Cork lead from start to finish to relegate Waterford
Waterford, down a number of key players, not helped by Maurice Shanahan’s red card
Waterford’s Tadhg de Burca under pressure from Patrick Horgan of Cork. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Cork 0-21 Waterford 1-13
Cork led all through as they ensured their Division 1A survival with victory over Waterford at Páirc Uí Rinn.
Having seen a five-point lead whittled down to two as Waterford came back strongly - despite the sending-off of substitute Maurice Shanahan - Cork kept their heads and pulled away again to preserve their status.
With four defeats having followed their opening-day win over Kilkenny, Cork coach John Meyler was pleased to now be going into the championship on the back of a win.
“The win today gives us impetus,” he said, “there’s a feel good factor there.
“We’re in the same situation as what we were this time last year, we played six last year and we played six this year. Please God now, we’ll get Damien Cahalane and Mark Ellis back into the side and get them up and running.”
Cork had the game’s first five points, through Fitzgibbon, Mike Cahalane, Dean Brosnan, Cooper and Alan Cadogan, though Waterford had been denied an early Patrick Curran goal due to a square ball.
When the visitors - who were without the injured Austin Gleeson, the ill Kevin Moran, and Conor Gleeson arrived late after being snowed in - did get off the mark in the 20th minute it was through a green flag. Under a good delivery from Stephen Bennett, Spillane grappled with Curran and referee John Keenan awarded a penalty, which Curran drilled beyond the dive of Anthony Nash to reduce the gap to two points.
Though Pauric Mahony had a couple of frees, they couldn’t come any closer in the first half, though they did have a couple of other goal chances, with Spillane doing well to deny Tom Devine while Nash easily saved from Colin Dunford.
The points continued to come for Cork, Patrick Horgan’s injury-time free - their first from a dead ball - making it 0-10 to 1-2, but Waterford came back to within a goal by half-time thanks to points from Jamie Barron and Mikey Kearney.
The third quarter saw the sides trade scores before Cork looked to have made a decisive move as Fitzgibbon’s third was followed by two more from Horgan as they established a 0-16 to 1-8 lead by the 55th minute.
Waterford brought on Maurice Shanahan in a bid to turn the game but he was sent off within a minute after clashing with Tim O’Mahony and though Tommy Ryan had his second point to bring them to within four, Cooper had his fourth to put Cork five ahead again.
However, despite the disparity in manpower, Waterford found something and two Stephen Bennett points sandwiched one by substitute Jake Dillon to leave two in it with just four minutes left.
Cork could have wilted but they didn’t, Horgan getting his fifth before Daniel Kearney marked his introduction by scoring straightaway. Spillane landed a huge effort and Kearney got another to ensure the win.
Despite the loss, Waterford manager Derek McGrath took a lot of positives, not the least the operation of a six-man defence.
“When we don’t go with seven or eight at the back, people wouldn’t be giving out and saying it wasn’t the match to go with it.” he said.
“When we lost Austin [GLEESON], we lost Kevin [MORAN]and we lost Darragh Fives, we said we’d go with six, we planned it during the week. The match-ups that normally ensue between Cork and Waterford, we said we’d go away from them.
“We just said to Tadhg, ‘Go 50 yards and don’t follow him anything after that’. It was something like against Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final two years ago.
“It’s just a matter of picking the right game to try it. Without being flippant about the result, you’re saying fellas might be struggling but you leave them at it and you might hopefully build something for the future.”
CORK: A Nash; S O’Donoghue, E Cadogan, C Spillane (0-1); C Joyce, T O’Mahony, M Coleman; D Fitzgibbon (0-3), B Cooper (0-4); S Harnedy, D Brosnan (0-3), C Lehane (0-1); A Cadogan (0-1), P Horgan (0-5, 3f), M Cahalane (0-1). Subs: L Meade for Cahalane (46), D Browne for O’Mahony (57-58, blood), D Kearney (0-2) for Brosnan (63), R O’Flynn for Alan Cadogan (70).
WATERFORD: S O’Keeffe; S Fives, B Coughlan, N Connors; K Bennett, T de Búrca (0-1), Philip Mahony; J Barron (0-1), C Dunford; Pauric Mahony, (0-4, 2f), S Bennett (0-3), M Kearney (0-1); T Devine, P Curran (1-0 penalty), T Ryan (0-2). Subs: C Gleeson for K Bennett (53), M Shanahan for Kearney (55), B O’Halloran for Dunford (61), J Dillon (0-1) for Curran (61), M Walsh for Ryan (66).
Referee: J Keenan (Wicklow)