Munster SHC semi-final: red-hot Rebels overpower Na Deise
18 June 2017
Cork's Bill Cooper with Maurice Shanahan Waterford
Fourteen-man Cork powered through to the Munster senior hurling final, defeating Waterford by 0-23 to 1-15 at sunny Thurles.
Patrick Horgan rifled over ten points for the impressive victors, who will meet Clare in the provincial decider on July 9th – a repeat of the 1999 final.
This was a truly magnificent performance from Kieran Kingston’s rejuvenated men, who turned on the sytle in front of an attendance of 33,163 in scorching conditions, as they added Waterford’s scalp to that of Tipperary and sent a rudderless Na Deise side crashing into the Qualifiers.
Having been inactive for eleven weeks, the losers were given hope when Maurice Shanahan's 46th-minute goal against the run of play drew them level and they were handed another potential lifeline when the Leesiders were reduced to 14 men for the last eight minutes, but they never really got going today and are now faced with the daunting prospect of joining big hitters Tipp and Kilkenny in the back door.
There may have been no goals before the break but the neighbouring counties produced a sensational first-half contest which ended with them sharing 20 points on the scoreboard. Kingston will have been particularly disappointed at the break as his side coughed up three goal-scoring chances with the match very much in the balance.
With the sides tied at four points each, Horgan bore down on the Waterford goal in the 13th minute but fired his effort across the face of goal and inches wide of the right post.
But the brilliant Conor Lehane – who passed a late fitness test - collected an Anthony Nash puck-out and galloped down the left wing to clip over a delightful lead point for the Rebels before smashing one over from midfield. Pauric Mahony’s second score halved the deficit but Horgan’s excellent free from the left inside his own half had the Leesiders ahead by 0-7 to 0-5 at the midway stage in the first half. Centre back Mark Ellis added Cork’s eighth.
In a pulsating opening to the game, Horgan and Darragh Fitzgibbon struck the first two Cork points before Stephen Bennett, Mahony and Shanahan – a late addition to the starting XV – edged the Suirsiders ahead. Seamus Harnedy replied before Hurler of the Year Austin Gleeson lit up the game with a truly incredible score, finishing with aplomb after a simply astonishing pick-up. A stunning Mark Coleman point from a long-range sideline cut has the sides level for the third time – 0-4 each after 13 minutes.
After Cork had opened up an eight-five advantage, Waterford replied with scores from Mahony and Shane Bennett; Horgan and Mahony exchanged frees as the gap stayed at one with nine minutes left before the interval.
Horgan (free) and Conor Gleeson pointed at either end and Stephen O’Keeffe executed a couple of fantastic saves from Alan Cadogan and Horgan before Kevin Moran tied the scores up at 0-10 apiece with a minute left in the first half.
Bill Cooper edged Cork back in front from close to the right sideline within ten seconds of the restart but Austin Gleeson replied instantly. Shane Bennett almost plundered a Waterford goal but his shot from a tight angle went into the side-netting before Jamie Barron’s hook denied Harnedy a goal at the other end, with Horgan converting the resultant ‘65’ and Lehane following up with a stunner for the left sideline in the middle of the pitch – 0-13 to 0-11 after 39 minutes.
Daylight started to appear between the teams for the first time as Horgan claimed his sixth and seventh points; Mahony’s point on 44 minutes closed the gap to three and Stephen Bennett was a lucky man to avoid a straight red card when he pulled Cork full back Damien Cahalane to the ground by the faceguard.
Na Deise were level on 46 minutes when Shanahan whipped the sliothar to the back of the net from close range after inadvertently playing the most fortuitous one-two off a Cork defender’s shin.
Horgan’s close-range free following a crude Barry Coughlan challenge on Harnedy had the Rebel County back ahead and Lehane scored from distance to make it a two-point game again following a terrific Cooper shoulder on Moran. Douglas clubman Cadogan gathered and turned to make it 0-18 to 1-12 with a quarter of this engrossing contest left to be played.
Substitutes Brian O’Halloran and Michael Cahalane swapped points as we headed towards a thrilling finale and Horgan’s ninth (free) left four between the teams as we moved past the hour mark, 0-20 to 1-13.
Shanahan’s legitimate penalty appeal fell on deaf ears before the Rebels were reduced to 14 men with eight minutes left after corner back Colm Spillane picked up a second yellow card. Harnedy stretched the gap to five with a point from the middle of the pitch but Barron replied in kind at the other end.
Horgan nonchalantly drilled over his tenth point from a 68th-minute free to again give the 14 men a five-point cushion and substitute Luke O’Farrell finished a rapid Cork counter-attack with their 23rd point a minute from the end of normal time.
Derek McGrath's men needed goals but all they could muster was a pointed Shanahan free as the Rebels won deservedly.
Cork - A Nash; S McDonnell, D Cahalane, C Spillane; C Joyce, M Ellis (0-1), M Coleman (0-1sl); B Cooper (0-1), D Fitzgibbon (0-1); L Meade, C Lehane (0-4), S Harnedy (0-2); A Cadogan (0-1), P Horgan (0-10, 7f, 1'65), S Kingston. Subs: M Cahalane (0-1) for S Kingston, D Kearney for D Fitzgibbon, L O’Farrell (0-1) for L Meade, B Lawton for C Lehane, D Brosnan for A Cadogan.
Waterford - S O’Keeffe; S Fives, B Coughlan, N Connors; C Gleeson, T de Burca, Philip Mahony; J Barron (0-2), K Moran (0-1); Stephen Bennett (0-2), Pauric Mahony (0-5, 1f), M Walsh; A Gleeson (0-2), M Shanahan (1-1, 0-1f), Shane Bennett (0-1). Subs: T Ryan for Stephen Bennett, B O’Halloran (0-1) for Shane Bennett, D Fives for S Fives, J Dillon for A Gleeson, P Curran for M Walsh.
Referee - B Kelly.