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Ryan: Rebels fighting for survival

April 25th, 2024 9:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

Cork senior hurling manager Pat Ryan.

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CORK hurling manager Pat Ryan is expecting a strong response from his team as they face what is essentially a must win game this weekend. The Rebels opened their Munster SHC campaign with defeat against Waterford at Walsh Park last Sunday and now they must face into a pivotal clash as Clare visit SuperValu Páirc Uí Chaoimh this Sunday (2pm). With the Banner County having lost their opener, going down by three points at home to Limerick after leading by seven in the second half, neither side can afford another loss. The pressure will be on Cork to perform in front of what is hoped will be a big home crowd and Ryan is confident that they will.

‘The lads are disappointed, of course they are,’ he said. ‘We are all disappointed. Every Cork fella is going away from Waterford disappointed. We will wake up in the morning and we have to wipe this away and have to go again next Sunday. ‘That’s the key thing. We have two home games coming up back-to-back. There will be a big crowd in Cork and we need to represent the jersey a bit better than we did today.’

Apart from Patrick Horgan’s early point to open the scoring before a crowd of 11,973, Cork never led. Jamie Barron responded to Horgan’s point with a fine goal as he latched on to Shaun O’Brien’s puckout and ran at the defence before
firing home. That set the tone as Waterford pushed on to lead by 1-4 to 0-1 before Cork got going again. With captain Seán O’Donoghue, Darragh Fitzgibbon at midfield, and attacker Shane Barrett showing up best for Cork, they were back to within two points at one stage but poor wides were costly. Waterford were good value for their half-time lead of 1-11 to 0-10 and the showing from Davy Fitzgerald’s team was not a surprise to Ryan. ‘That’s exactly what we expected,’ he said.
‘This Waterford team is a very good one and they’ve a lot of good players back since the league. Last year in the first game against Limerick, they had a superb performance. ‘We knew it was going to be a really tough battle and it was a really tough battle. They have a lot of good players. ‘We’d be disappointed with some aspects of our play that weren’t good and we need to try to solve that for next week.’

The opening stages of the second half brought some hope. Mark Coleman, who had moved from wing-back to midfield, pointed on the restart and Barrett and Fitzgibbon brought them within one. Though Dessie Hutchinson and Barron helped Waterford to stay in front, Cork had momentum and Patrick Horgan’s sixth free of the day levelled at 1-13 to 0-16
on 44 minutes. The expectation might have been that Cork would drive on from there but instead, Waterford had three in a row, from Neil Montgomery, Calum Lyons and Dessie Hutchinson, with Darragh Lyons involved in setting up two of those. Séamus Harnedy and Alan Connolly brought Cork back to one but Hutchinson was on song from frees and Waterford were two in front, 1-18 to 0-19, when they were given a boost on 57. With Jack Prendergast in a dangerous position, Ciarán Joyce had to foul him but referee Michael Kennedy deemed it to be denial of a goalscoring opportunity and so Waterford were awarded a penalty with Joyce black-carded. Stephen Bennett nailed the penalty for a five-point advantage.

Cork had three of the next four points after that, through Harnedy, Ger Millerick and O’Flynn but in the midst of that they lost Damien Cahalane to a harsh second yellow card and Waterford once again responded well. Calum Lyons’ third made it 2-22 to 0-23 before Cork were given a tiny bit of hope, Connolly pouncing on a loose ball and sprinting clear before fir- ing home. Patrick Curran and Hutchinson lessened the impact of that goal as they replied with Waterford points and an- other goal remained elusive for Cork. Prior to the championship, Ryan had targeted green flags. If Cork are to stay alive, more will be needed. ‘We didn’t get the ball in enough,’ he said. ‘We had great opportunities to get the ball into the lads early, to get them into the game and we didn’t do it. But you could see when the ball went in there, they were very dangerous, just didn’t get enough ball into to them. ‘And we had possession. That is just something we need to analyse and work on for next week.’

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