THE Cork U-21 hurlers set a marker for their seniors for next Sunday’s All-Ireland replay by crushing Waterford in a one-sided Erin Munster championship final at Walsh Park last night.
There was never a hint of an upset in this contest as a finely-tuned Cork side held all the aces throughout the field. Such was their dominance they could afford the luxury of hitting 10 wides. The victory sees the Leesiders move top of the roll of honour with Tipperary with 18 titles.
Defensively Cork were superb; apart from one moment of carelessness from Ken O’Halloran, which could have cost his side a precious goal, he was in total command of his square.
Outside him John O’Callaghan, Eoin Dillon and Conor O’Driscoll hurled with supreme confidence. However Cork laid the foundations for their success in their half back line. Shane O’Neill and Aidan Ryan gave nothing away but it was centre back Eoin Cadogan who stole the show with a majestic display, and scored two excellent points.
Leigh Desmond and Adrian Mannix gave Cork control of midfield with both players finding time to score three points each. Up front, Cork did exceedingly well.
Cathal Naughton gave the senior selectors a timely reminder that he wants a start next Sunday scoring 1-4, all from play. Colm O’Neill’s ability to win ball from the air ensured the Waterford defence was under constant pressure and the scores came freely.
Pat Horgan chipped in with three points from play and it surprised many when he was substituted.
Much was expected of Waterford and the 6,000-plus spectators came looking for their team to put down a marker for Sunday.
However they never got out of the blocks; chasing the game all through, they hit 11 wides; were almost totally reliant on Mark Gorman for scores — he scored all but four of his side’s tally — and only Tommy Power, Richie Foley and Pa Kearney can take any solace from defeat.
Cork settled quickly and might have had a goal in the opening minute but after winning the ball superbly from the air, Pat Horgan shot tamely at the Waterford ‘keeper. A goalmouth melee ensued with a Waterford defender protecting the ball on the ground, but unlike in Croke Park last Sunday, the referee opted to throw in the ball.
The dominance of the Cork half-back line and in particular Eoin Cadogan in the centre of defence, meant a lot of pressure on the home defence and the visitors were full value for their 0-3 to 0-1 lead by the 10th minute, after Cathal Naughton had opening the scoring.
Naughton showed his class with a fine goal in the 13th minute.
It came following a massive clearance by Cadogan caught by Eoghan Murphy whose hand pass put Naughton through and he duly obliged with the goal. Cork should have been more than the four points in front, but poor finishing cost them at least another four points, as they hit six wides in the first quarter.
An air of casualness began to creep into the Cork play and goalkeeper Ken O’Halloran was a little fortunate not to concede a goal to Ross O’Keeffe who flicked the sliotar off his hurley but it went wide with the goal open.
Cork led 1-7 to 0-5 at the break and Waterford began the second half with a completely new midfield, moving Kevin Moran and Michael Gaffney out. It made little difference as Cork continued to hurl with confidence all over the field.
Three points in a row were added; one a magnificent effort by Cadogan from a free inside his own 65 and by the end of the third quarter Cork had stretched their lead to 10 points, 1-15 to 0-8 and the outcome was inevitable.
Given their dominance, it was surprising the selectors left the two senior players on and there was concern when Shane O’Neill went down injured. He continued on after treatment before he was eventually taken off along with Pa Cronin.
The last quarter petered out with Cork scoring points at will and it was fitting that Eoin Cadogan, easily the man of the match, should have the final say with another massive point from midfield to put the cap on a splendid victory for the Leesiders. Significantly all but three of Cork’s scores came from play.
Scorers: Cork: C. Naughton 1-4; A. Mannix, L. Desmond 0-3 each; P. Horgan, E. Cadogan, P. Cronin, C. O’Neill 0-2 each; K. Canty, E. Murphy 0-1 each. Waterford: M. Gorman 0-6 (0-5 frees, 0-1 65); P. Kearney 0-2; K. Moran, R. Foley 0-1 each.
CORK: K. O’Halloran; J. O’Callaghan, E. Dillon, C. O’Driscoll; S. O’Neill, E. Cadogan, A. Ryan; L. Desmond, A. Mannix; P. Cronin, K. Canty, C. Naughton; P. Horgan, E. Murphy, C. O’Neill.
Subs: J. Halbert for Horgan; M. Walsh for Cronin; S. White for O’Neill; B. Corry for O’Neill.
WATERFORD: D. Ryan; J. Maher, J. Kindergan, T. Power; C. Ryan, M. Gaffney, R. Foley; J. O’Farrell, M. Gorman; M. Fives, K. Moran, S. Walsh; S. Casey, R. O’Keeffe, P. Kearney.
Subs: P. Hurney for Gaffney; K. Landers for O’Keeffe;
Referee: J. Ryan (Tipperary).