THREE days after the county senior side had departed Páirc Uí Chaoimh with an emphatic championship victory, Cork’s U21 outfit replicated that effort at the same venue in last night’s Bord Gáis Energy Munster U21HC quarter-final against Waterford.
Cork may have had endured a barren 12 years nationally in this grade but they began their 2010 exertions with a hugely commanding display as they bossed this encounter from start to finish.
Cork suffered the late withdrawal of wing-forward Aidan Walsh before throw-in, seemingly with an eye to his involvement in next Sunday’s Munster SFC quarter-final in Killarney, but his absence did not appreciably weaken the team. Backboned by an outstanding defence that leaked few scores to the Waterford attack, Cork moved with plenty of authority.
But for massive wastefulness in front of goal in the first-half when they totted up 12 wides, their interval lead of 0-7 to 0-1 would have been notably extended. Yet the poverty of Waterford’s display meant Cork were never forced to rue that profligacy.
The only dark note on Cork’s night was the dismissal of centre-forward Cian McCarthy in the 35th minute when he was given his marching orders by Declan O’Driscoll, along with Waterford midfielder Owen Whelan after the pair became entangled in an off-the-ball incident. Those two reds were complemented by seven yellow cards shown in the first-half, but the high card count was strange considering it was not an intensely spiteful clash due to Cork’s undoubted superiority.
Waterford struck the first blow on the scoreboard when Shanahan hammered over a sixth-minute free yet alarmingly from their viewpoint that transpired to be their solitary score of the half. They struggled to pierce the defensive shutter Cork had erected in their half-back line and when they did direct matters towards the Cork goal, they found their opponents possessed resolute operators there too. Eoin Keane produced a determined outing at full-back and when called upon in the 15th minute goalkeeper Darren McCarthy was adept in thwarting a blinding drive by Thomas Ryan.
By the 13th minute Cork had a 0-3 to 0-1 advantage with Cian McCarthy making an early impression on centre-forward that was backed up by a scoring salvo of two points. As the half progressed Cork’s shooting showed gradual signs of improvement with Newtownshandrum’s Ryan Clifford attuning his radar most successfully. His positional awareness was excellent in creating the space to flight over three late points before the break, including one memorable effort from out on the right touchline.
The dismissal of McCarthy early in the second-half failed to perturb Cork as they continued to pour forward. Impressive midfielder Seamus O’Farrell strode forward for a pair of expertly-taken points and the names of Michael Bowles and Mark Collins were soon inked on the scoresheet as well. Shane Kearney registered a fine point for Waterford in the 38th minute but the fact that it transpired to be their only effort from play all night was illuminating. By the 47th minute Cork were ahead by 0-12 to 0-3.
Waterford defenders Shane Kearney, Noel Connors and Phillip Mahony tried manfully to keep Cork at bay but the constant waves of attacks broke them down. In the 62nd minute Cork finally managed to get in for the goal their efforts deserved. A superb flowing team move constructed the opening with an overlap created by Daniel Kearney and Luke O’Farrell, creating the chance for sub Michael O’Sullivan to bang the ball to the net. There was still time for Waterford to grab a goal of their own with a tremendous shot to the top corner by Brian O’Sullivan in the 63rd minute, but that was not going to stop Cork advancing to a last four meeting with Tipperary.
Scorers for Cork: R Clifford 0-6 (0-3f), M O’Sullivan 1-0, C McCarthy (0-1f), S O’Farrell, L O’Farrell 0-2 each, M Bowles, M Collins, J Nagle, P Gould 0-1 each
Waterford: B O’Sullivan 1-0, M Shanahan 0-2 (0-2f), S Kearney (Ballyduff Upper) 0-1.
CORK: D McCarthy; S McDonnell, E Keane, C O’Sullivan; J Nagle, W Egan, L McLoughlin; D Kearney, S O’Farrell; M Collins, C McCarthy, M Bowles; L O’Farrell, T Murphy, R Clifford.
Subs: P Gould for Murphy (43), R White for Collins (46), M O’Sullivan for Bowles (55), G O’Connor for Nagle (57), F Keane for Clifford (60).
WATERFORD: S O’Keeffe; N Connors, B Coughlan, S Kearney (Dungarvan); J Prendergast, P O’Mahony, S Daniels; S Fives, O Whelan; R Fenton, M Shanahan, S Kearney (Ballyduff Upper); B O’Sullivan , S Aherne, T Ryan.
Subs: A Connors for Fenton (half-time), P Prendergast for Daniels (47), P Donovan for Ryan (inj) (50), S Power for Aherne (52).
Referee: D O’Driscoll (Limerick)
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