Cork 5-22 Waterford 1-27
A late goalscoring flurry ensured that Cork took victory in their opening Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A clash against Waterford at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday.
Kieran Kingston’s side never trailed at any stage in the game but, with four minutes of normal time left, they had seen their lead shrink to four points before sub Shane Kingston eased worries with a well-taken goal.
Then, in the 70th minute, Kingston did well to set up fellow replacement, debutant Alan Connolly, for a pulled finish, despite a foul in the build-up which led to a red card for Waterford’s Calum Lyons.
Connolly then struck again, set up by another sub Conor Cahalane, to make it 5-22 to 0-24. There was time for Waterford to add an unanswered 1-3 in injury time, the goal from their primary scorer Stephen Bennett, but Cork had done enough for a first win in a league opener since 2018.
It took Cork a while to ease clear of the visitors, who matched them score for score in the opening quarter of an hour, in which six points were shared.
Tim O’Mahony, who got on a lot of ball, set up Patrick Horgan for the opener within 17 seconds, though the Newtownshandrum man also provided the ‘assist’ for Waterford’s immediate equaliser, courtesy of Stephen Bennett.
By and large, Cork used the ball well, with defenders not panicking in possession, though Patrick Collins, now the first-choice goalkeeper since Anthony Nash’s retirement, was almost intercepted by Austin Gleeson. The full-back line also carried out their primary roles effectively, doing well to exert pressure without committing fouls – Waterford didn’t have a shot from inside the 20m line in the first half.
The Déise missed all three efforts from distance and Cork were stronger in this area, with two Horgan frees and an O’Mahony point giving them an 0-6 to 0-4 lead by the water-break. They had had an early sight of goal too when Jack O’Connor flashed a shot wide from a tight angle but a green flag materialised after resumed. Shane Barrett found Darragh Fitzgibbon on the run and he in turn fed Robbie O’Flynn, who slotted past Billy Nolan.
That put them five points ahead and by half-time the lead was seven, 1-12 to 0-8, with Horgan continuing to slot over frees while Séamus Harnedy got on the scoresheet and Darragh Fitagibbon added his second of the day.
Horgan’s eighth point extended Cork’s lead on the resumption and, after Stephen Bennett replied with a Waterford 65, the captain could have netted a second Cork goal, denied by a superb Conor Prunty block.
A free accrued from the next passage, converted by the Glen Rovers man, with Luke Meade making it double scores, 1-15 to 0-9. While Waterford wing-back Kieran Bennett replied with his second, Cork struck for their second goal on 43. Strong pressure as Waterford sought to come out of defence forced the turnover and when the ball fell to Jack O’Connor, he made no mistake.
That made it 2-15 to 0-10, though in the 11 minutes from there to the second-half water-break, Cork were outscored by eight points to three and the lead was down to six, 2-18 to 0-18, at the pause.
While Horgan (two) and O’Flynn moved Cork eight points clear again with ten minutes left, Waterford were dogged and Stephen Bennett’s dead-ball accuracy, coupled with Gleeson’s quality, brought them back to four.
However, while Cork’s goalscoring ability has often been an Achilles heel in the recent past, they responded emphatically.
P Horgan 0-12 (0-7 frees, 0-2 65), A Connolly 2-0, R O’Flynn 1-1, D Fitzgibbon 0-3, J O’Connor, S Kingston 1-0 each, S Barrett, T O’Mahony (0-1 free) 0-2 each, L Meade, S Harnedy 0-1 each.
S Bennett 1-12 (0-7 frees, 0-1 65), A Gleeson 0-5, K Bennett 0-3, M Kearney 0-2, M Kiely, S McNulty, I Daly, J Fagan, P Curran 0-1 each.
P Collins; N O’Leary, D Cahalane, S O’Donoghue; T O’Mahony, M Coleman, N Cashman; B Hennessy, D Fitzgibbon; R O’Flynn, S Harnedy, L Meade; J O’Connor, P Horgan, S Barrett.
A Cadogan for O’Connor, S Kingston for Harnedy (both 54), D Meaney for Hennessy (59), A Connolly for Barrett (65), C Cahalane for R O’Flynn (65), J O’Flynn for O’Mahony, R Downey for D Cahalane (both 70).
B Nolan; I Kenny, C Prunty, S McNulty; M O’Brien, I Daly, K Bennett, D Lyons, C Lyons; J Fagan, C Gleeson, N Montgomery; S Bennett, A Gleeson, C Dunford.
B Power for Montgomery (half-time), P Hogan for O’Brien, M Kearney for Dunford (both 46), S Fives for Kenny, P Curran for Gleeson (both 54), M Kiely for Fagan (65).
S Cleere (Kilkenny).