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5 talking points after Waterford break through semi-final barrier with win over Cork

The Deise advance and the Rebels bow out.

Jamie Barron celebrates scoring their fourth goal Jamie Barron celebrates Waterford's fourth goal of the game. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

1. Waterford break through semi-final barrier at last

For the third year on the bounce Derek McGrath brought his Waterford team to the All-Ireland semi-final stage and this time his charges broke through the last four barrier. Two years ago they met a superior outfit in Kilkenny. Last year brought the heartbreak of a replay loss to Brian Cody’s men in Thurles. But today they clicked and got the job done.

It’s a seismic moment for this Waterford team and achieved after a blistering finish to the game as they had embarked on a dazzling scoring spree. 3 September will mark the county’s first final outing since 2008 and this will surely be more of a contest. Just like Galway, the Waterford target now is to take the final step and end their long barren spell.

Derek McGrath celebrates with Philip Mahony Waterford's Derek McGrath and Philip Mahony celebrate today's win. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

2. Sending-off hits Cork hard

A tight and tense encounter was unfolding during the second half when Cork were dealt a major setback in the 51st minute. Damien Cahalane’s dismissal robbed them of a defender who has been in terrific form this year, handed Waterford a personnel advantage and disrupted the shape of Cork’s team.

At the time Cork were in front by 0-15 to 1-11 but were outscored 3-8 to 0-5 thereafter. The goals were critical moments and Waterford capitalised on the extra space afforded to them as they poured through the Cork rearguard.

Initially after Cahalane saw red, Cork settled with the inspirational Patrick Horgan pointing the way as they went in front 0-18 to 1-13 by the 58th minute. But then Waterford prised them open at the back to telling effect.

James Owens issues Damien Cahalane with a red card following a second yellow card Cork defender Damien Cahalane was sent-off. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

3. Waterford learn from June mistakes

Derek McGrath and his Waterford players had plenty time to digest the lessons from June’s Munster semi-final loss to Cork. Today they demonstrated the extent to which the team has recovered from that setback and rectified the mistakes from that game.

Waterford made subtle changes in terms of individual duels with Brick Walsh moved on to Mark Coleman and Noel Connors stationed on Alan Cadogan. Neither Cork player were allowed influence the game greatly.

Waterford were more cohesive at the back as they ensured Conor Lehane and Seamus Harnedy could not wreak havoc. They were also more clinical in front of goal. In the Munster semi-final they only hit three points after Maurice Shanahan’s 46th minute goal, today they bagged 3-9 in the same time frame.

Two teams stand for a minutes silence in memory of the late Tony Keady A minute's silence before today's game in memory of the late Tony Keady. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

4. Suspension worries for Waterford before final

As joyous a day as it was for Waterford hurling, those emotions are tempered somewhat by the concern that Austin Gleeson and Conor Gleeson will miss the decider. The Mount Sion man looked to have interfered with Luke Meade’s helmet in the first half and the Fourmilewater man was shown red for striking out at Patrick Horgan late on.

Austin Gleeson is clearly a towering figure in this Waterford team while Conor Gleeson has emerged as a really important defender. If both are banned, it will damage Waterford’s aspirations of success. The potential messy appeals process would not be an ideal scenario preparing for the final after the Tadhg de Búrca situation in the build up to this game.

Conor Gleeson leaves the field after been red carded Conor Gleeson leaves the pitch after being sent off. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

5. Horgan’s magnificence cannot rescue a young Cork team

And so after a brilliant run this summer, Cork’s 2017 season draws to a close. They got a magnificent performance today from full-forward Patrick Horgan, who shot the lights out with a 0-12 haul, including five excellent efforts from play. But he was the one Cork player who managed to locate his A-game with other team-mates not managing to scale the heights they had reached in Munster.

Cork’s defending was poor for the first goal when Shane Bennett was allowed advance in the left wing and Brick Walsh peeled away from Mark Coleman, while Christopher Joyce was crucially turned over by Austin Gleeson before the second goal. The rearguard’s cause wasn’t helped by Waterford’s extra man in the closing stages either.

Cork have undergone a considerable overhaul since their last semi-final outing in Croke Park in 2014. They made major strides this season and the age profile of the squad is healthy enough to suggest they can build and learn.

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Fintan O'Toole

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