What happened in the meantime? It wasn’t as though there were any great personnel changes on either side. On paper, at least, Waterford were strengthened by the return of midfielder Shane O’Sullivan (suspension) and corner-back Shane Fives (injury) to their starting 15, while Cork this time went with Bill Cooper from the start, taking over from Cian McCarthy at centre-forward. But that was it, as far as personnel went.
So what was it? It was attitude, said Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy, no more, no less. “As we said during the week, we were very poor the last day, a lot of our players were unhappy with their performances. We got a draw and probably might not have deserved it but our comeback was positive, we built on that and showed better attitude all over the field, every one of our players.”
Where two weeks ago Cork had looked complacent, taking nearly 20 minutes before bothering to get into the serious action, on this occasion they were tuned in from the start. They didn’t blow Waterford away early but that wasn’t the issue and in fact it was the Déise again off to the better start, free-taker Pauric Mahony with the opening point after four minutes, and they were still ahead in the 13th minute (0-3 to 0-2). But Cork were in this game, challenging hard all over the field, up front especially which is where they most tend to switch off. Here, the half-forward trio of Seamus Harnedy, Bill Cooper and Conor Lehane were outstanding.
It was in the 14th minute really that it all began to come good for the Rebels. It started with a pointed free by Horgan (man-of-the-match yesterday, by some distance), tying the scores at 0-3 each.
From there to the break, it was Cork totally on top. They outscored Waterford 11 points to two, took a nine-point lead to the dressing room and really, ended this one as a contest.
It could have been even worse for Waterford. Twice in the 34th minute keeper Stephen O’Keeffe saved their bacon, first with a super save from Pa Cronin (dangerous on the edge of the square), then charging out to meet Anthony Nash’s subsequent penalty a la Patrick Kelly in last year’s All-Ireland final, almost blocking down the Kanturk man but taking the brunt of the shot with his body. Bill Cooper was on hand to blaze over the breaking ball but could it be now that teams have found a way to stop the Nash penalty?
Into the second half, and whatever hope the Waterford fans in the 22,093 attendance may have been harbouring of a comeback were soon banished, the outstanding Horgan and Lehane with a brace of points apiece, against a point each from the O’Sullivans Shane and Brian, extending Cork’s lead. On this day, first half or second, there would be no complacency.
Long before referee Johnny Ryan blew the final whistle it was over, and Jimmy Barry-Murphy could even afford the luxury of springing the full complement of five subs from the bench. All contributed but none more so than the man who got the loudest welcome of all, Paudie O’Sullivan, showing that he had lost none of his sharpness during the year-plus of recovery from a horrific leg-break, with two fine points from play.
For Waterford, it’s on to the bull-pit of the qualifiers; for Cork, this sets up a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland final and replay against high-flying Clare, back in Thurles next Sunday for the Munster semi-final. They can expect a far more serious test than they got yesterday.
Scorers for Cork: P Horgan 0-10 (5f); C Lehane 0-4; S Harnedy 0-3; B Cooper 0-3; D Kearney 0-2; P O’Sullivan 0-2; C Joyce, A Cadogan, S Moylan, R O’Shea, 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford: P Mahony 0-5 (3f, 0-1 65); A Gleeson 0-3; C Dunford 0-2; S Walsh, B O’Sullivan, S O’Sullivan, R Foley, 0-1 each.
Subs for Cork: S Moylan for Cadogan (59); B Lawton for Walsh (59); P O’Sullivan for Kearney (60); W Egan for McLoughlin (64); R O’Shea for Cooper (64).
Subs for Waterford: P Prendergast for Connors (inj. 5); R Foley for Nagle (41); M Shanahan for Dunford (inj. 45); S Molumphy for B O’Sullivan (47); S Prendergast for Dillon (51).
Cork: A Nash; S O’Neill, D Cahalane, S McDonnell; C Joyce, M Ellis, L McLoughlin; D Kearney, A Walsh; S Harnedy, B Cooper, C Lehane; A Cadogan, P Cronin (c), P Horgan. Waterford: S O’Keeffe; S Fives, L Lawlor, N Connors; J Nagle, K Moran, T Burke; S O’Sullivan, M Walsh (c); J Dillon, A Gleeson, Pauric Mahony; C Dunford, B O’Sullivan, S Walsh.
Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary)