By Eoghan Cormican at Fraher Field.
Cork survived a major scare from Waterford to scrap through to a Munster semi-final meeting with Tipperary.
Injury-time points from Colm O’Neill (free) and Paul Kerrigan were the crucial scores to see the visitors past a stubborn and well-organised Waterford outfit.
Congrats to Cork, 1 point winners over Waterford after an absorbing second half of Football - could have gone either way pic.twitter.com/gaz0pbhLrN— Munster GAA (@MunsterGAA) May 27, 2017
Having trailed 1-4 to 0-4 at the break, Waterford’s challenge took flight when Gavin Crotty punished a Ryan Price mistake with a well-taken goal. The green flag arrived either side of missed goal chances by Cork, Paul Kerrigan and Colm O’Neill both shooting wide from close range.
Paul Whyte subsequently nudged the underdogs in front and their lead was doubled by the excellent Donie Breathnach. Experienced heads Donncha O’Connor and James Loughrey brought Peadar Healy’s back on level terms, but they were unable to push on.
Two further Breathnach frees either side of a Donncha O’Connor placed ball kick at the other end had Waterford 1-8 to 1-7 in front with one hour run on the clock. A shock looked on the cards as Waterford played with a belief rarely associated with them.
Paul Kerrigan, Donncha O’Connor and Mark Collins kicked three on the bounce to steady Rebel nerves but the Déise just would not go away and restored parity through Whyte and Breathnach (free). There followed seven dramatic minutes of injury-time where Cork fell over the line.
Waterford had the benefit of a slight wind in the opening period but adopted a hugely negative approach, funnelling 13 men deep into their own half on each occasion Cork pressed forward. The Déise blanket did succeed in making life extremely difficult for the visitors and it was only in first-half stoppages that the Rebels managed to plug holes in the Waterford defence during successive plays.
John O’Rourke landed his third point and that was followed by a white flag by Paul Kerrigan – these two were the only Cork players to score in the first-half – to move the favourites 1-4 to 0-4 in front at the break. It should have been more, with Colm O’Neill missing a free and James Loughrey’s effort dropping short during the four minutes of additional time allotted by referee Rory Hickey.
The decisive score of the first-half was Kerrigan’s 17th minute goal, his fisted effort somehow squirming past several white jerseys camped in the Waterford goalmouth. That score made it 1-1 to 0-2, with Donie Breathnach (free) and Tommy Prendergast firing over early points for the home outfit. Waterford were let down by several poor wides, Breathnach, Gavin Crotty and James McGrath among the guilty party. They were gutted at the final whistle as a first championship win over Cork since 1960 just escaped them. Cork certainly escaped.
Scorers for Cork: P Kerrigan (1-3); D O’Connor (0-1 free), J O’Rourke (0-3 each); J Loughrey, C O’Neill (0-1 free), M Collins (0-1 each).
Scorers for Waterford: D Breathnach ((0-6, 0-5 frees); G Crotty (1-0); P Whyte (0-2); T Prendergast, M Curry, K Murphy (0-1 each).
Cork: K O’Halloran; K Crowley, M Shields, J O’Sullivan; T Clancy, J Loughrey, S Cronin; A Walsh, R Deane; K O’Driscoll, M Collins, J O’Rourke; C O’Neill, P Kelleher, P Kerrigan.
Subs: A O’Connor for Walsh (10 mins, inj); D O’Connor for K O’Driscoll (45); I Maguire for Deane (49); S Powter for Cronin (52); G Murphy for Kelleher (64); B O’Driscoll for O’Rourke (67)
Waterford: S Enright; B Looby, R O’Ceallaigh, T O’Gorman; J McGrath, S Prendergast, T Ó hUallacháin; T Prendergast, M Curry; D Breathnach, J Veale, G Crotty; A Trihy, F Ó Cuirrín, P Whyte.
Subs: C Murray for Ó Cuirrín (44); M O’Halloran for Veale (47); L Ó Corraoin for Looby (66, inj); D Guiry for Trihy (69).
Referee: R Hickey (Clare).