On the night, Cork were outscored by four goals to one and that confirmed a recent downward trend – having scored two against Clare and Galway either side of a four-goal haul in Offaly, the games against Wexford, Kilkenny and now Waterford yielded just one each. A worry?
“It is of course,” Kieran Kingston said, “we only scored one goal coming down the stretch and didn’t threaten a huge amount.
“When they got the two goals, there was a good chance, Shane [Barrett] was unlucky and we missed a point, so suddenly it could have been a two-point game but I’m looking at the positives there, obviously, and that’s not taking away anything from Waterford’s performance on the night because they deserved their win and congratulations to them because they were the best team on the night, no question.
“Four-one – it makes it a tough task when it’s 12 points to three from goals alone, plus your conversion-rate and the frees. When you add it all together, it’s a real challenge.”
After losing the All-Ireland final last August, this will be used as more evidence for the prosecution against Cork, but it’s too simplistic to say that there is a mental block around deciders – not least because a good chunk of the side won Munster in 2017 and 2018 and others have All-Ireland U20 medals.
Waterford lost the Munster and All-Ireland finals in 2020 – and if the under-performance against Clare last year is discounted, Limerick are the only team to beat them in the last two championships.
This was always going to be tough and, while Cork didn’t play well, it was only the league final. A bigger sin would be letting this affect confidence facing into the championship.