(originally posted by Giveitfong on boards.ie)
Given the amount of rain that fell all day Saturday and Sunday morning I thought Fraher Field was in remarkably good condition last Sunday. I don’t think Walsh Park would have been playable in the same circumstances. Given the conditions I thought it wa a very good game with a lot of good hurling.
On the overall balance of play Waterford should have won by three or four points. Contrary to what the Cork Examiner suggested, Waterford’s first half domination wasn’t due only to having the wind at their backs. They were working harder and winning the contests all over the field, but made poor use of their possession. They hit seven wides in the first half while Cork hit just three in the second. They also created numerous situations where a goal was on but never materialised for a variety of reasons including bad decision-making, poor attempted passes, good defending and plain bad luck. I think if Waterford had managed a goal in the first half the road back for Cork would have been too steep.
The early second half goal gave Cork a great boost and they did show the strong spirit that Jimmy Barry Murphy has instilled in the side. They also threw in their marquee subs including William Egan, Conor Lehane and Luke O’Farrell.
At the same time, Paudie Mahony’s missed close-in free was a shocker, while at the other end Waterford gifted Cork two points. The first was when Kevin Moran (I think) tried to hit a short sideline to a Waterford player who wasn’t expecting it and Conor Lehane nipped in to score. The second was when Stephen O’Keeffe made the crazy decision to pull on a ball which came into the square and sent it straight to a Cork player and we were lucky to get away with a 65 which Pat Horgan pointed.
This was one of two blunders which O’Keeffe made, the other being when he had plenty of time to clear his lines but opted to take the ball out along the end line where he lost possession and was lucky to see the ball going over the end line from a Cork player. This followed his blunder against Clare where his over-the-shoulder attempted handpass across his own goal almost presented Clare with a goal. I would be very worried about this tendency being shown by O’Keeffe to make poor decisions.
Waterford were also a bit unlucky not to score a goal during their late siege of the Cork goal.
Nevertheless, the great heart and fighting spirit shown by Waterford in the last two games has been heartening, as has been their ability to create openings through good passing movements. They also finished both games strongly which is a big change from last year.
I thought Liam Lawlor had an excellent game at full back last Sunday. I equally thought that Jamie Nagle was a weak link at wing back in the second half. He is unable to win ball in tight situations, or to drive out with the ball when he does have it, and he repeatedly gave Cork possession with poorly directed clearances. After a nervy start when he came on, I thought Paudie Prendergast did very well in the second half. Shane Walsh clearly lacked match fitness which cost us a couple of scores.
Jamie Barron was very impressive when he came on. His first touch was excellent and for such a young player he showed maturity in seeking to find fellow players with passes. Maurice Shanahan also looked sharp when he came on. Seamus Prendergast was marvellous while Brick Walsh and Shane O’Sullivan should also be acknowledged for their major contributions.
With Maurice, Shane Walsh and Paudie Mahony back to full fitness, Waterford’s ball-winning capacity and scoring potential up front should be greatly enhanced. If we can get Noel Connors and Dara Fives back to full fitness this will greatly strengthen our defensive options. Things are looking much brighter than we might have hoped at the beginning of the year. By the way, what is the story with Eoin Madigan, of whom I have been expecting great things, and David O’Sullivan? I believe that Richie Foley is out for up to four months with a groin injury.