Waterford relegated as Cork rally to secure top-flight status
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.
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.
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.
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)