Cork 1-21 Waterford 1-21
Cork and Waterford have provided hurling supporters with a highlights reel all of their own over the years and produced another one for the annals before having to settle for a replay in Semple Stadium on June 8.
It took until the final quarter for the game to really take off but that was only because Waterford were so dominant until hugely influential Cork substitute, Bill Cooper goaled in the 48th minute.
Patrick Horgan showed tremendous leadership in that final quarter, while Alan Cadogan, Christopher Joyce, Stephen McDonnell and Mark Ellis were also outstanding.
They never led though and Waterford defied all the pre-match predictions to give last year’s All-Ireland finalists the fright of their lives.
It looked all over when Austin Gleeson scored a 44th minute goal that will be hard to better this year and when Shane Walsh and Pauric Mahony added points, it was 1-17 to 0-11.
Cooper’s goal changed the momentum completely though but Waterford showed plenty of character not to be overhauled in the closing minutes.
The consensus beforehand was that it would be men against boys and if that was the case, it was the pace, energy and fearlessness of youth that held sway over the startlingly limp, leggy and nervous-looking favourites.
Waterford belied all the pre-match doom and gloom surrounding their callowness and thundered into proceedings. They hunted in twos and threes, forcing Cork into numerous turnovers.
The Rebels looked like a team that had spent the spring playing a lower, slower level of hurling as they dithered on the ball and their touch was very untypically poor.
By contrast, Waterford were operating at a higher gear and playing tremendously smart hurling.
From the time Pauric Mahony converted a free from inside his own half with the aid of a strong wind after just 45 seconds for the first of his 11 points, Derek McGrath’s tyros were flying.
They got a great return from diagonal balls into the corners, something they were able to do regularly given the total failure of Cork’s half-forward line to win any possession.
Three defenders – Tadhg Burke, Jamie Nagle and Barry Coughlan - were able to get on the scoresheet, such was the absence of a challenge from their counterparts.
The one exception for Jimmy Barry-Murphy was debutant Alan Cadogan. It was a performance redolent of his display in the All-Ireland U21 football semi-final, when he was sensational, despite living off scraps.
In this outing, he scored four points from play and was fouled for four of Patrick Horgan’s 12 points.
He also was clearly pushed in the back in the dying moments of the game but referee Brian Gavin waved play-on and Waterford’s warhorse, Seamus Prendergast pointed to give his side the lead in injury time.
A late tackle on Anthony Nash gave Horgan an easy equalising opportunity from the next play though to spare the official’s blushes.
It would have been very harsh on Waterford had they lost though, as they were magnificent, with Mahony, Gleeson, Jake Dillon, Brian O’Sullivan, Jamie Nagle, Noel Connors and Stephen O’Keeffe all giving fantastic performances.
Cadogan had two first-half points and Aidan Walsh landed a brilliant sideline but Waterford were full value for a 0-13 to 0-7 half-time lead, particularly when you consider that they had seven more wides than Cork.
Cork resumed in better fashion and points from Horgan, Lehane and Cadogan helped reduce the margin to four.
That was until Gleeson picked up the sliotar under the Old Stand 45m out and turned off the after-burners. With five defenders converging on him, he made it to the 13 and made little of the angle to unleash a thunderbolt off the stick to the far corner of the net.
Walsh and Mahony added their points and Cork looked completely done and dusted.
Critically though, they got that goal, with Cooper nudging home from close range following a frantic scramble that came after Stephen O’Keeffe’s brilliant save from Horgan.
Cooper was becoming heavily involved and his run and pass to Cadogan led to another great stop by O’Keeffe. Horgan converted the 65 though to start a run of four consecutive points to leave one between them.
It was frantic at the end and Shane O’Neill – who hadn’t his best day at the office – made a vital interception to deny Waterford a likely goal.
In the end, no-one was really complaining about the draw.
SCORERS FOR CORK: P Horgan 0-12(8fs, 1 65); A Cadogan 0-4; B Cooper 1-1; A Walsh 0-2(1 sideline); S Harnedy, C Lehane 0-1 each
SCORERS FOR WATERFORD: P Mahony 0-11(9fs); A Gleeson 1-2 (0-1 sideline); B O’Sullivan 0-2; T Burke, J Nagle, B Coughlan, S Walsh, J Dillon, S Prendergast 0-1 each
CORK: A Nash; S O’Neill, D Cahalane, S McDonnell; C Joyce, M Ellis, L McLoughlin; D Kearney, A Walsh; C Lehane, C McCarthy, P Cronin; A Cadogan, S Harnedy, P Horgan. Subs: B Cooper for McCarthy (ht). Subs: B Cooper for McCarthy (ht), B Lawton for Kearney (50), S Moylan for Cronin (53), J Coughlan for Harnedy (65)
WATERFORD: S O’Keeffe; T Burke, L Lawlor, N Connors; J Nagle, M Walsh, B Coughlan; K Moran, E Barrett; C Dunford, P O’Mahony, A Gleeson; B O’Sullivan, S Walsh, J Dillon. Subs: R Foley for Barrett inj (22); S Fives for Coughlan (42), R Barry for Dunford (47), D Breathnach for Dillon (53), S Prendergast for Walsh (54)
REFEREE: B Gavin (Offaly)