Curtain Closes on Season to Forget

Munster Senior Hurling Championship

Waterford 1-20
Cork 1-23

Brian Flannery at Semple Stadium

Waterford’s miserable senior hurling season drew to a close with a three-point defeat to Munster Final- bound Cork at Semple Stadium on Sunday last.
Of course, Waterford’s fate in this year’s Championship was already sealed with earlier defeats to Limerick and Clare, with nothing but pride to play for here.
Pride, character and spirit was very evident throughout from a Waterford side playing on a fourth successive Sunday.
Ian O’Regan, Ian Kenny, Colin Dunford, Brian O’Halloran and Tommy Ryan all coming into the starting line-up in a reshuffled team which also saw team captain Kevin Moran switching to the number six position while Michael Walsh started at centre-field. This is a game that won’t live long in the memory with Michael Walsh’s record breaking 74th Championship appearance the most notable and abiding memory of this tie.Both sides had numerical advantage in defence which made the game at times a difficult watch. Such tactical deployment made it tough for both sets of forwards with most of them toiling around midfield, making long-distance shooting the order of the day.

The Waterford team standing for the National Anthem prior to Sunday’s Munster Senior Hurling Championship defeat to Cork at Semple Stadium.			| Photos: Sean Byrne

The Waterford team standing for the National Anthem prior to Sunday’s Munster Senior Hurling Championship defeat to Cork at Semple Stadium. | Photos: Sean Byrne

In this regard Waterford fared best for long periods of the game while it necessitated a late injury time rally from John Meyler’s profligate side to finally secure the victory Cork required to guarantee a Munster final appearance against Clare in two weeks at the same venue.The sides were level four points apiece after 13 minutes after a tentative opening period. Waterford outscored their opponents by 0-6 to 0-2 over the next seven minutes to lead by four points (0-10 to 0-6) as the scoring rate increased. Pauric Mahony, outstanding in the opening period, landed two of these with fine individual points from Austin Gleeson, Jake Dillon, Brian O’Halloran and Jamie Barron. A nervous looking Cork frequently turned over possession persisting with their short passing game despite their poor execution and questionable decision making.All-Star Noel Connors limped out of the game after 23 minutes with Ardmore’s Seamus Keating coming on for his Senior Championship debut.
While Cork reduced the deficit to a single point with points from Horgan, Lehane and Daniel Kearney it was Waterford who came strong again to take a four-point advantage to the break (0-15 to 0-11).A Jake Dillon point after 27 minutes when Cork turned over possession in their own-half was a prime example of much of the fare in the opening half and again highlighting the general malaise afflicting this Cork side.

The third quarter belonged Cork with Bill Cooper (2), Patrick Horgan (2) and a superb Mark Coleman line-ball all raising white flags to level the game, 0-16 each by the 53rd minute.
Substitute DJ Foran landed a fine point for Waterford in reply while Cork substitute Conor O’Sullivan also did excellently to deny Tom Devine what looked like a certain goal with a perfectly timed challenge to deny the big Modeligo man.The record-breaking Michael Walsh, with his final play before being substituted and receiving acclamation from the official attendance of 14,737 put Tommy Ryan through on goal and the Tallow tornado out-paced the cover to shoot confidently past Anthony Nash to make it1-16 to 0-16 after 54 minutes.
The on-fire Ryan and substitute Maurice Shanahan exchanged points with Conor Lehane and Bill Cooper to keep the margin at a goal with now just five minutes of normal time remaining.
Mark Colman landed his second point of the game with the majority Cork attendance taking to their feet with the cry of ‘Rebels Rebels’ being heard throughout the stadium.
The goal Cork so badly required arrived in the 67th minute when Patrick Horgan gained possession and offloaded to the inrushing Seamus Harnedy on his shoulder with the Cork captain racing through to shoot low across the goal and past Ian O’Regan to put the Rebels ahead 1-19 to 1-18 and for the first time since the opening minute.

Tommy Ryan was outstanding on Sunday last, tallying 1-3 from play.

Tommy Ryan was outstanding on Sunday last, tallying 1-3 from play.

In real time, it appeared as if Seamus Harnedy had over carried on-route to goal with later TV replays confirming the technical foul by the Cork skipper.
Two Pauric Mahony frees nudged Waterford back into the lead however Cork held their nerve when it matter most and injury time points from Kingston, Horgan, Colm Spillane (from his own 45) and Harnedy confirming the win and sending Cork to the final.Conor Gleeson and Philip Mahony won their individual battles with Jake Dillon and Brian O’Halloran both produced energetic performances. Pauric Mahony while tiring somewhat in the last quarter again gave a commanding performance on the forty. Tommy Ryan gave a man-of-the-match performance scoring 1-3 from play with Tom Devine again causing many problems for his marker.Cork hit 16 wides in all (nine in the second half) but despite this remain unbeaten going into the Munster Final. Christopher Joyce (second-half), Mark Coleman, Bill Cooper, Shane Kingston and Seamus Harnedy all hurled well to get their side over the line.

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