CORK booked their place in this year’s All-Ireland semi-finals on Sunday, following a tight win over a battling Waterford side.
Played in Semple Stadium amid temperamental weather conditions, the crucial period of the game came when Rebels boss Jimmy Barry-Murphy introduced Cathal Naughton, Stephen Moylan, Lorcan McLoughlin and Darren Sweetnam, with all four stamping their authority on proceedings.
Cork had one late change to their starting 15, with Jamie Coughlan named in place of Conor Lehane, and it was Coughlan who billowed the sliotar to the Waterford net after 16 minutes, giving Deise keeper Stephen O’Keeffe no chance.
But it was Waterford who then took charge, outscoring their opponents by nine points to four in the second quarter. Kevin Moran moved to midfield, and undoubtedly quietened the Rebel pairing of Daniel Kearney and Pa Cronin, who were certainly dominating up to that time.
John Mullane also impressed in the Waterford attack, along with Maurice Shanahan. However, Pat Horgan and Cian McCarthy found the target for the Rebels, who narrowly led 1-9 to 0-11 at the break.
The second half saw Shanahan again pointing for Waterford, but Paudie O’Sullivan replied, as excitement and tension grew in Thurles.
As the game entered the final quarter, the Deise again stepped up a gear, with Mullane pointing a beauty to put his side three points clear. However, Barry-Murphy’s substitutions were impeccably timed, with Naughton and Sweetnam both making valuable contributions.
John Gardiner was also introduced, giving him his first championship start of the season, with Cork growing in confidence in the closing minutes. Further points from Luke O’Farrell, Horgan and Sean Og O hAilpin saw the Rebels secure a semi-final date with Galway in Croke Park on August 19.