Absence of Cork supporters at Semple Stadium didn't help Rebels' cause

Absence of Cork supporters at Semple Stadium didn't help Rebels' cause

Cork hurlers Christopher Joyce and Robert Downey in pursuit of Austin Gleeson of Waterford at Semple Stadium. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

SADLY there was no cry of 'Rebels, Rebels, Rebels' as Cork took to the pitch in Thurles on Saturday. Or the roar of crowd as a Cork player sent the sliotar flying over the bar.

By now the players are getting used to empty stadiums as they bid to outwit their opponents and in this case to reach the Munster hurling final.

The lack of atmosphere is, without doubt, having an effect on games as what side isn't lifted when they hear that roar from their thousands of supporters who would only love to have been there.

The bond between Cork and their supporters is special and on many an occasion they have been that extra man to help lift the side and drive them on to victory. It's no excuse for their poor display and losing, but I do believe Cork felt the absence of their supporters more than Waterford did.

Players and team management acknowledge the privileged position they are in, as outlined by Cork manager Kieran Kingston last week when he said he reminded them of it on a regular basis.

So too must we, as journalists, acknowledge that we are lucky enough to get to see the games 'live'. You can watch on TV or a streaming of a game but nothing beats being there and those that were present, once again, saw another entertaining encounter between these two sides.

Of course Waterford were by far the happier side at the end of the 70-odd minutes and no one can deny they were by far the better side.

Throughout they just seemed that much quicker to the ball, out-thinking and at times, outmuscling Cork in the close contact tussles.

In manager, Liam Cahill, they have brought in someone who knows all about winning and the former Tipp underage manager knows all about beating the Rebels. He masterminded two huge wins over Cork at this age level and he continued that winning streak, this time with a different county and at the top level.

It says a lot about him and he has shown he knows how to beat Cork and set up his side to quell the Rebels scoring threats.

Tadhg de Burca ruled the game from centre-back and it was no great surprise to see him named Man of the Match after. Cork never got to grips with him and his distribution from there was key to their success and the Rebels loss.

Time after time he picked up the sliothar, seemed to have all the time in the world to pick off his passes and set the Déise in search of another score.

Liam Cahill was full of praise of his side's work-rate and also for de Burca.

“Work-rate was one of the main pleasing aspects of it but I thought our use of the ball was really good. When Stephen Bennett came deep towards the end of the game his distribution was excellent.

“There was a nice feel to it, there was an energy on the field and when there’s energy on the field you always have a chance.

“Ever before I came to Waterford Tadhg was a guy I was looking at every summer as one of the key back men in the country. To come back from the injury he had 12 months ago to that kind of form is credit to the man himself,” said Cahill.

And that mention of energy best sums up the difference on the day, Waterford were buzzing and Cork never seemed to get going. There is a lot of work to be done ahead of the qualifiers and Kingston will have his work cut out to pick them up.

But hopefully the likes of Darragh Fitzgibbon, Eoin Cadogan, Colm Spillane and Aidan Walsh (all injured) and Robbie O'Flynn returning from suspension will add that buzz to training and see the Rebels drive on through the qualifiers.

The Munster title is gone, but loyal fans will recall a trip to Killarney a few years ago at this stage, that kick-started their season and Liam came to Leeside that year.

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