Rebels profit from late splurge
Cork 1-19 Waterford 0-19:STILL LOVE and marriage, this pair. Still horse, still carriage. It might not have been soundtracked by quite the level of percussion of Cork and Waterford encounters in the last decade but this All-Ireland quarter-final held a tune right to the end all the same.
They clung to each other throughout, their grip only loosened by a late spending spree from Cork that bought seven of the last eight points. In a game that saw the sides level eight times, that sort of burst over the closing 10 minutes tends to turn doubt into decision.
Ultimately, it was tough on Waterford. When the PA announcer informed the masses with a minute to go that there would be no extra-time in the event of a draw (a necessary intervention, since the match programme said otherwise), Maurice Shanahan was standing over a long-range free that reduced Cork’s lead to just a point.
Had we all been asked to sit through another afternoon, we’d have lived with it without much grumble. Indeed, there had been a point a few minutes earlier when the prospect of a draw would have delighted Cork. The what-if moment that will stay with Waterford came on 62 minutes when a silver-platter ball aimed at Eoin McGrath eluded his grasp right in front of the Cork goal.
Waterford had just reeled off five of the previous seven points and were getting their groove on with every attack. Had McGrath collected, he was one-on-one knowing a goal would put them five ahead. But the catch was spilled and the moment evaporated. For want of a nail, the war was lost.
“We were three points down in the 60th minute and it didn’t look great for us,” said Jimmy Barry-Murphy afterwards. “And I didn’t think we played particularly well at times. We started pretty well but went out of the game for long periods.”
The game had indeed begun with a thunderclap, Cork pinging the Waterford woodwork twice inside the opening 20 seconds. First Luke O’Farrell speared one off the crossbar and with Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe only picking himself off the floor, Niall McCarthy’s diving follow-up caught the wrong side of O’Keeffe’s near post.
It hinted at a breathless opening that didn’t quite deliver, the sides swapping just a point and a free each to make it 0-2 apiece on 10 minutes. Cork were able to open their shoulders more readily from there though and some of their snappy stick-passing picked the Waterford lock quite easily.
Cian McCarthy put them ahead unopposed and O’Farrell’s clever flick inside on 13 minutes switched the play and sent Pa Cronin through for a smart score. When Jamie Coughlan took advantage of Niall McCarthy’s foraging soon after, it put them three ahead and Waterford needed to stop the bleeding.
Instead, Cork turned a paper cut into a gusher. Paudie O’Sullivan found Coughlan with a sweet pass and his finish gave them a six-point lead. They were reasonable value for it as well, with Daniel Kearney and Cronin forcing the issue around the middle of the field and O’Farrell always dangerous inside. Waterford held on with a couple of frees but it wasn’t until they brought John Mullane out to half-forward that they got any traction.