Cork make sure at the second attempt

 

Cork 3-17 Wexford 2-7

Cork booked their place in the All-Ireland hurling final with a convincing 3-17 to 2-7 victory over Wexford at Croke Park this afternoon.

Cork's mercurial second half display in today's semi-final replay was the telling difference as they restricted their opponents to just three points during that period.

The Rebel County ruthlessly set about extending their four point half-time lead (2-07 to 2-03) in the second period with Diarmuid O'Sullivan and Sean Og O'Hailpin shoring up the defence with authority and the half forward line running amok with relentless movement and vision.

There were early signs that the replay would live up to the frenetic pace of last weekend's draw. After John Gardner and Niall McCarthy had given Cork an early two point lead, Wexford's Mitch Jordan pounced on some uncertainty in the Cork defence and cheekily flicked the sliotar past Donal O'Cusack in the Cork net for the opening goal of the game.

Cork wasted little time in biting back, and were it not for a fine save from Damian Fitzhenry to deny Alan Browne a goal, Wexford's advantage would have lasted all of two minutes.

As it was, Gardner added his second of the day moments later from a 65 to level the scores.

Both took a point apiece in the following skirmishes then Cork looked rocked by a second Wexford goal from Larry Murphy.

A long puck out from Fitzhenry was met by more shaky Cork defending, and as the ball broke loose about 20 yards out, it was hit first time by Murphy who's shot was too hard for O'Cusack to stop. The sliotar spun off his hurl over his head and into the net.

Unfazed Cork stuck to their game plan and were back in the game when Alan Browne struck low, through a forest of legs, and across the goal past Fitzhenry.

A Setanta O'Hailpin point then brought Cork back into the lead before points were traded with Paul Codd and Ben O'Connor finding their range.

The goal count was brought level soon afterwards when Tim McCarthy latched onto an Alan Browne hand pass after dogged play from Joe Deane and co out on the wing.

Cork were unlucky not to have scored a third goal when a Sean Og O'Hailpin found his brother Setanta with a searching ball down the line. Setanta rode three challenges from the panicking Wexford defence before firing the ball low and hard across the face of the goal and agonisingly past the far post.

The Leesiders were quickly into their stride in the second half and despite two early points from Mitch Jordan, Cork soon established their dominance.

The point of the half came from a Ben O'Connor strike from out on the touchline moments before the game was put beyond all real doubt. Setanta O'Hailpin's hand pass allowed Deane to check his stride and fire past Fitzhenry from close range.

Deane scored two more for Cork as Wexford were found chasing shadows towards the end of the game. The first attempt on Sunday clearly took it's toll on the older members of the Wexford side.