Cork made all the right moves
By Donal O’Grady
Cork showed good character in coming from behind to beat Waterford.
Jimmy Barry-Murphy and his management team will be pleased with their efforts, making crucial switches and substitutions.
With 15 minutes to go, Waterford led by three points and Cork had only scored three points up to then in the second period, but they still pulled through. Cork’s defence yielded only a point to the Déise in that last 15 minutes — a long-range free from Maurice Shanahan, 13 minutes after John Mullane had their final point from play. In contrast, Cork rattled off 0-7 in that time, including an inspirational score from Séan Óg Ó hAilpín to push them two clear.
Cork’s management made five substitutions in the second-half, all of whom made worthwhile contributions, while Waterford replacements Eoin McGrath and Shane Casey, despite working hard, missed good chances to win the game.
In the 57th minute Shane Walsh, who scored two nice points, limped off, and with him went strength, experience and know-how. The Déise goal threat diminished further as Mullane was playing out the field.
For the 73 minutes of the contest, Waterford failed to create a single goal chance, while Cork scored one through Jamie Coughlan in the 15th minute, while in the first seconds Luke O’Farrell hit the crossbar and Patrick Horgan also shot against full-back Liam Lawlor — naively — a pass or extra step could have yielded another goal.
After nine minutes scores were level, two points apiece, but Cork fired 1-2 without reply in a six-minute spell. Waterford went 13 minutes without a score. Daniel Kearney was busy and bright, making six positive contributions in the first 20 minutes, but he faded in the heavy traffic of midfield for the final 15 minutes of the half. Patrick Cronin was Cork’s top player in the first-half, with eight positive contributions, scoring two points and contributing assists for Coughlan’s goal and Cian McCarthy’s valuable point just before half-time.
After 20 minutes Cork had six scores from 13 chances, while Waterford had two scores from six opportunities. But Waterford’s management moved smartly at that point. Manager Michael Ryan brought Kevin Moran to midfield, where he and Stephen Molumphy ruled until half-time.
Both had seven possessions and battled to bring Waterford back into the game. John Mullane was switched to right-half-forward but played in a free midfield role, and those three helped Waterford score nine points in this period, 11 in total at the break.
Mullane was involved in the play 10 times in the first-half, scoring a point, set up four points from play and won two frees which were scored, as well as picking up possession from puck-outs. This was a huge contribution and his deep-lying role caught Cork off guard, as they failed to limit his influence.
Questions will be asked of Cork custodian Anthony Nash. He hit one puck-out directly to Mullane, who was deep in his own defence at the time, and he (Nash) landed a number of others on top of Waterford’s main ball-winners, Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh and Kevin Moran. Stephen Molumphy and the aforementioned Mullane picked up the breaks from those puck-outs, which gave Waterford the platform for their nine point turnaround.
Credit Cork’s management, they moved Tom Kenny onto Mullane before half-time and he stuck with the Waterford man in the second-half, limiting Mullane to a single point.
The game was finely balanced but for the final 15 minutes Cork’s half-back line were dominant, with their midfield combative and highly competitive. Cork won over 80%of Waterford’s puck-outs in this period; Déise keeper Stephen O’Keeffe concentrated his puck-outs on his right wing with no success, due to the combined efforts of John Gardiner, Sean Óg Ó hAilpín and Darren Sweetnam. Gardiner was unspectacular, but made four vital contributions and tightened up the centre for the last 15 minutes.
Sweetnam made six positive contributions, both in defence and up front, making a trademark run in the 64th minute to set up Luke O’Farrell for a point. Cathal Naughton was involved in the play only four times in his 30 minutes, but he made a massive contribution — scoring two points and clearing off the line late on.
Cork’s inside line did well with limited possession — Pat Horgan had seven points, three from play, a fine contribution, but he’ll be disappointed he spurned some good chances.
Luke O’Farrell won two valuable frees to go with his point, one from a brilliant straight run, when he took on the Waterford defence directly late in the game.
Waterford manager Michael Ryan did well on the line but didn’t possess the power off the bench JBM had at his disposal. Bi-location is beyond even the top players, but how Ryan would have wished for Mullane to have gotten the chances spurned by Eoin McGrath and Shane Casey. But that’s sport.
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