Déise boss Meaney braced for fierce battle as Rebels hunting final place

WATERFORD and Cork square off in tonight’s ESB Munster MHC semi-final replay in Walsh Park at 7.30pm with a place in next Sunday’s provincial decider against Clare in Semple Stadium the prize on offer for the victors.

Eleven days ago, Waterford’s free-scoring attacker Pauric Mahony nailed an injury-time free at the conclusion of extra-time in Páirc Uí Chaoimh to send this tie to a replay yet despite having home advantage on this occasion, Déise boss Jim Meaney is adamant that this will be a close-fought encounter again.

“People may say that the balance has now tilted our way because we have home advantage, but we don’t see it that way at all. We are playing a Cork team that just doesn’t want to hear of the word defeat as they proved in winning against Tipp also in extra-time. As far as we are concerned its only half-time in this semi-final and still all to play for. But that said, we are ready and will be up for it.”

Tonight’s game constitutes the first time Cork have had to travel away this season but manager John Considine is still looking forward to the task ahead.

“It’s different that it’s away and you’d imagine that there is an advantage in being at home, so they’ll have more support. But then again if we’re ahead, maybe the advantage will be with us. We’ve no real injury problems, just a few knocks around the squad but the lads involved last Sunday with the minor footballers have come through it okay. If we win they’d face three games in the space of a week, but that would be a great problem to have as it means they are successful. We’re looking forward to it big time, it’ll be a tough game and the last night showed you’ll have two good teams out there.”

If there is one area where Cork need to work on, it is the frequency with which they concede placed balls to the Ballygunner sharpshooter Mahony in the Waterford ranks. Mahony struck 1-12 from frees in the drawn encounter and clearly cannot be afforded the opportunity to rack up a similar total on this occasion.

“It’s something we’ve to work on,” admits Considine. “Tipp also got a good few scores from frees so we need to watch that. They got more frees than we did but we can’t blame the referee for all of that. The share of that problem has to come from ourselves. There were over eight weeks since our last game and that would have affected both teams. But we’ll be trying to iron out our errors and if we get the same scoring return as the drawn game, we need to stop the frees then.”

Mahony will be the main man in the Waterford line-up but Luke Egan, Darragh Fives and Jake Dillon are other key operators. For Cork the attacking triumvirate of Conor Lehane, Jamie Coughlan and Brian Hartnett have all shown good form, and if they are serviced regularly here they could be the critical difference.

WATERFORD MH: D Duggan; J Barron, S O’Keeffe, L Egan; R Barry, D Fives, E Madigan; P Prendergast, G O’Brien; P Mahony, E Murphy, J Dillon; S Roche, C Heffernan, M O’Neill.

CORK MH: W McCarthy; D Cahalane, C Spillane, D Lester; K Buckley, C Joyce, D O’Carroll; D Sweetnam, N Kelly; S O’Keeffe, C Lehane, S Moore; J Coughlan, D Lordan, B Hartnett.

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