Cork v Waterford: What a great game is in store at Semple Stadium

It might be only a league final but neither side will want to be beaten so close to championship
Cork v Waterford: What a great game is in store at Semple Stadium

Cork team that started against Kilkenny in the Allianz NHL semi-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

ALL roads lead to Thurles on Saturday night as the adventure continues for the Cork senior hurlers.

First and foremost thanks must be given to whatever committee or person at headquarters for fixing the game for Thurles and not Croke Park.

Dragging Cork and Waterford and more importantly their supporters to Croker would have been criminal considering all the costs involved.

So a round of applause for whoever made the right decision on this occasion. We all have been critical of a lot of decisions made in Dublin so it’s only right to tip the hat in thanks when they get it right as well.

The decision to play the final at Semple Stadium means it should swell the crowd and potentially in the region of 25,000 plus could make their way to what should be a cracker.

No matter what the result next Saturday both managers will more or less say the same thing — we got what we wanted from the league and had the chance to blood a few players as well.

They won’t be wrong in that, but neither Kieran Kingston nor Liam Cahill will want to be heading home without the cup.

No manager or player ever gets to a final and wants to lose, in real terms, it’s as simple as that.

And that will definitely be the case on Saturday night.

Cahill has enjoyed success over the Rebels on a number of occasions as he masterminded Tipperary U21s to two All-Ireland titles against us.

On both occasions, Cork were the favourites and on both occasions, he was the one celebrating at the end.

No doubt he will be hoping to make it a hat-trick and on their display against Wexford on Sunday they are going to take some stopping.

All over the pitch they had players at the top of their game, with the steady influence of Tadhg de Burca key to their success.

Up front Jack Prendergast, Dessie Hutchinson, and Shane Bennett all caused problems for Wexford. But their top scorer was the outstanding Austin Gleeson, finishing with 2-3.

Waterford’s Dessie Hutchinson celebrates scoring the third goal of the win over Wexford. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Waterford’s Dessie Hutchinson celebrates scoring the third goal of the win over Wexford. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

As of now, he is not available for selection after receiving a straight red card in the second half for an off-the-ball incident.

Have no doubt that the Déise will appeal and explore every avenue so it could be a late call as to whether he will line out or not.

But Cork are now in a position where they shouldn’t fear anyone or any team.

Their win over Kilkenny last Saturday night showed they can mix it with the best of them, be it a physical or pure hurling encounter.

The Cats brought a level of physicality that Cork hadn’t faced all season and they overcame that challenge and brought their own level of intensity and aggression to deservedly come out on top.

In Darragh Fitzgibbon we have one of the best, if not best, midfielders in the country with the likes of Ciaran Joyce and Conor Lehane outstanding as well.

It may only be the league but there is swagger back in Cork hurling as they have learned from last year and pushed upwards. Here’s hoping they will be the ones smiling all the way home come Saturday night.

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