Saturday, 26th May 2018
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Waterford fall on Leeside

It was a case of Division One 'A' survival for the winner of this Allianz National Hurling League playoff in Pairc Ui Rinn on Sunday last between Waterford and Cork. Following two really good performances in their recent wins over both Cork and Clare, the Waterford faithful travelled to Leeside in the knowledge that the mood in the camp would certainly have been extremely positive. Indeed there had been a huge turnaround in form in recent weeks for the Deise while Cork having won their opening tie against Kilkenny had suffered four losses on the bounce. It would appear that Waterford manager Derek McGrath was in the better position than his counterpart John Meyler as far as recent form was concerned.

Undoubtedly there is rarely little between both Waterford and Cork in competitive matches and this we expected would be much of the same.

The management of the Deise were forced to plan without former player of the year Austin Gleeson, who had picked up a recent injury, and Conor Gleeson, travel delayed, so Thomas Ryan and Colin Dunford were brought into the starting fifteen. Team captain Kevin Moran was also ruled out as he was unwell during the week. This was indeed a real opportunity for some of the extended panel in a make or break game. With Seamus Harnedy back from suspension it appeared that Cork manager John Meyler could call on a full compliment of his panel. Pairc Ui Rinn had escaped the heavy snow although it was windy and very cold with intermittent light sleet. The conditions were anything but conducive for hurling but the players just got on with it.

The opening attack for Waterford saw Colin Dunford just wide before Tom Devine created an opportunity which Patrick Curran finished but referee John Keenan, in consultation with his umpires, ruled out as the Dungarvan club man was "in the square". Cork hit five unanswered points in a ten minute spell. Opening the scoring for the Rebels was midfielder Darragh Fitzgibbon and this was followed by points from Michael Cahalane and Dean Brosnan. Midfielder Bill Cooper added number four following good work by Mark Coleman and a fifth from a left handed effort from Alan Cadogan. Both teams had a number of scoring chances which drifted wide but in the freezing conditions who could blame them. The Cork defence was on top but in the nineteenth minute Waterford had the breakthrough. A long deliver from Tadhg de Burca was collected by Patrick Curran who was hauled down by defender Colm Spillane and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. Curran blasted the penalty to the left hand corner well away from goalkeeper Anthony Nash.

Waterford were making it tough on themselves by allowing too much freedom to the Cork midfield and a superb point from midfielder Darragh Fitzgibbon edged the home side three ahead once again 0-6 to 1-0. A foul on Tom Devine in the 23rd minute brought a free which Pauric Mahony converted. However Cork through Bill Cooper had a point after good work from Seamus Harnedy who was operating more in a centre forward rather than full forward role. Cork were guilty of missed chances as Dean Brosnan with two and Darragh Fitzgibbon were off target. Brosnan did add a point in the 27th minute as Tommy Ryan was cautioned and Christopher Joyce placed Cooper for another point a minute mater 0-9 to 1-1.

A foul on Alan Cadogan saw Patrick Horgan's effort come back off the post and from the clearance Mikey Kearney was fouled and Pauric Mahony pointed the resultant free. Both teams continued to miss scoring chances before Jamie Barron split the posts with an effort to bring the lead back to four points 0-10 to 1-3. Just before the break a Mikey Kearney run saw the Ballyduff Upper player add a point and Waterford would be very happy to go in just three points adrift 0-10 to 1-4.

Cork were quickly back on the offensive after the restart as Conor Lehane added a point. However a Pauric Mahony free saw the lead again back to three. Dean Brosnan added a point for the Rebels but a Tom Devine effort came back off the post and was cleared a minute later. Pauric Mahony had a point from play in the 46th minute but Lehane set up Darragh Fitzgibbon for a point and the home side still had their noses in front 0-14 to 1-7. A super effort from Stephen Bennett was blocked over by Cork custodian Anthony Nash as Waterford searched for the score that might bring them within shooting distance.

Patrick Horgan had point number fifteen for Cork as Conor Gleeson replaced Kieran Bennett in the Deise defence. A foul on Alan Cadogan saw Patrick Horgan point number sixteen for Cork and they led by five. Maurice Shanahan replaced Mikey Kearney in the Waterford attack. However within minutes the Lismore man was dismissed for an off the ball incident with Cork centre back Tim O'Mahony.

A superb by Tommy Ryan saw the Tallow player point but Cork came straight back for midfielder to finish a sweeping move for the Rebels 0-17 to 1-9. Stephen Bennett had a huge ninety metre point for Waterford as both Jake Dillon and Brian O'Halloran came into the action. Luke Meade was off target for Cork as Waterford through Tommy Ryan added a point 0-17 to 1-11. Another point from Stephen Bennett and, against the odds, there was just a brace between the sides. That however was as close as it got as Patrick Horgan, Daniel Kearney, Colm Spillane and Kearney edged the Leesiders ahead 0-21 to 1-12. In the dying minute Tadhg de Burca concluded the scoring with a point for Waterford. Cork were worthy winners on a 0-21 to 1-13 scoreline but Waterford had made them work hard for the win. Derek McGrath and his management will be disappointed that the team has dropped to Division One B of the competition but there will now be a total focus on the championship and the challenges ahead. Indeed a number of players showed really good form. Noel Connors and Tadhg de Burca in defence with Stephen Bennett and Tom Devine causing many problems for the Cork defenders.

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