Munster SHC Final Replay – Waterford 1-16 Cork 1-13

Waterford defeated Cork by 1-16 to 1-13 after extra time in the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final Replay on Saturday at Semple Stadium Thurles.

Shanahan settles epic

By Vincent Hogan for the Irish Independent newspaper

Monday July 19 2010

Not a night for picking through the more intimate nuances of battle in Thurles. Just one to give thanks for the old game. This wasn’t the rouged and painted face of Waterford-Cork. It was a plain and ashen chapter in their charismatic rivalry and one that thundered through the senses for 90 epic minutes on Saturday night before decanting Waterford as kings of Munster. There will be some who won’t have warmed to the aesthetics, but then there are food critics who judge a plate on appearance, not taste. Who can account for the deluded? This was extraordinary. Played out in a suitably Biblical downpour, Waterford and Cork effectively left heavy deposits of themselves on Tom Semple’s field.

Only when Dan Shanahan skidded an 83rd-minute goal at the Killinan end, did Waterford reach a clearing. Yet even then, Cork came back, coursing frantically. The game had slipped into injury-time when Cathal Naughton unleashed a shot to the town-end goal only for Tony Browne to intervene with a remarkable block, the sliotar ricocheting off his helmet. “He took it on the head,” said an admiring Noel Connors later. “That’s Tony for you though, down to a tee.”

It was a game caught in a stylistic straitjacket, Waterford’s intelligent tactics again squeezing the life out of Cork. They dropped their half-forwards deep, flooding the puckout-zone and forcing their opponents down a warren of uninviting cul-de-sacs. Denis Walsh had described Cork’s first-half tally of 0-6 in the drawn game as “a disaster”. This time, their opening 35 minutes mined a paltry 0-4, with just a single score from play. And that from a midfielder. Cork were being squeezed to the point of suffocation. Yet they happened upon four goal chances too and, had they taken one, who is to say what direction the night might have taken. Aisake O hAilpin put a ball in the side-netting after slipping in behind Liam Lawlor; Connors flicked an almost certain goal from the path of an in-rushing Patrick Horgan; Eoin Murphy made a miraculous hook on Niall McCarthy bearing down on goal and Clinton Hennessy saved wonderfully from an in-rushing Michael Cussen.

At the other end, John Mullane was delivering another exhibition of routine greatness. Given the tightness of the contest, his tally of 0-7 from play over two games would constitute a momentous contribution. That Waterford lost him to a calf injury for extra-time, yet still prevailed, tells us something about their bench. Yet Cork lost their talisman for that period too, Ronan Curran limping to the dugout after putting in a heroic and dominant shift at centre-back. On reflection, Waterford should have closed the deal in normal time, Eoin Kelly spilling three successive wides in as many minutes with Cork — seemingly — on their knees. Their pressing game had Cork reduced to almost slavish service to O hAilpin on the edge of the ‘square’ and, though the giant Na Piarsaigh man won an ocean of ball, he was afforded little scope to use it. Curran and his opposite number, Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh, were proving the dominant personalities of the evening. Yet, with a 0-8 to 0-4 lead at half-time, Waterford had given their opponents what Walsh would later describe as “a mountain to climb”.

That half ended with Richie Foley lofting a sublime sideline cut over the bar and Cork making room for an injured Shane O’Neill in the dug-out. Psychologically, the teams looked to be heading to tea on different planets. Yet Cork duly climbed that mountain. Cussen and Paudie O’Sullivan (two) threw over splendid points within eight minutes of the resumption and, when Ben O’Connor settled over a free in the 46th minute, the equaliser beckoned. What followed danced somewhere between fluke and genius. O’Connor’s delivery floated in a low arc over the clearly startled Hennessy, snapping into the top left-hand corner of the rigging. Without warning, Waterford now faced crisis. Yet, they responded with four unanswered points, the pick of them an extraordinary, over-the-shoulder Mullane score from somewhere out the Nenagh road.

They led by a point with seven minutes remaining when Cussen torqued onto a ‘Fraggy’ Murphy off-load only to be roped to the ground by Foley. With Horgan off the field, John Gardiner took the penalty and Shane O’Sullivan deflected his drive over. The teams flooded in to catch their breaths at the end of 70 minutes and, it would seem, the Waterford dressing-room was tranquil as a health spa. “I was as calm as could be,” reflected Davy Fitz later. “The one thing I said to them was ‘I know we’re going to win’. I believed in them. I looked them all in the eyes. They told me they weren’t tired.” Browne’s huge free would give Waterford the tiniest advantage at the end of the first period, then Big Dan came blowing through. Running slingshot onto Eoin McGrath’s clever handpass, he found himself isolated maybe 25 yards from Donal Og Cusack’s goal.

In the honeyed season of ’07, we’d have fancied him to nail it. Now, in the waning years? Probably not. Yet Shanahan smelt blood and lashed a treacherous shot towards the Killinan-end goal. Cusack dived full length and managed to make contact, but not with sufficient purchase to keep it from the net. The Heavens convulsed. Thereafter, Cork chased in desperation, knowing that the cup was no longer reachable through points. Naughton dropped two deliveries into the Waterford square, Browne and ‘Brick’ tossing them back out to where they came from. Then, the kill shot. Naughton again, barreling in off the left flank this time and rasping a shot for redemption. A white blaze coming to meet him. A body hitting the deck. Up in the press gantry, we needed the prop of slow-mo to make sense of it. And there, lying in the wet grass, we saw old Tony Browne. Eyes blinking. Greatness frozen in a simple, beautiful picture.

SCORERS — Waterford: E Kelly 0-8 (0-6f), J Mullane 0-3, D Shanahan 1-0, R Foley (0-1s-l), S Walsh, B O’Halloran, K Moran,T Browne (0-1f) 0-1 each. Cork: B O’Connor 1-5 (1-5f), P O’Sullivan, C Naughton, J Gardiner (0-1f, 0-1 ’65′) 0-2 each, M Cussen, W Egan 0-1 each.

WATERFORD — C Hennessy 8, E Murphy 8, L Lawlor 7, N Connors 9, T Browne 9, M Walsh 8, D Prendergast 7, S O’Sullivan 7, R Foley 7, K Moran 7, S Molumphy 7, E Kelly 7, S Prendergast 6, J Mullane 8, S Walsh 7. Subs: B O’Halloran 7 for S Prendergast (49), M Shanahan 6 for Walsh (60), J Nagle 6 for Lawlor (67), D Shanahan 7 for Mullane (70), E McGrath 7 for O’Halloran (80), K McGrath for Moran (83).

CORK — D Og Cusack 8, S Murphy 8, E Cadogan 6, B Murphy 7, J Gardiner 7, R Curran 9, S O’Neill 8, T Kenny 6, C Naughton 7, B O’Connor 7, M Cussen 8, N McCarthy 7, K Murphy 6, A O hAilpin 7, P Horgan 5. Subs: R Ryan 7 for O’Neill (33 mins), P O’Sullivan 7 for Horgan (h-t), L O’Farrell 6 for K Murphy (65), W Egan 7 for Curran (70).

REF — B Gavin (Offaly)

Waterford finally find extra gear to take title

By DERMOT CROWE at Semple Stadium for the Irish Times newspaper

Sunday July 18 2010

WATERFORD 1-16 CORK 1-13

A NIGHT to remember for Waterford hurlers. Eviscerated in the All-Ireland final two years ago, they simply refuse to lie down and go. This performance was perhaps testament to virtues less advertised, not so much the thrilling hurling for which they are renowned, but more the principles of manliness and endurance and sheer obstinacy. They stood toe to toe with Cork in rainy conditions and came through a hard and physical match. Finely balanced for long stretches, it finally swung Waterford’s way in the second period of extra-time when Dan Shanahan scored arguably the most important goal of his life. And he has scored a few.

The occasion had a surreal edge, with the evening throw-in a factor in contributing to a modest crowd of 22,763. Waterford’s renaissance is rewarded with a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals. To be there as Munster champions almost two years after the horror of September 2008 is a testament to the players, but also the management team headed by Davy Fitzgerald. Waterford led by just a point when the endlessly intriguing Shanahan, in his latest reincarnation, turned back time with his goal in the second period of extra-time. His low strike slithered along the wet grass into the Cork goal. Eoin McGrath popped a neat pass and the space opened up but he still had plenty to do. Shanahan seemed to shoot a bit soon but the ball found the corner and Waterford were four points up. They would not relinquish a lead like that.

Michael Walsh was immense, carrying on from the huge match he had the first day, and he inspired those around him in defying the Cork attack. Cork started Michael Cussen on him but by the half-hour the huge Corkman had been moved. Waterford led by four points at half-time in normal time, and could have won at the close of the second half. But Cork will also look back on the game with regrets, shooting 13 wides to Waterford’s six. They had four goal chances in the first 35 minutes and failed to score any of them. Apart from the outstanding Walsh, the two corner-backs Eoin Murphy and Noel Connors played huge games, and Cork forwards again struggled for scores. Both starting corner-forwards, as in the drawn match, were substituted. Paudie O’Sullivan came on and scored two good points and set up another, but otherwise only Cussen of the forwards managed to register from play. Cussen, like Aisake O hAilpin, made some odd contributions but did not command. Cork, having gone through extra-time, now face a massive physical challenge next weekend; they will be praying for a kind draw.

Yet the breakthrough might have been theirs. The match, as usual, was on a knife-edge seven minutes from the end of normal time when Waterford coughed up a penalty. Richie Foley dragged down Cussen and John Gardiner stepped forward. Waterford led by a point. Gardiner shook his shoulders and rifled the ball hard and high. But Clinton Hennessy deflected the ball over. There were still chances to provide a winner but three efforts from Eoin Kelly all went wide and one from Cussen fell short. The most damning of those was the third from Kelly, a free in the first of two minutes of injury-time. Even in the greasy conditions he had the range, but the shot tailed to the right and Cork escaped. Extra-time just wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Waterford did all the early running and against a first half breeze built up a 0-8 to 0-4 lead with no wides. Cork gathered themselves at the interval and came out in higher gear. John Mullane, who failed to see out the match, had a chance to stretch Waterford’s four-point advantage, hitting the upright, and Cork punished it with three scores from O’Sullivan and Cussen. Eleven minutes in Cork took the lead for the first time with a goal from Ben O’Connor that won’t win any beauty contests but, nonetheless, it rallied his team. A free from 35m on the right side looked likely to put Cork level for the first time; instead the wet ball lobbed into the far corner of Hennessy’s goal.

Mullane, who scored three points from play, then raced down the sideline, pursued by Eoin Cadogan, and he sent over the point of the match. Shane Walsh, quiet until then, made a huge leap and pointed. Waterford were up by two and some of the steam had hissed out of Cork. Not quite. O’Connor had his fourth free and then Cathal Naughton, the only Cork scorer from play in the first half, finished exquisitely. Level again approaching the hour mark. From there to extra-time, though, there were only two more scores. Kelly scored his eighth point and then, with six minutes remaining, came the Cork penalty. Sean Og O hAilpin didn’t start after failing to recover from a hamstring injury and Shane O’Neill, who had been hurling well, went off injured before half-time. In the first half Cussen, now at left corner-forward, fielded over Connors, and Hennessy saved brilliantly. Earlier Connors cleared off the line from Patrick Horgan. O hAilpin hit the side-netting and Niall McCarthy looked poised to goal but was bottled up by Murphy. Misses like those are usually a harbinger of things to come, and they were.

Scorers — Waterford: E Kelly 0-8 (6f); J Mullane 0-3; D Shanahan 1-0; R Foley (lineball); B O’Halloran, S Walsh, K Moran, T Browne (1f) 0-1 each. Cork: B O’Connor 1-5 (1-5f); P O’Sullivan, C Naughton, J Gardiner (0-1 ’65′; 0-1 pen) 0-2 each; M Cussen, W Egan 0-1 each.

