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5 talking points after Cork's winning run continues and Waterford make Munster exit

The Rebels backed up the promise of their win over Tipp, while the Deise fell flat.

Kieran Kingston and Diarmuid O'Sullivan celebrate Cork's victory.
Kieran Kingston and Diarmuid O'Sullivan celebrate Cork's victory.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

1. Cork back up May promise

The hurling championship began with a bolt from the blue as Cork sent the All-Ireland champions packing in a wondrous and epic clash. Four weeks on from that Tipperary success, they journeyed back to Thurles today with the question hanging over them of whether that was an aberration or a launchpad?

It was a case of the latter. This win was arguably more significant, hardening Cork’s credentials as they delivered a second successive statement of Munster intent. Kieran Kingston watched his Cork team win a game that was more of a uncompromising battle than the carefree shootout last month. Two games into their 2017 campaign and they have made major progress.

What a day for Cork hurling! The fans weren't hanging around with the pitch invasion either!

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2. Waterford falter in their summer opener

For the first time since 2014, Waterford’s players will not be walking in the parade on Munster hurling final day. The truth is that never looked like they were on the cusp of booking a place in that decider. Semple Stadium was the scene of an enthralling Waterford display last August against Kilkenny, they returned to the stadium today but fell flat.

Waterford’s tackling was poor as they coughed up frees, they squandered chances at the other end in amassing 16 wides and never were in the ascendancy on the scoreboard after the 10th minute. Waterford were the last team to make their 2017 hurling championship bow but after waiting patiently their supporters were left deeply disappointed.

Maurice Shanahan celebrates scoring a goal Maurice Shanahan celebrates hitting the net for Waterford Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

3. The impact of Shanahan’s goal 

It was a match that only produced a single goal yet it was interesting to note the reaction of both teams. When Maurice Shanahan escaped the clutches of the Cork defence to whip the ball into the net at the Killinan end, it seemed it would be the perfect injection of confidence for a flagging team.

But Waterford only amassed three points after that 46th minute strike, a reflection of their offensive struggles and a tribute to Cork’s diligence in defence. It was an impressive response by Cork to outscore Waterford thereafter as they bounced back just like they had when conceding a goal to Tipperary’s John McGrath four weeks ago.

Cork didn’t manage to find the net themselves yet it wasn’t for the want of trying with Patrick Horgan, Alan Cadogan and Seamus Harnedy having first-half opportunities. A tip of the hat to Stephen O’Keeffe for that remarkable save to deny Harnedy before the break.

Noel Connors with Patrick Horgan Waterford's Noel Connors and Cork's Patrick Horgan Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

4. The Horgan-Lehane scoring double act

When Cork defeated Tipperary, Conor Lehane pointed the way when raising ten white flags while Patrick Horgan contributed 0-4 from play. Today they swapped those scoring tallies as Horgan assumed the responsibility of free-taking and the combined haul of 0-14 was again instrumental to a Cork success.

The attacking quality of the Midleton and Glen Rovers men has been unquestioned but producing it in a consistent fashion has been tricky.  Today Lehane linked up well with Mark Coleman – outstanding once more on the left flank – for a couple of memorable points from the sideline, while Horgan was a reliable source of scoring inspiration throughout. The duo have began this championship in a promising fashion and Cork are prospering as a result.

5. Waterford added to qualifier bearpit

And so a third 2016 All-Ireland semi-finalist is thrown into the All-Ireland hurling qualifier bearpit. The presence of Kilkenny and Tipperary already ensured spice and competitiveness to the qualifier ties on the first and second Saturday of July.

The presence of Waterford in the draw adds another layer of intrigue and raises the prospect of fascinating Round 1 ties that will have huge implications. How Waterford try to get their season back on track after this setback will be interesting.

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