lehane, Declan Dalton, Jamie Coughlan.
Referee: J Keenan (Wicklow).
The Eddie Brennan-managed Laois are through to the final of the Joe McDonagh Cup after getting the better of a Kerry side who conceded goals at crucial stages in this entertaining clash at Austin Stack Park.