Déise won't fear Cork this time but remember the hurlers are in bonus territory

Déise won't fear Cork this time but remember the hurlers are in bonus territory
Waterford's Tadhg de Burca claims the sliotar on Sunday. His red card against Wexford could well be overturned and he'll be a vital cog against Cork. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

A Cork-Waterford rematch this August has obvious parallels to the last golden age of Rebel hurling.

The counties were huge adversaries in the mid-noughties, and not just because of a series of classic Munster collisions. The four games at Croke Park added to the intensity of the rivalry: the 2005 quarter-final, the '06 semi, and two quarter-finals in 2007.

There were numerous dramatic moments, from Brian Corcoran's drop-shot goal in '05, Cathal Naughton's stunning debut and Donal Óg Cusack's late save a year later, and then the controversial late free in '07, as well as Waterford's gutsy finish to come from four points down. The key difference was Cork were All-Ireland winners in 2004 and 2005, making four finals in a row, and when Waterford did reach the decider in 2008 were tanked by Kilkenny.

Their best chance was arguably 2007 as they were Munster and league champions and had seen off the Rebels on Jones Road. A bit of arrogance and tiredness, playing three weeks in a row, cost them in the All-Ireland semi-final against Limerick.

Waterford's record in August is appalling, with '08 the only time they made it to the big day. They'll probably fancy their chances this time, given Galway are considered the more formidable of the provincial winners and they owe Cork from the Munster loss.

There are plenty of talking points ahead of August 13, the most obvious of which relates to the red card flashed late on to the Déise number five last Sunday. Could the clash hinge on the availability of Tadhg de Burca?

Granted it's easier to shine when you're unmarked, but De Burca excels as the sweeper; his aerial prowess, strength and distribution means he's the immense at the role. After going with a slightly more traditional approach in June, Waterford boss Derek McGrath will pull bodies behind the ball in numbers this time.

Can Cork's young guns thrive against a variation of the blanket defence? Can the veterans maintain their form on a first return to GAA headquarters since the dark day against Tipp in 2014?

There's no denying that the momentum Cork have gained in capturing Munster in style will be worth a bit next month. As will the belief and colour the Rebel faithfull bring. Yet this is bonus territory for the team and while, being from Cork, there is pressure they shouldn't be expected to progress.

That's not to say they can't but Waterford are in their third successive semi-final on merit. McGrath has them back playing the structured hurling that's highly effective for them and it's an occasion when someone like Austin Gleeson could rip it up.

There's a bit of a gap now to the hurling game, which should really have been filled by the Cork footballers meeting Roscommon this Sunday.

Seán Powter of Cork celebrates scoring his side's first goal with team-mate Ian Maguire last Saturday. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Seán Powter of Cork celebrates scoring his side's first goal with team-mate Ian Maguire last Saturday. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

They couldn't catch a break against Mayo and while it was encouraging to see them play with a bit of fire and fury, consistency would be critical if Peadar Healy's replacement is to make an impact.

There's no obvious candidate, even if John Cleary's name is being mentioned again. Having missed out for whatever reason in recent years, he'll hardly want it now. Billy Morgan has also been touted, but whatever about that, he should have an involvement in getting decent management structures on board at all levels from here.

On a more positive note, you'd want to be a real cynic not to be impressed by the new Páirc. If you approach the ground from the CAB Motors side, the vista is simply spectacular, as the South Stand rises up above the all-weather pitch. The finish and design of the roof, 25 metres above ground level, is breathtaking.

As it mirrors the original bowl structure with curved terraces, it has a personality rare in a new build. The facilities are on a par with Croke Park and in some ways an improvement.

Seanie McGrath, former Cork hurler and selector and Head of Sales at OCS Ireland, and Áine Mulcahy, MD at OCS group Ireland, at the new Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Seanie McGrath, former Cork hurler and selector and Head of Sales at OCS Ireland, and Áine Mulcahy, MD at OCS group Ireland, at the new Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

OCS, the electrical contractors, have fitted it out with the technology to future-proof the Páirc. It's the first 'smart' stadium in Ireland and the UK, with Tottenham Hotspur's soon to be the second. The 4G connectivity will be easily upgraded for 5G – uninterrupted data streaming – and the floodlights are LED, again a first.

Those floodlights are one of the most stylish features of the ground, and it's not hard to imagine the electricity, in every sense, when they're illuminated for league games next spring. The hurlers against Tipp or Kilkenny, the footballers, provided they can escape Division 2, taking on Dublin or Kerry in 2018.

Right now though, there are a few All-Irelands to be won and a new football boss to be appointed.

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