The great rivals served up another compelling game in last night’s Munster intermediate final at Fraher Field, Dungarvan, with Cork coming with a magnificent late surge to erase a seemingly decisive Waterford lead and fashion a thrilling and deserved victory at the death.
Nearly 3,000 fans revelled in the drama of those exhilarating closing stages, and extra-time loomed when the sides were deadlocked on the scoreboard with just 90 seconds of normal time remaining.
It was midfielder Barry MacGearailt’s point that brought Cork level, but scenting victory, they now drove forward and further points from Bill Cooper and substitute John Halbert gave Cork their win.
The opening half was a tame enough affair, Waterford definitely enjoying the better of the exchanges and not at all flattered by their 0-7 to 0-5 lead at the break.
The opening score from play didn’t come until the 11th minute when Patrick Hurney found the range for Waterford, and 60 seconds later Cork had a great goal chance when they were awarded a penalty for a foul on Michael O’Sullivan.
Just as in the senior final last Saturday however Mark Harrington’s effort failed to beat the three-man wall, the ball being deflected out for a ‘65’ by John O’Leary.
Nicky Jacob was emerging as a major threat to the Cork defence when he moved from full to centre forward in a direct swap with the hard working Tommy Connors, and it was Jacob’s quality point that had Waterford 0-6 to 0-4 in front as the half ended with an exchange of points between the excellent Danny O’Callaghan and Gorman (free).
Waterford followed on with a real purple patch and had opened up a five-point advantage by the 40th minute.
But when courage, character and commitment were needed in this final the Corkmen weren’t found wanting. Point by point they began eating into the Waterford lead, and two of them by Harrington and O’Sullivan would grace any final.
That Harrington score in the 57th minute brought the sides level, 0-12 apiece, but within a minute substitute Tomas Ryan had Waterford back in front with an equally impressive score from the sideline.
Only for 20 seconds however as Cork attacked from the puck out and the sides were deadlocked once more as Barry MacGearailt’s sweetly struck delivery split the uprights.
Extra time surely would now be needed to try and separate them, but Cork had other ideas and they came aggressively forward searching for a winner. Youghal clubman Bill Cooper was the man to deliver it for them with another beauty of a point before substitute John Halbert fired over the score that made it a two-point game.
Scorers for Cork: E Conway (0-5, 4f, 1‘65’); B Cooper (0-2); M O’Sullivan (0-2); D O’Callaghan (0-2, 0-1 free); M Harrington, B MacGearailt, B Lawton, J Halbert (0-1) each.
Scorers for Waterford: M Gorman, 0-5 (5f); J Kearney, N Jacob, 0-2 each; P Hurney, B Phelan, T Connors, T Ryan, 0-1 each.
CORK: D McCarthy; M Walsh, C Fogarty, B Coleman; D Lucey, K Hartnett, M Ellis; D O’Callaghan, B MacGearailt; E Conway, B Cooper, C Casey; M Harrington, B Corry, M O’Sullivan.
Subs: S Corry for Lucey (35); B Lawton for Casey (45); J Halbert for Conway (50).
WATERFORD: A Power; S Kearney (Dungarvan), J O’Leary, S Kearney (Lismore); J Coffey, P Murray, J Hurney; B Phelan, N O’Mhurchu; P Hurney, T Connors, J Kearney; M Gorman, N Jacob, D Murphy.
Subs: S Fives for J Hurney (ht); T Ryan for Murphy (40); C O’Gorman for Gorman (44); C Carey for P Hurney (54); P Mahony for Coffey (56).
Referee: Michael O’Connor (Limerick).