Cork 2-15 Waterford 2-15
Tony Browne's injury-time goal secured Waterford a draw in a pulsating Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship final at Thurles today.
With Cork leading by a goal deep in added time, Browne was on hand to whip home the rebound after Eoin Kelly's free was saved. Prior to that, two goals in the second half from Aisake Ó hAilpín and Ben O'Connor proved crucial for Denis Walsh's men, while the excellent play of Ronan Curran at centre-back was a standout feature for them.
Despite the heroics of Eoin Kelly and John Mullane, who accounted for the bulk of their scores, Waterford were let down in too many areas and failed to build on a four-point lead early in the second half, with their chance seemingly gone.
The first half failed to live up to the pre-match hype, with the Déise holding a 0-7 to 0-6 lead at the break, with the teams having been level on four different occasions.
Waterford shaded matters overall though, and deserved to be in the lead, though the most they led at any stage was by two points, with Eoin Kelly proving to be accurate from frees.
In contrast, Ben O’Connor was struggling with his frees, with one of his points having looked as if it had tailed wide. Apart from Niall McCarthy, the Cork forwards were not getting much change out of the Waterford defence, and poor shooting when chances presented themselves was costing them.
The only time the Rebels led in the opening period was after two Cathal Naughton points in 60 seconds early on to put them 0-2 to 0-1 ahead but Shane O’Sullivan’s second point and one from John Mullane ensured Waterford led 0-4 to 0-2 before a brace from Ben O’Connor levelled.
John Mullane could then have opened up a goal advantage for Davy Fitzgerald’s side but Dónal Óg Cusack was quick off his line to narrow the angle and Mullane’s shot was wide.
Kelly’s three frees, with a point from Seán Óg Ó hAilpín Cork’s only response, left two in it as half-time approached – Kelly also having a goal attempt that Cusack saved comfortably – but a 65 by John Gardiner meant there was the minimum in it as the sides went in at the interval.
A blistering start to the second half, with Mullane pointing after less than 15 seconds and Kelly adding two, left Waterford four clear and seemingly cruising but good points from Tom Kenny and Gardiner were keeping Cork in touch.
Ben O’Connor’s close-range free and a point from distance by sub Michael Cussen – whose introduction brought about a change to a more direct style – had Cork level at 0-12 each and though Kelly put Waterford back in front, the game looked to have turned on two goals in the space of three minutes.
First, Aisake Ó hAilpín was put in by a Ben O’Connor flick and fired past Clinton Hennesy; then O’Connor himself was the beneficiary of Kieran Murphy’s quick thinking to find him in acres of space before blasting home.
Those goals left Cork 2-12 to 0-13 ahead but a Kelly free cut the gap to four before the same player beat Cusack with a brilliant shot from just outside the 20m line to leave the minimum between the sides with 10 minutes left.
Cork looked to be finisihing stronger, however, as Brian Murphy and Niall McCarthy opened up a goal lead and though Kelly and O'Connor exchanged frees, that was still the gap as the game moved into its four alloted minutes of injury time.
Waterford's chance looked to be gone but they were given a lifeline when awarded a 20m free. Though Kelly's shot was saved, veteran Tony Browne was on hand to fire home the rebound and send the game to a replay.
CORK: D Óg Cusack; S O’Neill, E Cadogan, B Murphy (0-1); J Gardiner (0-3, 0-1f, 0-1 65), R Curran, S Óg Ó hAilpín (0-1); T Kenny (0-1), C Naughton (0-2); B O’Connor (1-5, 0-4f), J O’Connor, N McCarthy (0-1); K Murphy, A Ó hAilpín (1-0), P Horgan.
Subs: R Ryan for S Óg Ó hAilpín (45, injured), M Cussen (0-1) for J O’Connor (47), P O’Sullivan for K Murphy (56), P Cronin for P Horgan (63)
WATERFORD: C Hennessy; E Murphy, L Lawlor, N Connors; T Browne (1-0, M Walsh, D Prendergast; S O’Sullivan (0-2, 0-1 sideline), R Foley; S Walsh, K Moran (0-1), E Kelly (1-8, 0-6f, 0-1 65); S Molumphy, J Mullane (0-4), E McGrath.
Subs: K McGrath for Foley (29-33, blood), S Prendergast for E McGrath (47), J Nagle for Lawlor (50), D Shanahan for K Moran, M Shanahan for S Walsh, K McGrath for Foley (all 59).
Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary).