By Michael Moynihan
Cork 2-18 Waterford 0-13
A chilly evening in north Cork began with freezing showers but warmed up, in fairness, for participants and the 588 spectators alike at this Munster Senior Hurling League clash.
Cork will be happy with their eleven-point win over neighbours Waterford, but the calendar, the climate and the conditioning of all concerned mean nobody will get too excited.
Cork opened early with a good Patrick O'Rourke point and Patrick Cronin added a 65 soon afterwards.
Waterford then got into gear, with Colin Dunford and Shane Bennett impressing at midfield, supplying the Déise forward division with plenty of ball. However, Bennett's radar was off, with the Ballysaggart man putting three frees wide before finding his range.
Luke O'Farrell's sharpness got two points for Cork but Bennett (frees) and Shane O'Sullivan nudged Waterford ahead, 0-5 to 0-4, at the end of the first quarter.
Seamus Harnedy, on as a blood sub for O'Rourke, had an immediate impact, hitting two points and pushing Cork ahead, thanks also to a Cronin free. A sumptuous touch from Tommy Ryan put Mikey Kearney through on goal on 21 minutes, but Patrick Collins saved calmly for Cork.
Two Bennett frees cut Cork's advantage to one, 0-7 to 0-6, before Cork hit three - Cronin (free), O'Farrell and Brosnan. Inevitably, Bennett responded with two scores as half-time approached, but there was still time for a Cronin free to push Cork three clear - 0-11 to 0-8 at the break.
Cork almost opened with a goal in the second half, but Damien Cahalane couldn't finish at the Waterford end. The men in white - who made three substitutions at the break - were sharper on the resumption. The lively Tommy Ryan had two good scores, a point either side of another Bennett free, while Cork didn't trouble the scoreboard for 11 minutes of the half, until Cronin pointed a close-in free.
Approaching the three-quarter mark another Cronin free put Cork one ahead; when he added two more there was a relatively sizeable gap for the first time, though Waterford sub. Andy Molumphy cut their lead to two.
Cork's goal on 56 minutes, though, settled matters. Substitute William Leahy made no mistake when placed near the Waterford goal, netting with a wicked drive. In a game of close margins it looked enough to see Cork home, given it pushed their lead to five points, and so it proved.
Cronin, Leahy and Cooper added points to make the game safe for the home side, with the result decided long before the final whistle - particularly when Cronin also added a late goal.
Elsewhere it was all one way traffic at Sixmilebridge when Clare had 25 points to spare over Kerry.
Munster Senior Hurling League
Clare 2-27 pic.twitter.com/O8EsWM0XgM— Kerry GAA (@Kerry_Official) January 13, 2016
Played in front of 510 hardy souls who braved the elements, the home side started with six players who featured in their All-Ireland win in 2013 had too much in the tank for a hapless Kerry outfit.
The gulf in class was evidenced in the fact that the Banner lead by 1-16 to 0-3 at the break. Kerry achieved their opening score, a Mikey Boyle point, in the 21st minute. At this juncture Clare had amassed a whopping 1-10, exhibiting a high work rate and the goal came courtesy of wing forward Peter Duggan.
After half-time though Kerry regrouped and featured well in the third quarter. They outscored their opponents by five points to one in that period but a resurgent Clare retook command as the game progressed, with some impressive scores by the likes of Daire Keane, Cathal O’Connell and Mikey O Malley.
When Peter Duggan got in for his second goal with three minutes remaining, Clare were home and hosed.
Scorers for Cork: P. Cronin (0-6 fs, 0-1 65)(1-8); W. Leahy (1-1); L. O'Farrell (0-3); S. Harnedy (0-2); B. Cooper, P. O'Rourke, S. Moylan, D. Brosnan (0-1) each.
Scorers for Waterford: S. Bennett (0-6, frees); T. Ryan, T. Waring (0-2) each; S. O'Sullivan M. Kearney, A. Molumphy (0-1) each.
CORK: P. Collins, S. Murphy, M. Ellis, C. Buckley, P. O'Mahony, B. Moylan, W. Egan, C. Murphy, D. Cahalane, D. Brosnan, B. Cooper, P. Cronin, P. O'Rourke, L. O'Farrell, S. Moylan.
Subs: S. Harnedy for O'Rourke (blood, 17-23); P. O'Sullivan for Buckley (45); W. Leahy for O'Farrell, inj., (53); S. Harnedy for Brosnan, (60)
WATERFORD: I. O'Regan, C. Gleeson, S. Roche, K. Bennett, P. Prendergast, S. McNulty, G. O'Brien, C. Dunford, S. Bennett, C. Guiry, S. O'Sullivan, T. Waring, T. Ryan, C. Roche, M. Kearney.
Subs: F. McGrath for McNulty (blood, 35-HT); F. McGrath for G. O'Brien, S. Keating for Guiry, A. Molumphy for Dunford, S. Ryan for Prendergast (HT); H. Barnes for S. Bennett (55);
Referee: D. O'Driscoll (Limerick).