No real contest for Cork
Things proceeded very much along anticipated lines last Sunday at Fraher Field in Dungarvan where Cork cruised to victory over Waterford in the opening round of the Munster senior football championship.
It was little more than a useful work-out for the reigning provincial champions, who did as much as could have been expected of them against opposition that never looked capable of mounting a serious challenge.
The outcome was inevitable after Cork finished the first half 1-10 to 0-3 to the good, and any remote hopes that Waterford might have harboured of getting back into contention were completely dashed after a Paul Kerrigan goal extended the visitors' advantage to 15 points with 20 minutes remaining.
With the laurels safely in the bag, the Rebels predictably dropped a few gears after that, allowing Waterford, who, to their credit, never stopped trying, to apply a fair share of pressure in the last quarter.
It yielded a goal by Shane Walsh, who caught Cork off-guard with a quickly-taken free in the 54th minute, while 'keeper Alan Quirke made a couple of fine saves from Liam Ó Lionnain and Gary Hurney to prevent Waterford from reducing the deficit to reasonably respectable proportions before the finish.
Quirke had also been called into action in the first half, foiling an effort for a goal by Gary Hurney, who was the only Waterford forward to carry any real threat. But Hurney, who lined up at midfield before moving to his selected position at centre forward following the throw-in, clearly suffered from a lack of support, and he rarely managed to elude the attentions of flawless Cork pivot Graham Canty in any case.
Liam Ó Lionnain showed some early promise too at full forward for Waterford, but he was denied any sort of decent service as the first half progressed before moving to wing forward where he got little change from Ger Spillane.
Playing into a stiffish breeze, Waterford's game-plan was obviously geared towards damage limitation in the first half when corner forward Liam Lawlor operated as an extra defender. It worked to a certain extent, although Cork made a telling breakthrough as early as the ninth minute when Paul O'Flynn took a return pass from Daniel Goulding before delivering a cross from the right that was fisted home by Donncha O'Connor.
Shortly before that, O'Flynn, put through by an accurate delivery from Graham Canty had a chance of a goal himself, but he blazed over the bar from close-range to push Cork ahead for the first time at 0-2 to 0-1.
So, despite getting a lot of players behind the ball, Waterford weren't exactly air-tight at the back, and Cork, carving out the openings with ever-increasing regularity, strung eight points together which effectively finished the game as a contest before half-time.
With Cork leading by 1-2 to 0-2, the sequence began with a spectacular score from Donncha O'Connor after Canty, whose distribution was excellent, had picked him out on the right wing in the 19th minute. O'Connor, in razor-sharp form at left corner forward, chipped in with two more splendid points before half time, and James Masters slotted over a brace of exquisite scores as well.
Masters' points came in rapid succession in the 24th minute, and almost immediately after he had been moved from full forward, where he had been well-policed by Waterford's Tomas O'Gorman, in a switch with Daniel Goulding.
O'Gorman was quickly shifted back on to Masters, but Cork had forged 1-6 to 0-2 ahead at that stage, and Alan Quirke's save from Gary Hurney soon followed to hasten Waterford's decline.
It's a measure of Cork's growing dominance that full back Michael Shields was able to move forward to land a point before midfielder Sean O'Hare had the last word for Waterford before the break. That was the losers' only score from play in the first half when all six Cork defenders performed competently.
Debutante corner back Ray Carey spent much of the opening period operating around midfield, a duty that was entrusted to John Miskella in the second half as Waterford continued to employ Liam Lawlor in a defensive role.
Miskella was always in the thick of the action after the break, and he was involved in the lead-up to Cork's second goal, feeding James Masters whose probing delivery was first-timed to the net by Paul Kerrigan.
That enabled Kerrigan to break his duck, but the Nemo man, getting his first start in the championship, created the openings for three Cork points in the first half, and, in finishing with 1-2 to his credit, he can feel satisfied with his display at left wing forward.
Newcomer Paul O'Flynn began brightly on the opposite flank, but he had a quiet outing overall, while Pearse O'Neill and Daniel Goulding were also fairly subdued up front on the day.
.Cork under-21 star Colm O'Neill underlined his potential and gave the selectors something to think about with two excellent points after being introduced with about 12 minutes remaining, while Fintan Goold, who replaced the injured Alan O'Connor before half-time, looked lively at midfield where Nicholas Murphy was the most influential performer on view.
But, in the final analysis, it was no real test for Cork, and it's always difficult to assess individual displays in a lop-sided contest of this nature.
That Cork were the complete masters can be gauged from the fact Waterford didn't bag two consecutive scores until Gary Hurney, at full forward for the second half, had a shot deflected over the bar by Alan Quirke and substitute Stephen Cunningham quickly added another point in the 64th minute.
Scorers - Cork: D. O'Connor 1-5, 0-2 frees, P. Kerrigan 1-2, J. Miskella 0-3, D. Goulding 0-2, 0-1 free, J. Masters 0-2 and C. O'Neill 0-2 each, P. O'Flynn and M. Shields 0-1 each. Waterford: S. Walsh 1-0 free, B. Wall 0-2 frees, S. O'Hare, W. Hennessy, G. Hurney, S. Cunningham and M. O'Gorman 0-1 each.
Cork: A, Quirke, R. Carey, M. Shields, A. Lynch, J. Miskella, G. Canty, G. Spillane, A. O'Connor, N. Murphy, P. O'Flynn, P. O'Neill, P. Kerrigan, D. Goulding, J. Masters, D. O'Connor. Subs: F. Goold for A. O'Connor (injured), K. O'Connor for Lynch (injured), N. O'Leary for Spillane, J. Hayes for D. O'Connor, C. O'Neill for Masters.
Waterford: T. Wall, S. Briggs, T. O'Gorman, E. Rockett, W. Hennessy, M. O'Gorman, T. Grey, S. O'Hare, G. Hurney, G. Power, S. Walsh, B. Wall, L. Lawlor, L. Ó Lionnain, P. Hurney. Subs: P. Ogle for Grey, S. Cunningham for Power, M. O'Gorman for P. Hurney.
Referee: R. Hickey (Clare).
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