A terrific rivalry comes with some explosive scores. Michael Moynihan lists the goals, points, sideline cuts — and one shot that hit the bar — which punctuate Cork-Waterford clashes of the last 20 years.
1998: Sean O’Farrell goal, National League final
The narrative that grew up around Cork’s 1999 All-Ireland win was that it came out of nowhere. Not quite. Cork did win the previous year’s league final in a reasonable facsimile of a championship match — a fullish house in Thurles in summer weather, with Waterford in the opposite corner. Waterford were in the market for a national title themselves, but the game swung on an old-fashioned full-forward’s goal scored by Cork’s Sean O’Farrell. He didn’t have a lengthy career in red and white, but O’Farrell did his state some service by helping them to a crucial win in that Cork team’s development.
1999: Mickey O’Connell sideline cut, Munster championship semi-final
This Munster championship game was the start of Cork’s sprint to the All-Ireland title, and O’Connell embodied their season. Waterford, who’d made the All-Ireland semi-final the previous year and taken Clare to a replay in the Munster final, were favoured to overcome a team studded with debutants like O’Connell, who picked up the incumbent Hurler of the Year, Tony Browne, at midfield. O’Connell’s eight points were the foundation of Cork’s win, however, and at a time before Joe Canning, Noel McGrath, and Mark Coleman made it look easy, his sideline cut over the bar was the ultimate touch of class.
2002: Ken McGrath’s point, Munster championship semi-final
This game — on an unseasonably damp afternoon in Thurles — went down to the wire, with neither side able to get the upper hand as the clock wound down to 70 minutes. Waterford talisman Ken McGrath was injured for the game with a knock to the shoulder, but he came on as a last throw of the dice. His clubmate Brian Greene won a terrific ball and handpassed
to McGrath, who drove over the winner from close range, despite being barely able to lift his arm over his head that morning. It was the win that put Waterford in line for their emotional Munster final victory of that year against Tipperary.
2003: Joe Deane goal, Munster final
In the following year’s Munster final Waterford stayed on Cork’s tail all day, helped immensely by the small matter of John Mullane’s hat-trick of goals from play. If the De La Salle man hadn’t been in that form Cork would have had an easy win — as it was they needed Deane at his cleverest for the game-changing goal. Late on Cork substitute Mark Prendergast won a terrific ball on the left sideline and delivered quickly — and high — into the Cork full-forward line. Deane timed his intervention to perfection, winning the ball over Brian Greene and finishing calmly to the net: Cork never looked back.
2004: Paul Flynn free, Munster final
One of the greatest Munster finals of all time was lit up by one of the most dramatic scores of all time. Cork were
a man up for much of the second half following the red card issued to John Mullane soon after the break, and Waterford needed a boost to keep them in contention. Dan Shanahan won a free 40 metres from the Cork goal and Flynn stood over the ball — no huge run-up — but went for glory instead of taking the point on offer. The Ballygunner man dipped his shot under the Cork crossbar for the goal that silenced the Rebel support. It was the kind of outrageous feat associated with the Munster finals of yore, but enacted in the living colour of the 21st century.
2005: All-Ireland quarter-final, Brian Corcoran goal
This was a dour encounter in Croke Park, with neither side at their absolute best: Defences were on top in an oddly quiet venue.
It was Clinton Hennessy’s first season in the Waterford ‘keeper’s jersey, and he gave his side confidence with an assured display.
With the result up for grabs a Cork delivery heading out over the end line was knocked back into play by Joe Deane to fellow full-forward Brian Corcoran, who improvised a neat drop-shot to beat Clinton Hennessy. Coming with eight minutes to go, it was the decisive score.
2006: All-Ireland semi-final, Cathal Naughton goal
Unlike the previous year’s quarter-final, this was a hugely atmospheric game in a rocking Croke Park.
Evenly matched, neither Cork nor Waterford enjoyed lengthy periods of supremacy, and Cork management threw on unknown Cathal Naughton to test the Waterford backs in the last quarter.
With 12 minutes left Deane ghosted between two defenders to slip a handpass to Naughton, who finished coolly. Ken McGrath almost tied the game up with a late, late free, but Dónal Óg Cusack went over the crossbar to knock the ball away for a Cork win.
2007: (1) Munster championship semi-final, Shane Murphy hits bar
This was a game with a huge backstory — Cork were down three first-choice players because of the infamous Semplegate controversy and shipped five goals to an in-form Waterford attack, who exploited the inexperience in the Rebel defence.
Yet with the game in injury-time Cork were only three points down. Defender Shane Murphy had come on as a sub and popped up near the Waterford 20-metre line as Cork looked for an equaliser. Murphy cracked in a fine arcing shot which rattled the crossbar on 72 minutes, but the ball rebounded outfield and Waterford survived.
2007: (2) All-Ireland quarter-final replay, Dan Shanahan goals
Waterford needed a late 1-1 in the first game to earn another day out, but they made no mistake in this replay.
Dan Shanahan hit two goals in this game — he managed 8-12 in six championship games that summer and ended as Hurler of the Year — to get his side to All-Ireland semi-final. The pick of them? The shot across Dónal Óg Cusack to the bottom corner of the Hill 16 goal, Shanahan creating the chance with his trademark move, ghosting in on the blind side.
2010: (1) Munster final, Tony Browne
Another close game, another late intervention. This one came with Cork three points up and clinging on. Eoin Kelly went for goal from a last-gasp free but the Cork defenders turned it back: Cue Tony Browne flying in from the wing to pull first-time for the winner, just 18 years after captaining Waterford to the U21 All-Ireland title. The replay
was the following Saturday night under lights...
2010: (2) Munster final replay, Dan Shanahan
A wet evening in Semple Stadium eventually edged into extra time. Once more the two teams couldn’t be separated.
Cue the hero of 2007. With Waterford a point up in the first period of extra time, Dan Shanahan picked his line perfectly, slipping the Cork full-back line and — crucially — hitting his shot early to goal past Cusack into the Killinan End. A four-point lead was always going to be insurmountable for Cork: Another title for Waterford.
2014: Munster championship semi-final: Austin Gleeson goal
Waterford won the 2013 All-Ireland minor title and Gleeson was one of the first players promoted from that crop of players.
Though he trailed a considerable underage reputation, he still produced a stunning goal to announce himself as a senior star, picking up a loose Cork sideline cut to meander over 60 metres through the Rebel defence before cracking home a goal.
Gleeson was Young Hurler and Hurler of the Year within two years of that superb goal.
2015: Munster championship semi-final, Maurice Shanahan goal
After the brother... Maurice Shanahan got the vital first goal in this championship encounter, winning his own ball and drifting cross-field before finding the net from inside the 20-metre line.
It was the score that heralded the dawning of a period of supremacy for Waterford in the rivalry with Cork. How will tomorrow fit into that narrative?
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