Job done for now as Rebels remain in the mix for glory

Job done for now as Rebels remain in the mix for glory
Conor Lhane is tackled by Waterford's Jack Prendergast and Conor Gleeson. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

JOB done for Cork and the bottom line is that's the only thing that matters.

Before the game, there were a lot of questions asked about Waterford, after their display last week, as to what their attitude would be on Saturday night.

From a Cork perspective, they could only worry about themselves and set about getting the points on offer ahead of the clash with Clare next week.

And what do you do with a team whose confidence is fragile? Well, you come out all guns blazing and try and hit them hard early on to shatter what's left of that confidence.

And that's what Cork tried to do, scoring 1-2 in the first nine minutes to a single point for Waterford.

With 11 minutes gone it looked to be well on track for a comprehensive Cork win, but for some reason, maybe because they were in control everywhere, the Rebels took the foot off the gas just a little.

That little glimpse of a let-up was enough for Waterford to regroup and they hit three points in-a-row and suddenly there was only one in it.

During that spell, Cork gave away some sloppy frees, with four of Waterford's first six points coming from them, a stat that they won't be happy with.

It left the Déise back into the game and gave them that little bit of a confidence boost they needed.

Sometimes it can be hard to up the pace again when that happens, and at times this encounter looked more like a league than a championship tie.

But in truth, Cork never looked in any real trouble and you always got the sense that there were another two or three gears there if needed.

When they had to Cork strung some sublime passes together, Darragh Fitzgibbon's point a typical example. Harnedy picked up a pin-point accurate puck out from Nash and he played it to Meade, who then found Fitzgibbon in acres of space to coolly slot over the bar.

There were plenty other examples of this all through the 70 minutes as Cork played the ball around with pace, accuracy and at times it looked like they had an extra man on the pitch.

They drew in the Waterford defence and then with one pass switched the play to the other side where a free player was on hand, to either score or set up one.

However when they look back they will also be aware there were a number of occasions when players were free and in better positions and the man on the ball went for the shot and missed, when a simple pass would have guaranteed a score.

Afterwards summing up the game Cork manager, John Meyler, said that it was all about winning and getting the two points on offer and he is dead right.

Whether it was by one point or the 13 they won by it didn't really matter. They had to win and put themselves in a position to first and foremost stay in the championship and then with a chance of making the Munster final.

Of those two staying in the championship, stating the obvious, is the most important one and we now go to Ennis next weekend knowing that is a possibility.

That in itself is going to be a massive game, but winning on Saturday night was another huge step on road to the All-Ireland series.

We can talk about some great passages of play and the mistakes that were made, but bottom line is Cork have the two points and are still in contention and that was the only focus of Meyler and his side on Saturday.

They can't control what is happening in other games, they can only control what they do themselves and two magnificent wins see them back where they want to be – in the hunt for honours.

Looking at the side a number of players are now nailed on starters and it would be a great surprise not to see the likes of Eoin Cadogan, Mark Ellis, Bill Cooper, Seamus Harnedy, Alan Cadogan and Pat Horgan be included in every side going forward.

There are a few others you could probably add to that as well, but the nice position is that Meyler now has plenty of options to bring in off the bench, most of whom if started wouldn't weaken the team in any way.

Tim O'Mahony came in for Cooper and slotted over two points, with Shane Kingston coming on for Aidan Walsh and he scored three.

Add in the likes of Conor Lehane and Christopher Joyce, who also came on, and you get the idea of just how strong this Cork squad is now.

Competition for places in the matchday squad is massive, not to mind the starting 15.

We have come a long way from the first outing against Tipp and Cork are now back to the level they expect of themselves and also fans expect of them.

They can go to Ennis confident in their own ability and hopefully there is a long summer there yet for the Rebels and their loyal supporters.

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