Waterford 1-9 UCC 0-11
Twelve years ago a revival in Waterford hurling was beginning to take shape. After years of suffering heavy defeats to stronger counties and embarrassing losses to lesser lights, Gerald McCarthy’s charges won the Waterford Crystal Trophy, beating Kilkenny in Walsh Park.
An estimated attendance of between 1,500 and 2,000 at Fraher Field last Sunday saw the Decies lift the Waterford Crystal Cup once again by virtue of a one-point win over UCC. Whether it’s the start of bigger and better things, time will tell, but based on this evidence Waterford have a long way to go yet.
Not surprisingly, UCC made numerous switches to the team beaten so compressively by Davy Fitzgerald’s Limerick IT in the Fitzgibbon Cup just three days earlier. Only the students’ captain, Waterford panellist Richie Foley, along with Kevin Hartnett, Joe Jordan, Brian O’Sullivan, Robert Whyte, Shane Burke, Eoghan Murphy and Stephen Moylan retained their places.
However, the underdogs began the game in whirlwind form. Playing with the wind, the Cork side raced into a very early lead, scoring twice inside the first minute courtesy of a brace of Eoghan Murphy points.
UCC further stretched their advantage with another brace of points in a two-minute spell. Eanna Martin pointed from play before their most dangerous attacker Eoghan Murphy sent one over from the 65-metre line.
In the early exchanges the University lads were in total control in all sections of the field and should have been well ahead by the quarter-hour mark, but some woeful shooting was to cost them dear.
The students hit all of eight wides during that period, while Waterford had two shots at goal and both went harmlessly wide.
The homesters’ first score of the game came all of 17 minutes in when Kevin Moran pointed. Then Maurice Shanahan struck a brace from frees in the next three minutes to cut the students lead to just one.
Eoghan Murphy and Shanahan swapped points from frees to keep just one between the sides. UCC hit a hat-trick of woeful wides to bring their first half total of misses to 13, before Eoghan Murphy extended the students’ lead to two points; and when Shane Burke riffled one over in additional time the Leesiders went to their dressing room three points to the good.
Waterford began the s
econd half brightly. Maurice Shanahan riffled over a brace of points inside two minutes of the re-start, and the value for patrons improved greatly thereafter.
With six minutes of the second half played last year’s Munster Minor-winning captain Martin O’Neill raised the loudest cheer of the game when he slammed the ball past Anthony Nash in the UCC goal, after a move that included Gary Hurney and Thomas Ryan, to give Waterford the lead for the first time.
Then Tadhg Óg Murphy and Kevin Moran exchanged points for their respective sides inside a minute to keep two points between the teams in favour of Waterford.
But 10 minutes into the second half the favourites were reduced to 14 men for the second successive week when Eoin Kelly was ordered from the field on a straight red card for a wild and dangerous swing with the hurley on Eoghan Murphy. As a result the Passage man will now miss the early games in this year’s National League with the minimum one-month suspension to follow.
Luke O’Farrell, who was brought in to replace Eoghan Murphy after Kelly’s dismissal, pointed for the students at the half’s midway mark, and when Robert Whyte did likewise two minutes later the sides were all square.
Maurice Shanahan split the uprights from a free with six minutes to go, to which Stephen Moylan responded three minutes later. With the time running out and the game looking to be headed for 20 minutes of extra time, Kevin Moran shot over a point for Waterford just as the hour was up.
However, nearly six minutes of additional time were played, mostly as a result of a stoppage due to an injury to Waterford corner-back Mark O’Brien with about 10 minutes left, seeing him removed from the field on a stretcher.
In the additional time, both sides had scoring chances but Waterford held out for the scrappiest of wins.
Waterford: C Hennessy; J Meagher, L Lawlor, M O’Brien; D Prendergast, M Walsh, J Nagle; E Kelly, J Murray; S Walsh, K Moran, M Shanahan; M O’Neill, G Hurney, T Ryan. Subs: O Whelan for Ryan, B Phelan for Murray, A Kearney for Prendergast, M Doherty for O’Brien.
Scorers: M Shanahan 0-6 (6 frees), K Moran 0-3, M O’Neill 1-0.
UCC:A Nash; D Kearney, R Foley, W Kearney; J Jordan, K Hartnett, S Corry; E Martin, B O’Sullivan; S Burke, R Whyte, T Murphy; D Honan, E Murphy, S Moylan. Subs. L O’Farrell for E Murphy, J Halbert for Burke, S O’Farrell for Martin, M Grace for T Murphy.
Scorers: E Murphy 0-5 (4 frees 1 65), E Martin, S Burke, T Murphy, L O’Farrell, R Whyte S Moylan (free) 0-1 each.
Referee: D Richardson (Limerick).