FOR the second weekend in a row, what an atmosphere we got with over 70,000 in attendance.
Unfortunately the games were miles apart in entertainment value, especially in the first half, with balls being pucked out over the sideline than a rugby match in the Aviva.
It was a poor first-half display of hurling, and I don't think I was the only one in the stadium thinking that. It did pick up a little in the second half given the close scoring, with never more than a point or two between the teams,. That kept the crowd enthralled but the sending off killed the game then.
It was the first major turning point - the dismissal of Damien Cahalane for a rash challenge. Unfortunately for Cork it was his second yellow card and that only means one thing: off. I think when a player, especially a defender, gets a yellow card that management should take him off to protect the team.
Yesterday proved that losing a player is very very costly, especially against a team like Waterford who are so well organised, and as most teams are now. I think Cahalane will have nightmares about that sending off.
The second big turning point in the game was Christopher Joyce being dispossessed by Austin Gleeson, when he had plenty of time to clear his lines, resulting in Jamie Barron's first goal. To me, these two incidents decided this game.
Cork will know they didn't play well in this game, and this is what they did in 2014 against Tipperary when they were steam rolled as well.
Is this becoming a mental thing for Cork now in Croke Park? They didn't play with the same confidence they had all year, and I wonder are teams taking the Munster championship that serious any more?
Are they looking at the bigger prize? Are the qualifiers the best way to go? Because it's happening quite a lot that the Munster champions are failing to win semi-finals in recent times.
The way Cork performed in this game they did not deserve to win it. Only a few Cork players played up to form, and nowhere was that more evident than in the forwards. Apart from Patrick Horgan, who had a brilliant game, showed fantastic leadership and did everything in his power for Cork, and also Shane Kingston, who I think was fighting a lone battle at half-forward.
Seamus Harnedy, Conor Lehane, Alan Cadogan and Luke Meade came nowhere near their form of the Munster championship. Completely shut out by Waterford's Noel Connors, Shane Fives, Phillip Mahony, Conor Gleeson and the immaculate Darragh Fives - he played so well, you wouldn't even know Tadgh de Burca was missing. Darragh Fitzgibbon played well at midfield, but I think Jamie Barron and Kevin Moran ran the show here.
The biggest question mark about this Cork team, and has been for some time now, is their defence. Conceding 4-19 and 4-14 from play answers that question. Some of the scores, especially the goals, and more especially Austin Gleeson's goal... It was under 12 defending when he waltzed through (and I mean waltzed) and flicked the ball to the net.
Those moves are for the dance floor and not for Croke Park at an All-Ireland semi-final. Good defenders do not allow that to happen - tackles have to be made - bodies have to be put on the line to stop that.
Also Jamie Barron's two goals - no one picking him up - a disaster.
I said it in my preview on Friday that I felt this would be a very difficult game for Cork, although I thought 'momentum' would get them over the line. It wasn't good enough this time against a very experienced Waterford team.
Although Kieran Kingston and his management team got a lot right this year and made a lot of right calls, I think they made a wrong call when they moved Stephen McDonnell off of Austin Gleeson, because he was winning that battle. Gleeson thundered into the game after that.
I think the bigger the occasion, the more important it is to make the right calls, you have got to have a clear head at all times on the big days. Croke Park on a big occasion is very unforgiving.
I'm sure a lot of the Cork players would agreed with that now. It's the one place you can't afford to make too many mistakes. You will always have someone ready to pounce on any half mistake you make, and punish you big time.
I'm sure the selectors and players will re-group and be better for that experience next time round.
The Cork supporters, who were great again, enjoyed this summer overall and can only now wish Waterford well in the final in three weeks.
Who would begrudge them? But they will have to improve too, and I'm sure they know that.
Not all bad news for Cork by the way... great win for the minors. They deserve their All-Ireland final trip.