Ahead of the Cork and Waterford rewatch on RTE we look at the magic moments between the two great hurling rivals

Ahead of the Cork and Waterford rewatch on RTE we look at the magic moments between the two great hurling rivals
A classic shot of Dan Shanahan and Diarmuid O'Sullivan during one of their 2007 Cork-Waterford tussles. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

THE most fondly remembered Cork and Waterford encounter of the noughties was the 2004 Munster final.

It's often held up as the greatest provincial decider of all time. That's a subjective call, but it was an absolute epic which is being shown against on Thursday night at 9pm on RTE 2. 

Eoin Kelly scores past Donal Óg Cusack in 2004. Picture: Des Barry
Eoin Kelly scores past Donal Óg Cusack in 2004. Picture: Des Barry

John Mullane saw red early in the second half but the Déise's knack at raising green flags, especially Paul Flynn's memorable 'big dipper' free when they were reduced to 14, was decisive.

The standard of the action was high when rewatching it on TG4. Which isn't surprising given the calibre of hurler in action, many of the best to ever wear their county's colours. Some of the scores landed by Joe Deane, Ben and Jerry O'Connor, Ken McGrath, Dan Shanahan and Flynn were breathtaking.

Declan Prendergast of Waterford and Brian Corcoran of Cork in action in 2004. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan
Declan Prendergast of Waterford and Brian Corcoran of Cork in action in 2004. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

It's odd in one regard though that 2004 is the game that has lived on because the Rebels recovered from that loss to go unbeaten until the 2006 All-Ireland final with three-in-a-row within reach. Successive All-Ireland and Munster crowns annexed in a 13-game unbeaten streak. 

The result didn't have any major bearing on hurling history.

Ben O'Connor is held by Declan Prendergast in the 2004 Munster final. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Ben O'Connor is held by Declan Prendergast in the 2004 Munster final. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

In that period Cork beat their rivals in the 2005 Munster semi-final, Niall McCarthy firing 0-4 from play, and '05 All-Ireland quarter-final when Brian Corcoran's late drop-shot goal sealed it, and again in the 2006 All-Ireland semi-final. 

Cathal Naughton strikes the winning goal in 2006. Picture: Dan Linehan
Cathal Naughton strikes the winning goal in 2006. Picture: Dan Linehan

Cathal Naughton's 1-1 off the bench was key on that occasion, while Donal Óg Cusack was immense.

Those three matches were lower-key affairs, extremely tense, particularly the two in Croker. Plus Cork won, so the general hurling public was never going to cherish them!

Cork and Waterford battled in 2002 and 2003. Waterford edged the dour '02 tie; Cork won 3-16 to 3-12 in 2003, despite Mullane's hat-trick and two-finger salute to the Rebel fans. The 2004 Munster final was definitely better than those, but obviously 2003 was sweeter from a Leeside perspective when Setanta Ó hAilpín, Deane and Alan Browne all hit the net.

Setanta Ó hAilpín after his vital first-half goal in the 2003 Munster final. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Setanta Ó hAilpín after his vital first-half goal in the 2003 Munster final. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

There were three more championship collisions in 2007, with Waterford winning two along with a draw.

The first was the incredible Munster semi-final, when Donal Óg, Seán Óg and Diarmuid O'Sullivan were suspended. 

The Rebel trio in the stands in 2007. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
The Rebel trio in the stands in 2007. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

It ended 5-15 to 3-18, Fraggie Murphy stitched a couple of goals while a shot off the crossbar from Shane Murphy at the death nearly snatched a draw. 

That was a manic encounter, full of drama in the build-up with Cork trying to overturn the three red cards from Semplegate, which carried into a game where there were six goals in the first half. 

Mullane and Dan Shanahan shared 3-5; Deane lanced over four exquisite points from play.

Joe Deane gathers possession in 2007. Picture: Larry Cummins
Joe Deane gathers possession in 2007. Picture: Larry Cummins

A Flynn free was a big moment then too, the ref bringing the sliotar in closer after dissent, which cancelled out Cork's bright start. A missed Ben O'Connor penalty didn't help Cork's cause.

A stone-cold classic nonetheless. 

John Mullane races goalwards chased by Brian Murphy and Kevin Hartnett. Picture: Denis Minihane
John Mullane races goalwards chased by Brian Murphy and Kevin Hartnett. Picture: Denis Minihane

The rematch in the All-Ireland quarter-final was electric as well: 3-16 apiece in front of 72,426 on Jones Road. 

Neil Ronan celebrating a goal. Picture: Dan Linehan
Neil Ronan celebrating a goal. Picture: Dan Linehan

Neil Ronan and Fraggie Murphy combined for three goals, two in the last quarter, while sub Kevin Harnett sniped over to nudge Gerald McCarthy's charges four up with four minutes to go.

Fraggie Murphy hit three goals against Waterford in 2007. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland
Fraggie Murphy hit three goals against Waterford in 2007. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

They let that lead slip, though Brian Gavin's last-gasp decision to award a free against Cusack, following a wonder save from Eoin McGrath, still rankles. You see decisions given for failure to play the sliotar regularly now but back then a clash ball would have been the order of the day.

Donal Óg Cusack in 2007. Picture: INPHO/Donall Farmer
Donal Óg Cusack in 2007. Picture: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Cork couldn't have any complaints in the replay though, Waterford were certainly better throughout. Waterford won 2-17 to 0-20 but walked into a Limerick ambush the following weekend.

That cost them a place in the All-Ireland when they were at their hurling peak, having already beaten Kilkenny in that season's league decider. When they did make the 2008 All-Ireland final they weren't hurling as smoothly, Davy Fitzgerald a mid-season replacement as boss when Justin McCarthy was ousted, and they were obliterated.

The rivalry was bookended by meetings in 1998-99 and 2010. Cork won the '98 league and following season's Munster semi-final, while Waterford, in extra time after a replay, lifted the Munster title.

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