Cork’s class shines through in rain-hit final

Cork 2-12 Waterford0-11
By Brendan Larkin
CORK regained their Munster intermediate hurling title after a two-year gap with a comfortable victory over Waterford at rain-lashed Cashel last night.

In conditions totally unsuitable for hurling, Cork were the clear masters but one will never know how this game would have panned out, had Waterford not been forced to play for 53 minutes with 14 men.

In the circumstances, they did extremely well against a highly-rated Cork side but they never threatened to score a goal until the last minute when keeper Martin Coleman denied Conan Watt at the butt of his upright.

The new champions had a number of outstanding performers, particularly in defence where Brian Murphy, Michael Prout, Jerry O’Brien and Brendan Lombard were very solid.

Alan O’Connor was a tower of strength at midfield, while up-front, Brendan Coleman, Diarmuid O’Riordan and Jonathan O’Callaghan kept the Waterford defence fully occupied over the hour.

Waterford fielded a very experienced side and went into the game with high hopes of winning their first title at this level. But after losing a man so early, they were always behind.

Seán Cullinane, James O’Connor, Andrew Kirwan and Seán Daly played their hearts out for the Decies men but they never fully recovered from the sending-off.

The persistent rain which fell throughout, made it extremely difficult for both teams who nevertheless, served up a tough encounter.

Cork got off to a dream start and playing first-time hurling in the prevailing conditions, struck three points without reply in the opening minutes.

Cork’s early dominance was exemplified by Brendan Lombard at centre-back and Alan O’Connor at midfield. Waterford struggled in most areas and their cause was further compounded when corner-back Shane Kearney got a red card for a reckless pull in the eighth minute.

For all their dominance and numerical advantage, Cork could only manage a 0-4 to 0-0 lead after 20 minutes but hit six wides in the same period.

Fortunately for Waterford, the loss of Kearney only served to galvanise them and after Seán Daly finally opened their account with a point in the 21st minute, they were only one in arrears after Daly added two more from frees in quick succession.

After their impressive start, the Cork attack struggled as the Waterford defence and in particular, Seán Cullinane and James O’Connor, took a grip. But with only two players operating in their full-forward line, all their good outfield work went for nought as the Leesiders used Michael Prout very effectively as the extra man.

Cork’s numerical advantage was clearly evident and the incessant pressure on the Waterford defence began to tell and rifling over three points without reply, the Leesiders went in leading 0-7 to 0-3 at half-time.

Cork upped the ante on the changeover. Adapting well to the difficult conditions, they forged further ahead with three points, the best of them from Brendan Coleman who was having a fine match as leader of their attack.

In contrast, Waterford struggled for scores against a seven-man Cork

defence. At the other end, the Cork attack struggled to turn possession into scores and at the end of the third quarter, Waterford had managed to reduce the deficit to three points, principally because of Seán Daly’s excellent freetaking.

However, the game turned Cork’s way in the 52nd minute when substitute Dave Moore parted to the in-rushing Diarmuid O’Riordan and the Inniscarra man blasted to the net to put Cork 1-11 to 0-8 in front and there was no way back for 14-man Waterford who battled on bravely.

Cork’s superiority earned them a second goal in injury time and it was fitting that the chance fell to Brendan Coleman when he brushed his way past a couple of defenders before scoring to put the icing on an accomplished display by Cork.

Scorers for Cork: J. O’Callaghan 0-7 (0-4 frees, 0-2 65s), B. Coleman 1-2, D. O’Riordan 1-1, J. Quinlan, S. Hayes 0-1 each.

Waterford: S. Daly 0-5 (frees), B. Phelan 0-2 (65s), A. Kirwan, D. Howard, J. O’Connor, E. Bennett 0-1 each.

CORK: M. Coleman; M. Prout, J. O’Brien, B. Murphy; J. Hughes, B. Lombard, K. Hartnett; A. O’Connor, J. Barrett; J. O’Callaghan, B. Coleman, S. Hayes; V. Morrissey, D. O’Riordan, J. Quinlan. Subs: D. Moher for Morrissey, D. Fitzgerald for Barrett.

WATERFORD: B. Landers; N. O’Donnell, S. Cullinane, S. Kearney; K. Stafford, J. O’Connor, C. Kehoe; R. McGrath, A. Kirwan; N. Power, D. Howard, B. Phelan; T. Reade, S. Daly, T. Kirwan. Subs: G. Hurney for McGrath, C. Watt for Power, N. Dunphy for Kirwan.