THE superb marksmanship of Brendan Barry powered Cork to a comfortable victory over Waterford in the Erin Munster U-21 hurling championship semi-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last night.
Barry left his calling card with a tremendous display, scoring 2-4 from play, as the home side reached their second final in a row.
It wasn’t by any means a vintage Cork display and, while they will be happy with the result, there were areas around the field they won’t be too happy with.
Waterford had the wind advantage in the first-half and needed at least a six-point lead at half time if they were going to have any chance. Defensively Cork were excellent with Chris Murphy, Eoin O’Sullivan and Eoin Cadogan particularly impressive. Mark Harrington helped give Cork the advantage at midfield in the first-half, but he faded before finishing strongly in the second-half.
Apart from Barry up front Ronan Conway had his moments, as did Patrick Cronin. Maurice O’Sullivan’s unerring free taking earned him six points, but it’s an area that will concern the mentors ahead of next month’s final.
For their part Waterford contributed handsomely to a game that was level six times, but they wasted a lot of chances, particularly in the first-half, that proved costly. Kevin Moran was excellent at centre back; Shane O’Sullivan showed marvellous ball control to land four points, but their attack lacked any real penetration.
Cork won the toss and elected to play against the wind. And they struck for an early goal when Brendan Barry ran on to Mark Harrington’s long delivery to slip the ball home after just two minutes.
They failed to build on that early goal and Waterford settled well with Kevin Moran and Liam Lawlor prominent for them. And they were level after 20 minutes with a rather fortuitous goal by Tommy Power, whose excellent line ball went all the way to the net as Mark Gorman ran across the line of vision of the Cork ‘keeper.
However, Cork were back for another goal a few minutes later when Brendan Barry showed a clean pair of heels to the Waterford defence, racing 50 metres before billowing the net.
While the sides swapped points to be level on three occasions, the defending champions were more than happy to go in at the break on level terns, 2-3 to 1-6.
Waterford resumed the second half with Shane O’Sullivan at wing forward and two evenly matched sides were level on three further occasions before Cork’s dominance in defence, achieved through the excellence of Eoin Cadogan and Chris Murphy, began to tell.
Ronan Conway showed his undoubted class with a tremendous goal after a 40-metre run.
Despite the fact that Waterford hit back for a similar score from Mark Gorman, who first-timed Gearoid O’Connor’s pass to the net, Cork were in full control.
Seven points in a row were rifled over as the Waterford failed to score for the last 12 minutes, but Cork will have to improve if they are to retain their title in next month’s final against arch rivals Tipperary, fixed for Thurles on August 9.
Scorers: Cork: B. Barry 2-4; M. O’Sullivan 0-6 (frees); R. Conway 1-1; P. Cronin 0-2; M. Harrington, K. Canty, O. Cadogan, C. Murphy 0-1 each. Waterford: S. O’Sullivan 0-4; M. Gorman 1-2; T. Power 1-1; L. Lawlor, R. Foley, D. Hickey, G. O’Connor, M. Gaffney 0-1 each.
CORK: K. O’Halloran; C. Murphy, E. Dillon, E. O’Sullivan; E. Cadogan, A. Ryan, S. Cronin; C. Naughton, M. Harrington; R. Conway, K. Canty, P. O’Brien; M. O’Sullivan, P. Cronin, B. Barry.
Subs: M. Walsh for Ryan; G. O’Leary for O’Brien; D. Dorris for Canty.
WATERFORD: D. Ryan; J. O’Farrell, J. Kindergan, M. O’Brien; R. Foley, K., Moran, W. Hutchinson; S. O’Sullivan, D. Russell; J. Shanahan, L. Lawlor, T. Power; M. Gorman, M. Fives, G. O’Connor.
Subs: D. Hickey for O’Farrell; M. Gaffney for Shanahan; P. Kearney for Lawlor; M. Kearney for Power.
Referee: B. White (Tipperary).
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