Clinical Rebels power past Déise

NO SURPRISES in the sunshine of Fraher Field yesterday, with Cork running out comfortable winners over Waterford in this Munster SFC clash to set up their expected clash with Kerry in the Munster semi-final.

The 3,504 supporters – many from Cork – who were in Dungarvan enjoyed the summer sun but a strong breeze blew towards the scoreboard end of the ground, helping Cork in the first half, and Waterford opted to withdraw players when they faced the wind. It didn’t work as a tactic – Déise scoring forward Liam O Lionnain and his marker Ray Carey tussled behind the Waterford 45-metre line more than once, and Cork had time and space in which to build attacks, enjoying the luxury of several short kick-outs to unmarked defenders.

After an initial burst from Waterford in which they notched a point from a Brian Wall free and two wides, Cork settled down to dominate the middle third of the field with Nicholas Murphy very prominent. They were on the scoreboard through Paul O’Flynn and Donncha O’Connor (free) before the critical event of the first half.

In the 10th minute, Daniel Goulding found Paul O’Flynn with a neat pass, and Donncha O’Connor’s crossfield run, opening up the space, gave O’Flynn plenty of open ground ahead of him. The Ballyclough man made ground before timing his handpass across the square, where O’Connor rose to flick home, but Waterford full-back Thomas O’Gorman got the final touch, turning the ball into his own net as he tried to put it wide.

The Leesiders weren’t long pressing home their advantage, going on a streak of eight unanswered points as Waterford struggled to break out of their own half; Cork wrapped up their scoring spree with a long-distance point from full-back Michael Shields, which underlined the freedom the defenders in red enjoyed.

Waterford had to rely on the odd individual flash for consolation, and good work by Gary Hurney forced an opening, but his strong shot was saved well by Alan Quirke. By contrast, any time Cork sallied upfield they looked likely to score, and Kerry boss Jack O’Connor, sitting in the stand, will have noted the Cork penchant playing diagonal balls into the left corner for Donncha O’Connor to feast upon.

Sean O’Hare’s point for Waterford on the half-time whistle left the score 1-10 to 0-3, but the game swiftly deteriorated as a competitive spectacle. Having established a match-winning double-digit lead, Cork seemed happy to keep Waterford contained, adding a Miskella point on 49 minutes. It was immediately followed by a long Masters delivery which was nudged over the line by Paul Kerrigan for an untidy goal: Cork 15 ahead.

Waterford didn’t die – quick thinking by Shane Walsh produced a goal from a free reducing the difference to 12 points with quarter of an hour left, and Alan Quirke had to look lively soon after to save from O Lionnain.

Cork finished the game 14 points ahead, and apart from a couple of injury worries, manager Conor Counihan’s main headache will selecting a team to face Kerry.

His defence looks settled, but Colm O’Neill looked classy when introduced in the second half, and Michael Cussen may also come into the reckoning.

However, Alan O’Connor left before half-time with an injury, and O’Neill also took a knock and left the action before full-time: Counihan admitted after the game that with only two weeks to go until his side face Kerry, they have little enough time to get everyone fit. For Waterford it’s back to the drawing board, though manager John Kiely remains optimistic ahead of Waterford’s next outing is on July 4.

Scorers for Waterford: S. Walsh 1-0 (f), B. Wall 0-2 (fs), W. Hennessy, S. Cunningham, M. O’Gorman, G. Hurney and S. O’Hare o-1 each.

Scorers for Cork: D. O’Connor 0-5 (03 fs), P. Kerrigan 1-2, T. O’Gorman 1-0 (OG), J. Miskella 0-3, D. Goulding, C. O’Neill and J. Masters 0-2 each; P. O’Flynn and M. Shields 0-1 each.

WATERFORD: T. Wall, S. Briggs, T. O’Gorman, E. Rockett, W. Hennessy, M. O’Gorman (c), T. Grey, S. O’Hare, G. Hurney, B. Wall, S. Walsh, G. Power, L. Lawlor, L O Lionnain, P. Hurney.

Subs: P. Ogle for Grey, S. Cunningham for Power (50); M. O’Gorman for P. Hurney (61).

CORK: A. Quirke, R. Carey, M. Shields, A. Lynch, J. Miskella, G. Canty (c), G. Spillane, A. O’Connor, N. Murphy, P. O’Flynn, P. O’Neill, P. Kerrigan, D. Goulding, J. Masters, D. O’Connor.

Subs: F. Goold for A. O’Connor (34); K O’Connor for Lynch (49); N. O’Leary for Spillane and J. Hayes for D. O’Connor (52); C. O’Neill for Masters (60).

Referee: R. Hickey (Clare).

* A minute’s silence was observed before the game in memory of Michael Curran, former chairman of Dungarvan GAA club.

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