All Ireland SHC Semi-Final
A rip-roaring four minute period in the second half bolstered Waterford to an All-Ireland final berth, after they saw off the Rebels in Croke Park, securing an 11-point victory.
Cork managed to give themselves a two-point cushion after losing Damien Calahane in the 51st minute, but Waterford didn’t take long in exploiting their one-man advantage, as they yielded 2-2 in a glorious streak of play to push them on.
As Patrick Horgan launched a spectacular point in the 58th minute Cork went 0-18 to 1-13 ahead. But Derek McGrath’s charges dug their heels in and Hurler of the Year Austin Glesson proved his worth as he made a wonderful, pinpoint assist to Jamie Barron for the Deise’s second goal of the game, before Conor Gleeson immediately added a point.
But another piece of individual brilliance from Austin Gleeson saw him rattle Anthony Nash’s net almost straight away afterwards, before Pauric Mahony signed off the 2-2 without reply from a pointed free to set Waterford on their way.
Late on Cork’s Patrick Horgan and Conor Gleeson were dismissed before Barron nailed a fourth Waterford goal.
The match’s climax was completely different from the tight, tense, and tactical earlier stages of the game, where the sides were level on no less than ten occasions, with the sides completely evenly matched across the field.
A couple of gorgeous Patrick Horgan points arrived either side of a Pauric Mahony effort as the game commenced at a blistering speed. Waterford pounced for a fourth minute goal when Shane Barrett’s pass located Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh, who had sufficient guile to rattle the Cork net.
Despite the concession, Cork hung on in there with Horgan all clever touches inside as the Glen Rovers clubman struck seven first half points, including three from play.
At the opposite end, though, Kevin Moran rifled over three for Waterford, who went in at the break armed with a slender 1-7 to 0-9 advantage. It was keenly contested on the pitch and sideline, but the issue remained delicately poised as Cork and Waterford returned for the second period.
That is how it stayed in the third quarter, but Cork suffered a significant setback in the 51st minute when Cahalane was sent off for a second bookable offence following a foul on Conor Gleeson.
At that stage Cork were 0- 15 to 1-11 to the good, but Waterford were beginning to stir. Pauric Mahony and Austin Gleeson rifled points, but Cork came thundering back.
Three fine points on the spin from Alan Cadogan and Horgan (2) had Cork in front, but then Waterford administered the decisive blows.
Barron (58) and Austin Gleeson (59) bagged the goals as the travelling Deise faithful celebrated furiously.
There was no way back for Cork. Horgan and Conor Gleeson were red carded with two minutes left on the clock.
The last grace note was supplied by the energetic Barron, who thumped a fourth Waterford goal. It merely embellished a stirring Waterford win. Next month’s decider against Galway won’t be short on drama or intrigue either.
Scorers for Waterford: Pauric Mahony 0-8 (6fs), Jamie Barron 2-1, Austin Gleeson 1- 2, Kevin Moran 0-4, Michael Walsh 1-0, Darragh Fives, Brian O’Halloran, Conor Gleeson, and Maurice Shanahan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cork: Patrick Horgan 0-12 (7fs), Alan Cadogan and Conor Lehane 0-2 each, Shane Kingston, Luke O’Farrell, Seamus Harnedy, Darragh Fitzgibbon (sideline) 0- 1 each.
WATERFORD: Stephen O’Keeffe; Shane Fives, Barry Coughlan, Noel Connors; Kieran Bennett, Philip Mahony, Conor Gleeson; Jamie Barron, Kevin Moran; Michael Walsh, Pauric Mahony, Austin Gleeson; Shane Bennett, Jake Dillon, Darragh Fives. Subs: Maurice Shanahan for Jake Dillon (46), Brian O’Halloran for Shane Bennett (55), Tommy Ryan for Michael Walsh (59), Colin Dunford for Pauric Mahony (69), Patrick Curran for Jamie Barron (70).
CORK: Anthony Nash; Stephen McDonnell, Damien Cahalane, Colm Spillane; Christopher Joyce, Mark Ellis, Mark Coleman; Bill Cooper, Darragh Fitzgibbon; Seamus Harnedy, Conor Lehane, Shane Kingston; Alan Cadogan, Patrick Horgan, Luke Meade. Subs: Michael Cahalane for Luke Meade (HT), Daniel Kearney for Bill Cooper (65), Luke O’Farrell for Alan Cadogan (65).