Cork 1-11
Waterford 1-21

A maiden victory in Cork at Under-21 level on Wednesday last also secured Waterford a first Munster Hurling Championship victory at this grade since 2009, as Derek Lyons’s men cleared their first hurdle of the summer. The first of many, one hopes.
Shane Bennett, literally fresh from the Leaving Cert exam hall, struck 1-4 from play during an exceptional display from the Ballysaggart attacker, who was joined by brothers Kieran and Stephen in the starting XV.
And on a night when Patrick Curran once more demonstrated his match winning acumen with a 12-point haul, the notion of Waterford being the next big thing in inter-county hurling didn’t seem like a particularly tough sell.
Mirroring the counties’ senior clash, Waterford were slower to rise from the blocks as Cork made the better start, with Martin Brennan and Kevin O’Neill pointing inside the opening two minutes. Shane Bennett got Waterford off the mark after four minutes, finishing off a move instigated by Austin Gleeson and Colin Dunford.
Two minutes later, Mark O’Connor’s free restored Cork’s two-point lead, with DJ Foran replying two minutes later after Tom Devine latched onto the dominant Tadhg De Búrca’s fine catch and pass.
De Búrca, despite his ball winning and fielding ability, was a spare man for most of the night on a night when Cork also repeatedly failed to counteract Billy Nolan’s short puck outs to Shane McNulty and Conor Gleeson. Brennan pointed again for Cork in the 11th minute and Luke Meade maintained their bright opening with another point two minutes later.
However, over the next 46 minutes, Waterford would outscore their hosts by 1-19 to 1-5, demonstrating the gulf in class between both sides.
Patrick Curran opened his account with a 15th minute free and added a 65 two minutes later as the Deisemen began to find their groove. Ryan Donnelly bisected the uprights after a fine run and pass from Mícheál Harney in the 19th minute and Curran’s 21st minute free sent the Deise ahead for the first time. It was a lead they would never relinquish thereafter.
While Austin Gleeson was again prominent, charging forward from midfield, his shooting radar was off in what would appear to be the only noticeable weakness in an otherwise stellar hurling talent.
By now, Waterford were not only winning the arm-wrestle, but thanks to the physical presences of De Búrca, Gleeson and Tom Devine in particular, they were also dominating possession and territory. Shane Bennett, full of menace from the off, added his second after 21 minutes and another Curran free sent Waterford two clear just a minute later.
Mark O’Connor’s 24th minute free ended a 10-minute wait for a Cork score but a further Curran free two minutes from the break ensured the Deisemen of a 0-9 to 0-6 advantage prior to the change of ends.
After the interval, a Waterford side which, for my money anyway, played well within themselves, found another gear, with Curran (a free) and Shane Bennett, profiting from a pass from brother Stephen each pointing by the 34th minute. Martin Brennan, providing fine resistance for Cork from midfield, struck his third point from play in the 34th minute but one sensed the force was well with Waterford by then.