Saturday 25 November 2017

Prendergast salvages share of spoils in pulsating clash

In an edge-of-the-seat finish at a rain and windswept Fraher Field, Waterford came up with two late points from Brian O'Sullivan and Seamus Prendergast to make it honours even, and leave both sides quietly pleased.

Cork had fought back from eight points in arrears at the break to lead by two entering the dying embers of the contest. Selector Kieran Kingston said afterwards: "We would be happy with three points from two games. Coming down here we would have taken it, and at half-time we certainly would have taken a draw. But, at the same time, with a few minutes to go, we should have held on."

Waterford battled bravely to the finish and manager Michael Ryan praised their durability. "With three minutes to go, we were two points behind against a Cork team that were on the rise and we were playing against a strong wind. We put in a fantastic finish, scored two great points and fully deserved the draw."

Ryan also praised the players for coping manfully with the appalling surface. "Conditions were very poor. There was a lot of surface water. Maybe it shouldn't have gone ahead but, now that it's over and we both got a point, I think we are both happy with that."

The rain came pouring down from early morning to make conditions testing for both sides. There was also a howling wind blowing, which Waterford had the benefit of in the first half. The soggy conditions made the basics like striking and first touch more difficult than usual.

Ryan's side adjusted far quicker, however, and took control early on. A brace of neat points from Brian O'Halloran and one each courtesy of Seamus Prendergast and Pauric Mahony (free) gave them a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 10 minutes.

The Ballygunner free-taker and Patrick Horgan then traded placed balls, but the home side pushed on for the remainder of the half. Waterford's half-back line began to dictate and the home side widened the gap.

They struck five unanswered points without a reply from the visitors. Shane O'Sullivan, Brian O'Sullivan and Seamus Prendergast were on the mark from play as Mahony and goalkeeper Stephen O'Keeffe sent over placed balls.

After half-time, Cork summoned a response. On 41 minutes, corner-forward Stephen Moylan reacted quickest of all to whip the ball to the back of the net. They hit four swift points after that to cut the gap to two.

The introduction of Jamie Barron allowed Waterford to recover and he set up points for Mahony and Brian O'Sullivan as they held a 0-13 to 1-6 lead entering the closing quarter.

Cork's strength in depth became a telling factor, however, as the heavy pitch took its toll. Substitute Conor Lehane made an immediate impact up front and he sent over a score in between a pair of Horgan frees to leave a point separating the sides.

With five minutes to go, Horgan converted a '65' to make it all square and Cork surged for the line. Lehane and Peter O'Brien added further points to put them in the driving seat for the first time, but they couldn't close it out.

Waterford showed grit and determination to set up a frantic finish. Brian O'Sullivan pulled one point back and then Anthony Nash pulled off a double save to deny both Seamus Prendergast and Maurice Shanahan.

Eventually, the sliotar found its way back to Prendergast and he made no mistake.

Man of the match: S Prendergast (Waterford)

Scorers – Waterford: P Mahony 0-5 (5f), S Prendergast, B O'Sullivan 0-3 each, B O'Halloran 0-2, S O'Sullivan, S O'Keeffe (f) 0-1 each. Cork: P Horgan 0-7 (5f, 1 '65'), S Moylan 1-1, C Lehane 0-2, C McCarthy, P O'Brien 0-1 each.

Waterford – S O'Keeffe 6; S Daniels 6, L Lawlor 6, S Fives 7; J Nagle 7, M Walsh 8, K Moran 8; S O'Sullivan 7, D Fives 6; B O'Halloran 7, P Mahony 6, S Prendergast 9; J Dillon 7, B O'Sullivan 7, S Walsh 6. Subs: P Prendergast 6 for D Fives (26), J Barron 7 for S Walsh (44), M Shanahan for O'Halloran (62), R Barry for B O'Sullivan (68).

Cork – A Nash 8; S O'Neill 7, S McDonnell 6, C O'Sullivan 6; C Joyce 6, P Cronin 6, S White 6; L McLoughlin 6, D Kearney 6; C McCarthy 7, P O'Sullivan 6, S Harnedy 5; S Moylan 7, P O'Brien 6, P Horgan 8. Subs: C Lehane 7 for Harnedy (48), W Egan 6 for McDonnell (54), T Kenny for McLoughlin (62), M Walsh for Kearney (65), L O'Farrell for P O'Sullivan (66).

Ref – A Kelly (Galway)

Irish Independent

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