Rebels condemn Déise with late surge
Cork 0-21 Waterford 1-13
Cork hurling coach John Meyler praised his midfield pairing of Bill Cooper and Darragh Fitzgibbon as the Rebels preserved their Division 1A status by seeing off Waterford at Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday.
The home side never trailed as they overturned a three-point defeat against the same opposition in Páirc Uí Chaoimh three weeks ago.
Having been 0-10 to 1-4 in front at half-time, they twice led by five points in the second half and though Waterford came back strongly despite having had sub Maurice Shanahan sent off, Cork saw the game out with late scores from Patrick Horgan, Daniel Kearney (two) and Colm Spillane.
Man of the match Cooper finished with four points while Fitzgibbon had three and Meyler pinpointed their influence.
"That was the launchpad," he said. "Bill and Fitzy in midfield gave us that drive going forward, that was critical. Bill put in a man-of-the-match performance today and Fitzy played his best game. The younger fellas, Tim (O'Mahony) did really well at centre-back and Cads (Eoin Cadogan) did well at full-back.
"It's promising, we've built up a good squad over the six games and that was the important thing."
The win means Cork avoided the spectre of going into the championship on the back of five straight defeats.
"It's vital that we maintained our status in Division 1A for 2019, that's the most important thing here today," Meyler said.
"It gives us impetus going into the Munster Championship in May for the first game against Clare. We upped our consistency today and we improved on the spread of scorers in the forwards, so it's a good overall performance to finish the league."
Cork had the game's first five points, through Fitzgibbon, Mike Cahalane, Dean Brosnan, Cooper and Alan Cadogan, though Waterford had been denied an early Patrick Curran goal due to a square ball.
When the visitors - without the injured Austin Gleeson and ill Kevin Moran, while Conor Gleeson arrived late after being snowed in - did get off the mark in the 20th minute, it was through a green flag. Under a good delivery from Stephen Bennett, Spillane grappled with Curran and referee John Keenan awarded a penalty, which Curran drilled beyond the dive of Anthony Nash to reduce the gap to two points.
Though Pauric Mahony had a couple of frees, they couldn't come any closer in the first half, though they did have a couple of other goal chances, with Spillane doing well to deny Tom Devine while Nash easily saved from Colin Dunford.
The points continued to come for Cork, Patrick Horgan's injury-time free - their first from a dead ball - making it 0-10 to 1-2, but Waterford came back to within a goal by half-time thanks to points from Jamie Barron and Mikey Kearney.
The third quarter saw the sides trade scores before Cork looked to have made a decisive move as Fitzgibbon's third was followed by two more from Horgan as they established a 0-16 to 1-8 lead by the 55th minute.
Waterford brought on Maurice Shanahan in a bid to turn the game but he was sent off within a minute after clashing with Tim O'Mahony and though Tommy Ryan had his second point to bring them to within four, Cooper had his fourth to put Cork five ahead again.
However, despite the disparity in manpower, Waterford found something and two Stephen Bennett points sandwiched one by sub Jake Dillon to leave two in it with just four minutes left.
Cork could have wilted but they didn't, Horgan getting his fifth before sub Daniel Kearney marked his introduction by scoring straight away. Spillane landed a huge effort and Kearney got another to ensure the win.
Despite the loss and the relegation, Waterford manager Derek McGrath found a lot of positives to take away.
"We came to try to build on the performances against Cork and Clare and I think we actually did that without getting a good result," he said.
"We're very happy with lots of our play; to be relegated isn't nice so we're disappointed over that, but we weren't even approaching it in a manner where we mentioned relegation or even staying up. We were just trying to build towards a good performance and I think we got that."
And, while it may not be ideal, Division 1B may prove to be a useful testing ground. "It won't be for me," he laughed, "but I think there is a sense of flux around the team and what's needed in the next cycle.
"I think there'll be a few step away and in terms of the integration into the panel of DJ Foran, Patrick and those guys that were centre-stage today and prolonged starting berths in the team, 1B is probably more applicable.
"That's not to say we're happy to be going down there, you have to acknowledge the county board, for the bigger games the gates are good, so it's a fine balance."
Scorers - Cork: P Horgan 0-5 (3f), B Cooper 0-4, D Fitzgibbon, D Brosnan 0-3 each; D Kearney 0-2; C Lehane, M Cahalane, C Spillane, A Cadogan 0-1 each. Waterford: Pauric Mahony 0-4 (2f); S Bennett 0-3; P Curran 1-0 (pen); T Ryan 0-2; T de Búrca, J Barron, J Dillon, M Kearney 0-1 each.
Cork - A Nash 7; S O'Donoghue 6, E Cadogan 6, C Spillane 7; C Joyce 6, T O'Mahony 7, M Coleman 7; D Fitzgibbon 8, B Cooper 9; S Harnedy 6, D Brosnan 8, C Lehane 7; A Cadogan 6, P Horgan 8, M Cahalane 7. Subs: L Meade 7 for Cahalane (46), D Browne for O'Mahony (57-58, blood), D Kearney 7 for Brosnan (63), R O'Flynn for Alan Cadogan (70).
Waterford - S O'Keeffe 7; S Fives 6, B Coughlan 6, N Connors 7; K Bennett 6, T de Búrca 7, Philip Mahony; 7 J Barron 7, C Dunford 6; Pauric Mahony 7, S Bennett 8, M Kearney 7; T Devine 6, P Curran 7, T Ryan 7. Subs: C Gleeson 6 for K Bennett (53), M Shanahan for Kearney (55), B O'Halloran 6 for Dunford (61), J Dillon 7 for Curran (61), M Walsh for Ryan (66).
Ref - J Keenan (Wicklow)