'The frees we conceded were very poor': Cork boss Kingston hopes to fix 'controllables' after defeat

The recovery powers of Waterford’s youth were too much for a typically vapid League performance by Cork in Walsh Park today.

'The frees we conceded were very poor': Cork boss Kingston hopes to fix 'controllables' after defeat


The recovery powers of Waterford’s youth were too much for a typically vapid League performance by Cork in Walsh Park today.

Having absorbed the nightmarish start of conceding two goals inside the first three minutes, Waterford, guided by the Bennett brothers Stephen and Kieran, were the better team for much of this game, although they were hanging on for their full complement of points at the end.

Shane Kingston, a rare positive in Cork’s attack, will be forgiven for his stray shot considering it was his second goal that almost propelled the visitors to what would have been an undeserving point.

Waterford, expected by most to be beaten, warmed to the gauntlet presented to them and were ahead by the 14th minute. And by the 65th minute, there was more than one score between them and Cork for the first time.

Cork’s 17 wides might tell a tale of spurned opportunities but so many of them were headless attempts that can’t be pointed to as a source of optimism.

“Scoring 3-17 was great but our conversion rate, just looking at some stuff, was very poor, compared to them,” acknowledged Kieran Kingston. “You can make excuses for the time of the year or whatever. But the bottom line is we’d expect to be getting those.

“The frees we conceded were very poor. They’re controllables, they’re things we can work on. It’s good this time of year to realise that.” Solace can’t be found in those two early goals either, which seemed to expose the nervousness in the novice Waterford back-line more than anything else. Although Kingston begged to differ. “We targeted getting at them early, got two (goals), got three overall and on another day we could have got five.

“That’s something that this team has been criticised for over the last number of years, not getting enough goals so it’s something we are working on and it was great. But today is only one day, we did create some chances, that was one of the most positive things from it.”

Kingston had another goal chance in the 27th minute but his ground stroke effort slipped wide. Soon after Conor Gleeson was hauled off to be replaced by Shane Fives and the Waterford rearguard regained their composure, Calum Lyons and Iarlaith Daly impressing on the wings. It was Lyons’ purposeful run which teed up Patrick Curran for a 12th-minute goal.

Cahill wasn’t getting carried away by how his greenhorn defence performed against an experienced Cork attack. “That Cork forward line has a lot of pace — and I know today wouldn’t really have been conducive to real pacy forwards, although the pitch is in excellent condition. But it is winter hurling and there were a couple of opportunities that Cork got and on a dry day they’d probably have hurt you. We’re around long enough — well, I am — to know that there’s a lot of areas to work on.”

That blistering start for Cork, punctuated by Conor Lehane’s goal inside the opening minute and Kingston’s in the third after he had created the early score for Lehane, wasn’t exactly the worst thing that could have happened for Waterford.

“Two sucker punches really early in the match,” recounted Cahill. “What a time to give them away — early. That was a real test of the character of the boys to come back, keep the scoreboard ticking over. Keep their heads. Them challenges are great to get this time of the year.

“Who is to say that in three or four months’ time in the first round of the Munster championship that you mightn’t be in the same position. You’d hope not to be but if you are, it’s great to know you can work your way out of it.”

Leading 1-13 to 2-8 at the break was a resounding turnaround for Waterford who through the Bennett brothers and Jack Fagan were punishing Cork’s sloppiness. The home team weren’t all that sharp either, Stephen Bennett missing nine chances while converting 11, but their effort was greater.

“It was important to start with a performance, that was key,” Cahill reviewed, nodding to the last two painful summers. “These fellas have to build up their identity again. I won’t say win back the support — the support was great today (4,235 attendance), don’t get me wrong nd there is a real gesture of goodwill around the county. But they need to start putting a bit of identity to what they are about, as players, as a team, as a squad. I think they started reasonably well today to show that bit of change that everybody is looking for.”

