Barron casts a spell as Waterford move closer to ending barren spell
Déise delight with win over Cork tempered by disciplinary issues
Waterford’s Jamie Barron scores their fourth goal of the game past Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash during the All-Ireland SHC semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Waterford 4-19 Cork 0-20
A hell of a day for Waterford, tinged though it will be with regrets. They’re through to an All-Ireland final against Galway and the prospect of a first All-Ireland in 58 years will keep the county sizzling with energy for the next three weeks. But a straight red for Conor Gleeson near the end will deprive them of one all-energy midfielder and it seems certain that the CCCC will have their say on Austin Gleeson after a first-half helmet grab on Luke Meade.
It will be cruel if they miss the final since they were so deeply involved in the winning of this one. The latter Gleeson didn’t do much in the game other than win it when it was there to be won. A see-saw game saw Cork push into a two-point lead 12 minutes from the end when Gleeson dispossessed Colm Spillane over in the corner between the Hill and the Cusack Stand. A bullet crossfield ball to Jamie Barron put the midfielder away and his finish blew the game wide open.
Conor Gleeson followed up with his only point of the day before Austin pulled out a goal of unique genius. Collecting possession 40 metres out, he went on a dizzying run, pulling dummy handpasses and feints and switches to beat the band before a deft finish past Nash sent the place rocking. From there on, Waterford kicked for home.
It was typical of the game as a whole that Austin Gleeson would intervene having not really been seen up to then. In games like this, you have to do your bit in flashes. The play was squeezed so tight, you half expected the backroom lads to come on with oxygen masks instead of bottles of water. Long stretches of the game went by without the headline players on either side finding themselves involved. When the ball came your way, it was perform or disappear.
Derek McGrath’s side played like they wanted to set a few things straight. Cork had played Waterford already this summer, of course. But they hadn’t played this Waterford. They hadn’t faced the Waterford that scramble your senses and frazzle your wits. Mark Coleman was gliding through the summer of his young life and then Waterford put Brick Walsh on him. Welcome to the jungle.
Brick made a heroic nuisance of himself for as long as he could keep going. He’s a full 15 years older than Coleman and he put every minute of it to full effect here. He stole in off the back of the young Cork wing back to latch onto Shane Bennett’s crossfield ball and banged home the opening goal. If there wasn’t a more unlikely first goalscorer on the pitch, it was still only the beginning of his influence on the afternoon.
Kevin Moran had three points on the board inside the opening 20 minutes, the first of them a brilliant score on the run, the second a snipe from a tight angle after Brick did more spoiling under an Anthony Nash puck-out. Later in the first half, Pauric Mahony drew a full-length save from Nash, again after Walsh had made the hard yards on the edge of the exclusion zone. Of Waterford’s first-half 1-7, Walsh was involved in 1-3. Not bad going for the oldest man on the pitch.
Cork had their own talisman, though. For as long as this stayed a game, Patrick Horgan was close to unplayable in it. Finding space in the Waterford backline was always an unlikely proposition but Horgan managed it and his striking was pure all day. He finished with 12 points altogether, five of them from play.
The ballast of Walsh’s goal carried Waterford to a 1-7 to 0-9 half-time lead. Alan Cadogan had scored a majestic point from the corner flag but otherwise hadn’t been in the game. Pauric Mahony was icing his frees for Waterford but other than Moran and Walsh, their forwards struggled too.
And so it went. Point for point, most of the way home. Conor Lehane pucked three bad wides before nailing a settler on 42 minutes. Moran continued his scintillating day with a reply two minutes later. Horgan swished one over his shoulder after fastening onto a Mark Ellis crossfield ball. Darragh Fives – magnificent in the Tadhg De Búrca role – roared out of defence for one of his own soon after. The game was on a knife-edge.
The first crack in the dam came when Damien Cahalane saw a second yellow for a second hit on Austin Gleeson on 53 minutes. If there was minimal space for the Cork forward before, it was non-existent now. Even so, Cadogan managed to knife a point out of nothing and when Horgan landed a couple of rat-a-tat scores soon after, Cork were humming.
Enter Austin Gleeson. Waterford’s 2-2 in the space of five minutes drove all the fight out of the Cork bellies. They ran the bench and Maurice Shanahan and Brian O’Halloran ran what remained of Cork ragged. Barron got in for his second goal late on but it was a done deal by then.
Waterford advance to the final, then. But before the big day, a series of encounters with the disciplinary bodies. Never simple, is it?
WATERFORD: 1 Stephen O’Keeffe; 4 Noel Connors, 2 Shane Fives, 3 Barry Coughlan; 7 Philip Mahony, 9 Conor Gleeson (0-1), 18 Kieran Bennett; 8 Jamie Barron (2-1), 10 Kevin Moran (capt; 0-4); 6 Austin Gleeson (1-2), 11 Pauric Mahony (0-8, five frees), 14 Michael Walsh (1-0); 13 Shane Bennett, 12 Jake Dillon, 15 Darragh Fives (0-1).
Subs: 21 Maurice Shanahan (0-1) for Dillon (46 mins), 20 Brian O’Halloran (0-1) for Shane Bennett (55 mins), 19 Tommy Ryan for M Walsh (59 mins), 23 Colin Dunford for Pauric Mahony (69 mins), 22 Patrick Curran for Barron (72 mins).
CORK: 1 Anthony Nash; 2 Stephen McDonnell (capt), 3 Damian Cahalane, 4 Colm Spillane; 5 Christopher Joyce, 6 Mark Ellis, 7 Mark Coleman; 8 Bill Cooper, 9 Darragh Fitzgibbon (0-1, line ball); 15 Luke Meade, 11 Conor Lehane (0-2), 12 Shane Kingston (0-1); 13 Alan Cadogan (0-2), 10 Séamus Harnedy (0-1), 14 Patrick Horgan (0-12, seven frees).
Subs: 25 Michael Cahalane for Meade (half-time), 21 Daniel Kearney for Cooper (65 mins), 24 Luke O’Farrell (0-1) for Cadogan (65 mins)
Referee: James Owens (Wexford).