Cork 5-22 Waterford 1-27
A late goal-rush finally killed off Waterford’s stubborn resistance to give Cork an encouraging start to their national hurling league campaign at a blustery Páirc Ui Chaoimh on Sunday.
The beaten All-Ireland finalists trailed by only four points with the wind at their backs entering the closing stages, but Cork’s substitutes made a telling impact.
First, Shane Kingston smacked home a super goal from the left to make it 3-22 to 0-24 after 66 minutes before newcomer Alan Connolly from county champions Blackrock netted twice in quick succession.
Waterford also lost Calum Lyons to a red card before the outstanding Stephen Bennett claimed a consolation goal in injury-time.
Cork selector Diarmuid O’Sullivan was delighted with the win and highlighted certain aspects which pleased management.
“We used the ball well, retained it well and I thought we worked incredibly hard. It has been a focus for us, but at the same time it’s only a start and we won’t get carried away,” he said.
Cork appeared to be pulling away from their rivals during the third quarter, sweeping 2-17 to 0-13 clear after Jack O’Connor scored their second goal in the 44th minute.
Waterford, though, fought back with Bennett leading the way and brother Kieran, Austin Gleeson and substitute Mikey Kearney lending assistance.
In the first half the game upped a couple of notches after the first water-break, which had Cork in front by 0-6 to 0-4 after O’Connor went closest to the opening goal, but his shot flew wide of the far post.
Within seconds of the resumption, though, Cork sliced open the Waterford defence following a super move, initiated by wing-back Tim O'Mahony and carried on by Shane Barrett and Darragh Fitzgibbon, who set up Robbie O'Flynn for a cracking finish.
Moments later Waterford created a goalscoring opportunity of their own, but Lyons couldn’t capitalise, driving his shot low and wide of new keeper Patrick Collins’ right hand upright.
At the other end, Waterford keeper Billy Nolan was brave to dash off his line to deny Horgan a second Cork goal in the 25th minute, though the sharpshooter converted the resulting ‘65’.
The home side claimed the closing three scores of the period for a commanding 1-12 to 0-8 interval advantage giving Waterford plenty to ponder at the interval.
The pattern continued on the resumption with Horgan and Bennett showcasing their placed-ball talents and Waterford seemed to be mounting a serious revival, outscoring their opponents by 0-5 to 0-1 before Cork’s late avalanche of goals ended their bid.
It’s been a problem area for Cork in recent seasons and O’Sullivan admitted it was an area which needed attention.
“Any day you score five goals, you have a chance of winning and goal-creation has been an issue for us. Again, it’s something we’ve been working on,” he commented.
CORK: P Collins; N O'Leary, D Cahalane, S O'Donoghue; T O'Mahony (0-2, one free), M Coleman, N Cashman; B Hennessy, D Fitzgibbon (0-3); R O'Flynn (1-1), L Meade (0-1), S Harnedy (0-1); J O'Connor (1-0), P Horgan (captain) (0-12, seven frees, three 65's), S Barrett (0-2).
Subs: S Kingston (1-0) for Harnedy and A Cadogan for O'Connor, 53 mins, D Meaney for Hennessy 58 mins, A Connolly (2-0) for Barrett and C Cahalane for R O'Flynn, 64 mins, J O'Flynn for O'Mahony and R Downey for D Cahalane 69 mins
WATERFORD: B Nolan; I Kenny, C Prunty, S McNulty; M O'Brien, I Daly (0-1), K Bennett (0-3); D Lyons, C Lyons; J Fagan (0-1), C Gleeson (0-1), N Montgomery; S Bennett (1-12, seven frees, one '65), A Gleeson (0-5), C Dunford.
Subs: B Power for Montgomery half-time, P Hogan for O'Brien and M Kearney (0-2) for Dunford, 46 mins, P Curran (0-1) for C Gleeson 53 mins, M Kiely (0-1) for Fagan 65 mins.
Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny)