Fintan O’Toole reports from Semple Stadium, Thurles
FIVE WEEKS AFTER tasting league glory, Waterford proved that victory was no aberration as they saw off Cork again this afternoon in Thurles.
This time it was the setting of a Munster semi-final with Waterford booking their place in the decider on 12 July and ensuring they’ll contest their first provincial senior hurling decider since 2012.
Maurice Shanahan, Jake Dillon and substitute Tom Devine all hit the net for Derek McGrath’s side with Patrick Horgan raising a green flag from a penalty for Cork.
Fault lines surfaced in Waterford’s attacking play in the opening period as they struck nine wides. It took until the 25th minute for them to register a score from play but then they exploded into life, prising apart the Cork defence and plundering two goals.
Maurice Shanahan cracked home the first one as he profited from Austin Gleeson electing to deliver in a long ball rather than attempt a point. Shanahan outfielded Stephen McDonnell and turned to unleash a shot that was placed powerfully out of Anthony Nash’s reach.
Minutes later Waterford bagged their second. Michael Walsh made the hard yards before popping in a hand pass that released Jake Dillon, whose run had evaded the Cork defence. The De La Salle man finished crisply past Nash and Waterford had surged 2-5 to 0-8 ahead.
Those two scores were crucial in inspiring Waterford in the first-half yet Cork still had reason to be optimistic at half-time. Patrick Cronin, a late introduction for the injured Seamus Harnedy before the game, fired over three first-half points from play and Cork’s work rate in the early stages was markedly improved on the league decider.
Waterford were in front 2-6 to 0-11 at the interval before then emerging to reel off three points without reply courtesy of Shanahan (2) and Colin Dunford. Shanahan deputised impressively for regular injured freetaker Pauric Mahony and finished with 1-9 to his credit.
After that bright start to the second-half, Waterford pushed on and were able to keep Cork at an arms length on the scoreboard. Substitutes Shane Bennett and Patrick Curran got in on the scoring act on their senior championship debuts while Stephen Bennett also bagged a pair of points.
Cork kept in touch but were generally trailing by margins of five or six points and they were further hit when full-forward Luke O’Farrell was shown a red card in the 63rd minute for an off-the-ball strike.
Still they nearly launched an improbable comeback when Horgan smashed home a 70th minute penalty following a foul on Conor Lehane.
The gap was cut to two points yet Waterford held their nerve in the four minutes of injury-time with Devine grabbing the third goal that sealed their victory after a goalmouth scramble.
Scorers for Waterford: Maurice Shanahan 1-9 (0-7f, 0-1 ’65), Tom Devine, Jake Dillon 1-0 each, Shane Bennett, Stephen Bennett, Kevin Moran 0-2 each, Tadhg De Búrca, Austin Gleeson (0-1f), Colin Dunford, Patrick Curran 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cork: Patrick Horgan 1-7 (0-6f, 1-0 pen), Patrick Cronin 0-5, Alan Cadogan 0-2, Mark Ellis, Daniel Kearney, Aidan Walsh, Bill Cooper, Conor Lehane, Luke O’Farrell, Darren McCarthy (0-1 ’65) 0-1 each.
1. Stephen O’Keeffe (Ballygunner)
3. Barry Coughlan (Ballygunner)
4. Noel Connors (Passage)
2. Shane Fives (Tourin)
6. Austin Gleeson (Mount Sion)
5. Tadhg de Búrca (Clashmore/Kinsalebeg)
7. Philip Mahony (Ballygunner)
8. Jamie Barron (Fourmilewater)
10. Kevin Moran (De La Salle)
21. Maurice Shanahan (Lismore)
15. Colin Dunford (Colligan)
12. Jake Dillon (De La Salle)
11. Stephen Bennett (Ballysaggart)
14. Michael Walsh (Stradbally)
13. Brian O’Halloran (Clashmore/Kinsalebeg)
22. Shane Bennett (Ballysaggart) for O’Halloran (44)\
9. Tom Devine (Modeligo) for Stephen Bennett (60)
20. Eddie Barrett (De La Salle) for Dunford (62)
25. Patrick Curran (Dungarvan) for Dillon (67)
1. Anthony Nash (Kanturk) Capt.
2. Shane O’Neill (Bishopstown)
3. Stephen McDonnell (Glen Rovers)
4. Brian Murphy (Bride Rovers)
5. Damien Cahalane (St. Finbarr’s)
6. Mark Ellis (Millstreet)
7. Cormac Murphy (Mallow)
8. Daniel Kearney (Sarsfields)
12. Bill Cooper (Youghal)
10. Conor Lehane (Midleton)
20. Patrick Cronin (Bishopstown)
9. Aidan Walsh (Kanturk)
13. Alan Cadogan (Douglas)
15. Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers)
14. Luke O’Farrell (Midleton)
22. Rob O’Shea (Carrigaline) for Murphy (45)
23. Darren McCarthy (Ballymartle) for Kearney (50)
25. Paudie O’Sullivan (Cloyne) for Walsh (56)
Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath)