Cork v Waterford – Munster SHC 1/4 Final Preview
Jimmy Barry Murphy’s side had their fingertips on Liam McCarthy last year before a Donal O’Donovan miracle strike sent them to a replay with Clare.
They get their 2014 campaign up and running against the Deise in Semple on Sunday. Cork and Waterford passed each other on the league escalator; Waterford went down from 1A to 1B with Cork coming up from 1b to a 1a side that were relegated to 1b this year.
Despite being relegated, Waterford had some promising results. They had home wins over Galway and Dublin, but home advantage didn’t deliver them their chance to stay up when Dublin crashed four goals by them in the relegation final. In fairness, the harsh dismissal of Shane O’Sullivan left them pucking uphill against the wind. Their porous defence was the main reason they went down; conceding 17 goals in six games is a stat of relegation. Unfortunately, their goal-scoring was also less meaty than Miley Cyrus; they only notched two in six games, both against Dublin. Unless manager Derek McGrath has managed to tighten up matters at the back and open them at the other, it’s hard to be positive about their chances.
Pauric O’Mahony is reliable on the free-taking front but the absence of a goal-getter could prove crucial in a tight game. They have the tried and trusted leaders in ‘Brick’ Walsh and Kevin Moran, and the hope will be that the championship will bring the best out of their young brigade including their four championship debutants.
Left-half forward Austin Gleeson was one of the stars of their minor winning side last year. The Deise injury list includes one of their two league goalscorers, Daragh Fives (Padraic O’Mahony got their other major), with Stephen Molumphy’s absence a hard void to fill in midfield.
While Waterford’s goal-scoring was poor, Cork’s tally of three scored in five rounds of 1B was the poorest in their division. However, their defence was meaner than an unemployed Cavan man as they conceded only three goals in those five games, the least in the division. But before you think this is heading towards an under 2.5 goals recommendation, Cork then matched their goal totals conceded and scored in the first half against Tipp. In their topsy turvy quarter-final, after conceding 2-4 without reply, Cork battled back to lead 3-11 to 3-9 at half-time courtesy of a Seamus Harnedy brace of goals. Pat Horgan is still the main scorer, with the famous Anthony Nash rise and the power he generates making any free close-in a scary proposition for those in the firing line.
That game will have done a lot to get the 1B champions up to speed and their hunger to get back to where they were last September should mean they’ll match Waterford in the battle. If they do that they have the hurlers to win out. However, 1/3 is accum material only and the four point handicap could be squeaky bum stuff, so with Waterford being less likely to score than a whistleblower in Coppers, the 8/11 about Cork to score the first goal appeals.