Alan O’Connor and Kevin McMahon were the only two players in action that celebrated on the Hogan Stand podium last September as the rest of their team-mates are not scheduled to return from their holiday in South Africa until next Friday.
But a Cork team, packed with new faces eager to make an impression, still proved far too strong for their opponents. WIT competed vigorously in the opening half but Cork unleashed a powerful display after the interval, reeling off eleven points, and a Chris O’Connor free was all that the third-level team could muster in reply.
The Rebels returned to the provincial pre-season fare after a hiatus last season with the aim of repeating the experimentation policy they adopted when claiming McGrath Cup silverware in 2008. Alan O’Connor, Patrick Kelly and Fintan Goold successfully used the competition two years ago as a springboard to come into the frame for summer action. Yesterday, a new bunch of players were handed auditions and a few stuck up their hands to merit further examination.
Half-back Denis O’Sullivan showed plenty of energy while Richard O’Sullivan alongside him was composed in directing a constant flow of possession towards his attackers. Eoin Keane deservedly got a run after hugely impressive club form with St Finbarr’s and maintained those standards with ease. In attack, David Goold and Jason Sexton featured heavily as they regularly inked their names on the score sheet, and Aghada’s Tom O’Neill illustrated that football prowess is not just the preserve of his brother Pearse with a fine display at wing-forward.
The chance to stake a claim going forward was not just restricted to the starting fifteen. Cork used their full complement of substitutes and Gabriel Rangers’ Mark Cronin produced an eye-catching cameo during his 17 minutes of action in the second half. The corner-forward signed off with four points to his name and a pair of those were stylish efforts from out on the left wing.
Selector Terry O’Neill took the managerial reins for the day and was ultimately pleased with the workout.
“We’re happy enough,” he said. “Once we got our rhythm going after the first 15 or 20 minutes, we kicked some very good scores and 19 points isn’t bad scoring for this time of year. We wouldn’t be fooled by the score line though - WIT would be more noted for hurling and Limerick next week will probably be playing a stronger team.
“In a game like this, you wouldn’t like to be picking out names but there was a few players who kicked some really sweet points. There’s no doubt these players will get another chance again. That was the purpose of entering the McGrath Cup.”
Cork dominated from the off and had surged 0-5 to 0-2 in front by the 15th minute with O’Neill, Goold and Sexton to the fore. Some faulty shooting cost them further points, while the alertness of WIT goalkeeper Brendan Redmond prevented any green flags being raised.
WIT grew into the game with Chris O’Connor and Colm Coss giving them a foothold around the middle and they registered a few points to retrieve the deficit to 0-6 to 0-4 before the break. However, a brace by Goold stretched Cork’s lead at the interval and in the second half, it was one-way traffic as they pinned WIT back to cruise to a comfortable success.
Scorers for Cork: D. Goold 0-5 (3 frees); M. Cronin 0-4; J. Sexton 0-3 (2 frees); T. O’Neill 0-2; E. Keane, K. McMahon, C. O’Driscoll, D. O’Donovan, A.J. O’Connor 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford IT: C. O’Connor (1 free), C. Coss (1 free), A. Brophy, E. Malone, J. O’Donnell 0-1 each.
CORK: D. Lordan; S. McLoughlin, B. Shanahan, I. Jones; D. O’Sullivan, R. O’Sullivan, A.J. O’Connor; A. O’Connor, E. Keane; T. O’Neill, K. McMahon, D. Goold; J. Sexton, C. Keane, C. O’Driscoll. Subs: D. O’Donovan for Keane (half-time), M. Mennis for McLoughlin (inj) (half-time), M. Cronin for Sexton (52), S. Nagle for A O’Connor (60), M Dilworth for O’Neill (65).
WATERFORD IT: B. Redmond (Wicklow); G. Hally (Tipperary), S. Prendergast (Waterford), S. Fox (Limerick); B. Rogers (Louth), R. Brady (Offaly), C. O’Connor (Meath); C. Coss (Laois), B. McGarr (Wicklow); P. Burke (Wicklow), A. Brophy (Waterford), E. Malone (Laois); C. McNally (Kildare), C. Doyle (Wicklow), J. O’Donnell (Kerry). Subs: N. Walsh (Waterford) for Fox (46), D. Doyle (Wexford) for McNally (63).
Referee: Brian Tyrell (Tipperary).