Both sides should be commended for attempting to play a game on a most uncooperative surface, while questions need to be asked why referee Alan Kelly put them in such a position.
The decision to allow this game to take place on a virtually unplayable Fraher Field pitch made fools of the hurlers’ honest endeavours.
Yesterday’s game was a circus of calamities, a comedy of errors. The most basic of skills such as the pick-up and solo became onerous chores. We also had fresh airs, dangerous slips and ferociously struck pucks barely registering 10 yards in one half and exceeding 100 in the other.
The draw was the fairest result for the wrong reasons. That each team left Dungarvan with something was more a gesture of sympathy than anything else.
Cork, on one hand, can rue their failure to protect a two-point lead with three minutes of normal time left. Having been eight behind at the break largely due to the icy, easterly gale they faced in the first half, it was a perfectly-timed turnaround.
Waterford, via Brian O’Sullivan and Seamus Prendergast, cancelled that deficit but then could have won the game seconds prior to Prendergast’s equaliser, only for a series of superb Anthony Nash saves.
It was no surprise both management teams had mixed emotions afterwards.
“Overall, a draw was probably a fair result, considering their first half and our second half,” acknowledged Cork selector Kieran Kingston. “They only scored five points in the second half and we went two points up.
“To draw when we had the lead is probably disappointing but I understand we could have lost it.”
Michael Ryan chimed similar sentiments and praised his players’ resolve for recovering to secure the point.
“I’m almost disappointed because we could have won the game but having said that we were two points behind against a Cork team who were on the rise and we were playing against a strong wind.
“I thought we put up a fantastic finish and fully deserved a draw.”
Having won the toss, Waterford elected to play with the wind and built up a four-point lead, 0-5 to 0-1, by the 15th minute.
Little ball was sticking in the Cork forward line and all they could muster by the interval was two points, a third minute score from Cian McCarthy and a 17th minute free by Patrick Horgan.
Following on from their fine performances against Clare, Brian O’Halloran and Brian O’Sullivan caused the Cork defence almost as much nuisance as the weather in the opening half.
Prendergast was finding his range too and pointed his second in the 26th minute to push Waterford six ahead.
A Pauric Mahony free, which was awarded after a dubious yellow card for Patrick Cronin, and a mammoth Stephen O’Keeffe placed ball just before the break gave Waterford a handsome 0-10 to 0-2 lead at the interval.
Waterford, though, had amassed seven wides and Kingston wasn’t too perturbed by the size of the margin facing his charges.
“We were disappointed, we thought we would be closer but with the wind that was there the game wasn’t over. We did think we still had a good chance and the timing of the goal was great.”
Stephen Moylan’s ground strike one minute into the second half was a sweet one after Horgan had airmailed a ball towards O’Keeffe’s goal.
Moylan added a point in an unanswered run of four by Cork in three minutes to close the gap to two by the 42nd minute.
A minute later, a silly Conor O’Sullivan mistake handed Mahony an easy free and then Brian O’Sullivan pointed his second of the game.
For the next 15 minutes, though, it was all Cork as Conor Lehane began to make an impact and Horgan’s accuracy from frees and a 65 eventually levelled the game in the 64th minute.
Lehane put Cork ahead for the first time in the 66th minute, a point followed by another from Kildorrery’s Peter O’Brien, on his debut.
However, by the final whistle it was they who were hanging on after Nash had to be at his best to deny Prendergast and a follow-up shot which, had either gone in, would have surely won the game.
Prendergast got some consolation with his equaliser but it’s both teams that go into next weekend’s round three with unbeaten records. Although they won’t be talking about this game any time soon.
Scorers for Waterford: P Mahony 0-5 (frees); S Prendergast, B O’Sullivan 0-3 each; B O’Halloran 0-2; S O’Sullivan, S O’Keeffe (free) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cork: P Horgan 0-7 (5f, 1 65); S Moylan 1-1; C Lehane 0-2; C McCarthy, P O’Brien 0-1 each.
Subs for Waterford: P Prendergast for D Fives (inj 26); J Barron for S Walsh (40); M Shanahan for O’Halloran (62); R Barry for B O’Sullivan (68).
Subs for Cork: C Lehane for Harnedy (49); W Egan for McDonnell (54); T Kenny for McLoughlin (62); L O’Farrell for P O’Sullivan (66).
Referee: A Kelly (Galway)