By Denis Hurley
Cork 0-23 Waterford 1-17: A strong second half earned Cork a place in the Bord Gáis Energy Munster U21HC final as they came from behind to beat Waterford at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Trailing by 1-8 to 0-8 at half-time, the Rebels fell further behind as John Paul Lucey and Darragh Lyons had points for Waterford on the resumption, but they responded well with five in a row, from Robbie O’Flynn (two), influential subs Daire Connery, free-taker Declan Dalton and captain Shane Kingston.
While Jack Prendergast and goalkeeper Billy Nolan scored frees as Waterford pushed ahead again, Cork had got on top with Billy Hennessy and Darragh Fitzgibbon impressive and they finally hit the front through Mark Coleman on 51 minutes, with Dalton, Fitzgibbon, Jack O’Connor and sub Conor Cahalane on target as they saw out the game.
The win guarantees Cork two more games under the new system which sees the Munster and Leinster champions play the runners-up from the other province, but it was a victory which didn’t look at all certain in the first half.
A ninth-minute Lucey goal put Waterford 1-2 to 0-2 in front with Andrew Casey and Neil Montgomery adding further points, and their lead never dropped below three for the rest of the half, Nolan twice making good saves.
While they would start the second half well, Cork dug deep and eventually managed to seize control.
Scorers for Cork: D Dalton 0-8 (frees), D Fitzgibbon 0-3, S Kingston, R O’Flynn, J O’Connor, D Connery, L Healy 0-2 each, M Coleman, C Cahalane 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford: JP Lucey 1-2, J Prendergast 0-4 (frees), B Nolan 0-3 (frees), A Casey 0-2, P Hogan, D Lyons, N Montgomery, I Daly, C Prunty, C Lyons 0-1 each.
CORK: G Collins (Ballinhassig); D Lowney (Clonakilty), D Griffin (Carrigaline), N O’Leary (Castlelyons); E Murphy (Sarsfields), M Coleman (Blarney), B Hennessy (St Finbarr’s); C O’Leary (Valley Rovers), D Fitzgibbon (Charleville); R O’Flynn (Erin’s Own), D Dalton (Fr O’Neills), M O’Halloran (Blackrock); L Healy (Sarsfields), S Kingston (Douglas), J O’Connor (Sarsfields).
Subs: D Connery (Na Piarsaigh) for O’Halloran (36), C Cahalane (St Finbarr’s) for O’Leary (44), L O’Shea (Lisgoold) for O’Connor (60).
WATERFORD: B Nolan (Roanmore); J Curran (Dungarvan), M Daykin (Mount Sion), D Lynch (Passage); C Prunty (Abbeyside), J Henley (Tallow), G Cullinane (Passage); A Casey (Ballyduff Upper), M Mahony (Ballygunner); D Lyons (Dungarvan), JP Lucey (Shamrocks), N Montgomery (Abbeyside); E Meaney (De La Salle), J Prendergast (Tramore), P Hogan (Ballygunner).
Subs: I Beecher (Tallow) for Casey (42), I Daly (Lismore) for Montgomery (54), C Lyons (Ballyduff Lower) for Lynch (49), H Ruddle (Ballygunner) for Meaney (60).
Referee: J McCormack (Tipperary).