As Kingston’s predecessor John Meyler reminded us more than once during his two-year tenure, Cork are a different animal when the clocks go forward. However, work-rate translates to any season and here it was lacking as it was in the recent Munster League final defeat to Limerick.

Worrying? Not at this time of year but this is not something we haven’t seen before. The pluses were Robert Downey’s detailing of Dessie Hutchinson, Damien Cahalane’s point-taking and the consistent danger presented by Kingston. But All-Ireland champions Tipperary are next up and the depth of the Cork panel will be tested by midweek Fitzgibbon activity.

“There’s no easy games in this. Every team on a given day can beat the other. Even home advantage sometimes you wonder is it good or bad. Certainly there’s no easy games in the division.

“Alan Cadogan could play a part next week, Colm Spilane might play a part, they’ll be assessed at training on Tuesday night, Eoin (Cadogan) should be available for selection. But some fellas will play three games in six days, that’s quite a lot, especially at this time of year in these conditions.”

Scorers for Waterford: S. Bennett (0-11, 7 frees, 1 65); P. Curran (1-3); K. Bennett (0-5, 1 sideline); J. Fagan (0-2, 1 sideline); J. Prendergast, I. Daly, M. Kearney (0-1 each).

Scorers for Cork: S. Kingston (2-2); P. Horgan (0-6, frees); C. Lehane (1-0); D. Cahalane (0-3); S. Harnedy, M. Coleman, D. Fitzgibbon (0-2 each).

WATERFORD: S. O’Keeffe; C. Gleeson, C. Prunty (c), S. McNulty; I. Daly, D. Fives, C. Lyons; K. Bennett, J. Dillon; J. Fagan, J. Prendergast, N. Montgomery; D. Hutchinson, S. Bennett, P. Curran.

Subs for Waterford: K. Power for C. Lyons (blood, 19-22); S. Fives for C. Gleeson (30); M. Kearney for J. Dillon (50); P. Hogan for D. Hutchinson (54); D. Lyons for N. Montgomery (59); T. Barron for J. Fagan (62).

CORK: A. Nash; R. Downey, N. O’Leary, S. O’Donoghue; C. O’Leary, T. O’Mahony, D. Cahalane; B. Cooper, M. Coleman; A. Walsh, D. Fitzgibbon, S. Harnedy; C. Lehane, S. Kingston, P. Horgan (c).

Subs for Cork: L. Meade for A. Walsh (50); S. O’Leary-Hayes for N. O’Leary (55); S. Twomey for C. Lehane (60); R. O’Flynn for S. Harnedy (69).

Referee: J. Keenan (Wicklow).



Shane Kingston’s late shot tailing wide did have an impact but generally speaking Waterford worked harder and smarter than their more seasoned opposition.


Cork struck a total of 17 wides but then Waterford failed to convert 11 other scoring opportunities. The lack of thought put into Cork’s shooting can only but frustrate management.


Liam Cahill will have been thrilled that so many young players showed their mettle here at a venue Waterford must make a fortress this summer if they are to be the surprise package of the Munster SHC.


Other than Shane Kingston, it was a poor day at the office for the Cork forwards. Initially, it appeared they would exploit Waterford’s inexperience but it was shortlived.


Liam Cahill confirmed Austin Gleeson has suffered a quad injury but should only miss one more League game. Although he warmed up at one stage, Alan Cadogan should come into the reckoning for Cork next weekend.


Kieran Kingston shuffled his deck with Mark Coleman and Darragh Fitzgibbon moving closer to goal but neither truly worked although Robert Downey’s move to the full-back line worked well.


Stephen Bennett may have missed almost as much as he scored but he was Waterford’s leader. His brother Kieran showed well too and there were positive displays from debutants like Jack Fagan and Iarlaith Daly.


John Keenan could have blown more than he did and his ignorance of the first-half melee close to the sideline was bizarre. Overall, though, the game was in his control.


Cork and Tipperary will face off in Páirc Uí Chaoimh this Saturday hoping to get their first points on the board. Waterford travel to Mullingar the following day.

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