Waterford’s Jack Prendergast in action against Cork’s Mark Coleman. Ken Sutton/INPHO
deise deliver

Davy Fitzgerald's Waterford secure big win over Cork in Munster SHC opener

The points weren’t secure until the end but the hosts were never led from Jamie Barron’s second-minute goal.

Waterford 2-25

Cork 1-25

AS DAVY FITZGERALD crouched in celebration on the sideline and the public address roared ‘up the Déise’, there was no doubting that Waterford are a live force in Championship 2024.

The points weren’t secure until the end but the hosts were never led from Jamie Barron’s second-minute goal.

They still needed Stephen Bennett’s 58th-minute penalty, which saw Ciarán Joyce black-carded, and Cork were down to 13 for a spell when Damien Cahalane was sent off for a second yellow.

Alan Connolly’s late goal brought the Rebels back into contention but down three and with little more than 30 seconds left, their sideline signalled for the Blackrock man to point a late free. They wouldn’t get a chance for a goal as Patrick Curran slotted the clincher.

For these two teams who missed out on qualification last year, Waterford have the oxygen of a winning start while Cork face into a home clash with Clare which has a strong sense of do-or-die.

On a glorious day in the Sunny South East, Walsh Park was packed with 11,973 fans, including more than a fair share from across the county bounds.

Waterford entered with precious little game-time in the legs of Conor Prunty, Iarlaith Daly, Tadhg de Búrca, and Bennett but when it mattered, they kept going until the very end.

Coming off a four-game losing streak, they had the greater need for a fast start. They got it in the second minute when Shaun O’Brien’s puck-out run on for Barron, stationed at wing-forward, to race away and blast to the net.

The Cork half-back line were too porous and lacking cover on those long puck-outs. Barron would break through again but Neil Montgomery was bottled up when play broke down. In similar circumstances, Mikey Kiely had a shot deflected off Mark Coleman and out for a 65. The pattern would reoccur later in the second half.

The Déise turned that early momentum into a 1-4 streak with points from Kiely, Barron, and Jack Prendergast (0-2), although new close-range free-taker Dessie Hutchinson pushed an early effort wide. He wouldn’t miss again, scoring nine out of 10.

Darragh Fitzgibbon was a rare spark for the Rebels. He would end the half with 0-3, while Patrick Horgan slotted four frees. Three of those were won by the hard-working Shane Barrett.

Waterford were 1-8 to 0-4 clear by the 21st minute, in which time Cork had blazed seven wides to the hosts’ two.

Tommy O’Connell moved back a line as Coleman was pushed into midfield and he was involved in scores for Fitzgibbon and Horgan (free) before the misfiring Conor Lehane raised his first white flag.

But Coleman gave one back when his misplaced pass allowed Calum Lyons to register from distance. 1-11 to 0-10 at midway as debutant Seán Twomey was called ashore for Robbie O’Flynn.

conor-lehane-and-tadhg-de-burca Cork’s Conor Lehane in action against Waterford’s Tadhg De Burca. Ken Sutton / INPHO Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

Coleman was centrally involved in Cork’s three-point volley to open the second half, scoring direct from the throw-in, laying on another for Barrett, and turning defence to attack for Fitzgibbon’s fourth.

Bennett had a dribbler at goal flicked away by Patrick Collins as Cork levelled with a pair of Horgan frees.

Waterford’s response was impressive. Montgomery and a Hutchinson free sandwiched a fist-pumping Lyons score under the stand.

Cork’s lift in performance owed to better efficiency, converting their first eight shots of the half until an uncharacteristic Horgan miss.

Waterford had another goal chance direct from a long puck-out as Kiely rampaged through but Rob Downey got back to block. Play was called back for a tap-over free to put Waterford 1-18 to 0-18 ahead.

From another high catch, this time Jack Prendergast under a long free, Waterford were awarded a penalty. The Lismore man was brought crashing down outside the box but Michael Kennedy signalled for a penalty and Joyce was black-carded. Bennett wrongfooted Collins to put them five clear.

Séamus Harnedy and Ger Millerick brought it back to three, 2-18 to 0-21, but Cork’s plight went from bad to worse with a second yellow card for Cahalane in the 62nd minute. Pat Ryan was forced to react by sacrificing Horgan for defender Eoin Downey.

Down to 13, Cork held the gap at three but Joyce’s return was followed by a Hutchinson free and Lyons point.

Cork fans heading for the exits were given some pause for thought when Connolly billowed the net. 2-22 to 1-23.

In the frantic three added minutes, Curran and Hutchinson had points cancelled out by Connolly’s frees but Curran would make it safe.

Scorers for Waterford: Dessie Hutchinson 0-10 (9f), Jamie Barron 1-3, Stephen Bennett 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), Calum Lyons 0-3, Jack Prendergast 0-2, Patrick Curran 0-2, Neil Montgomery 0-1, Mikey Kiely 0-1.

Scorers for Cork: Alan Connolly 1-4 (0-2f), Patrick Horgan 0-7 (7f), Darragh Fitzgibbon 0-4, Shane Barrett 0-3, Séamus Harnedy 0-2, Ger Millerick 0-1, Mark Coleman 0-1, Conor Lehane 0-1, Robbie O’Flynn 0-1, Brian Hayes 0-1 each.


1. Shaun O’Brien (De La Salle)

4. Iarlaith Daly (Lismore), 3. Conor Prunty (Abbeyside/Ballinacourty), 5. Kieran Bennett (Ballysaggart)

10. Calum Lyons (Ballyduff Lower), 6. Tadhg de Búrca (Clashmore/Kinsalebeg), 2. Mark Fitzgerald (Passage)

9. Neil Montgomery (Abbeyside/Ballinacourty), 7. Darragh Lyons (Dungarvan)

15. Jack Prendergast (Lismore), 14. Michael Kiely (Abbeyside/Ballinacourty), 8. Jamie Barron (Fourmilewater, joint-capt)

13. Dessie Hutchinson (Ballygunner), 12. Stephen Bennett (Ballysaggart, joint-capt), 11. Kevin Mahony (Ballygunner)


  • 21. Patrick Fitzgerald (Ballygunner) for Mahony (58)
  • 20. Patrick Curran (Dungarvan) for Montgomery (63)
  • 22. Pádraig Fitzgerald (Kilrossanty) for Kiely (70+3, inj)


1. Patrick Collins (Ballinhassig)

2. Ger Millerick (Fr O’Neills), 3. Damien Cahalane (St Finbarr’s), 4. Seán O’Donoghue (Inniscarra, capt)

7. Mark Coleman (Blarney), 6. Ciarán Joyce (Castlemartyr), 5. Rob Downey (Glen Rovers)

8. Tommy O’Connell (Midleton), 9. Darragh Fitzgibbon (Charleville)

12. Séamus Harnedy (St Ita’s), 11. Conor Lehane (Midleton), 14. Seán Twomey (Courcey Rovers)

10. Shane Barrett (Blarney), 13. Alan Connolly (Blackrock), 15. Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers)


  • 21. Luke Meade (Newcestown) for Fitzgibbon (33-34, blood)
  • 22. Robbie O’Flynn (Erin’s Own) for Twomey (h-t)
  • 23. Brian Hayes (St Finbarr’s) for Lehane (52)
  • 21. Meade for Harnedy (60)
  • 17. Eoin Downey (Glen Rovers) for Horgan (64)
  • 25. Jack O’Connor (Sarsfields) for Coleman (70+1)

Referee: Michael Kennedy (Tipperary).

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