Waterford: C Hennessy; E Murphy, L Lawlor, N Connors; T Browne, M Walsh, D Prendergast; S O’Sullivan, R Foley; S Molumphy, K Moran, E Kelly; S Prendergast, J Mullane, S Walsh. Subs: B O’Halloran for Prendergast (48); M Shanahan for Walsh (60); J Nagle for Lawlor (67); D Shanahan for Mullane (inj 70); E McGrath for O’Halloran (80); K McGrath fro Moran (83); S Casey for M Shanahan (91).

Cork: D Óg Cusack; S Murphy, E Cadogan, B Murphy; J Gardiner, R Curran, S O’Neill; T Kenny, C Naughton; B O’Connor, M Cussen, N McCarthy; K Murphy, A Ó hAilpín, P Horgan. Subs: R Ryan for O’Neill (36); P O’Sullivan for Horgan (h/t); L O’Farrell for Murphy (65); W Egan for Curran (70);

Referee: B Gavin (Offaly)

Evergreen Browne stars on Déise day to remember

Waterford 1-16 Cork 1-13 aet

By Diarmuid O’Flynn for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, July 19, 2010

SINCE his debut senior season in 1991, Tony Browne has starred in many big occasions for Waterford hurlers. Never before, however, can he have produced a display as stellar as in this, the Munster final replay, in rain-splashed Semple Stadium on Saturday evening. Tony celebrated his 37th birthday on July 1, but in the dying seconds of extra time, he was the man outlasting everyone else, defying time, defying the elements, defying Cork. Just six days ago he scored the injury-time goal that earned Waterford this replay. Now, as Cork came forward in wave after wave of attack, themselves in search of an equalising goal, it was Browne who was stepping into man every threatened defensive breech.

Three clearances in one minute alone, the 88th of the game, the third of those a fine catch of yet another high centre as Cork looked to capitalise on their two giants up front, Aisake Ó hAilpín and Michael Cussen. The final say was the most crucial of all; showing great patience, fantastic control, Cork worked the ever-dangerous Cathal Naughton into position for a final shot. It was a rocket, hit right on the meat from well within goalscoring range, but it never reached its intended target as Tony put his body on the line and took the full force of the shot on his helmet. The ball rebounded to safety, and Cork were finally overcome.

“An amazing game,” said Browne. “And to go to extra-time — nip-and-tuck the whole way. It was an honour to be involved in that type of game and to see our younger lads working like that. They never gave up and kept going at it. There was just such an atmosphere there that we were never going to lose it. It was another Cork/Waterford classic, and I’m shattered. !But what a fantastic win for Waterford.” The pity is that this game, yet another terrific advert for hurling, didn’t have the day it deserved, didn’t have the crowd it deserved, didn’t have the respect it deserved from those who made the decision to play it on a Saturday at 7pm.

Not since 1983, (with Cork justifying their red-hot favourites tag and blowing Waterford away for the second year in a row), has there been such a pathetically small crowd (22,763) for what is one of the biggest annual events on the GAA calendar. What a slight it was to these two great warrior-laden teams to schedule this game for the shadows, to stage it at a time and on a day when interest was bound to be down. There was Tony Browne himself, there was John Mullane with three invaluable points from play; there was Eoin Kelly with eight; Shane Walsh, Kevin Moran, young Brian O’Halloran and Richie Foley from a sideline, all coming up with a score each.

There was Shane O’Sullivan with another magnificent midfield display, Brick Walsh with an almost superhuman performance at centre-back, keeper Clinton Hennessey with a point-blank save from Michael Cussen, corner-backs Noel Connors and Eoin Murphy with goal-saving interventions. And there was big Dan Shanahan, on only in extra-time but with the game-deciding goal, in the 83rd minute, beating Donal Óg Cusack with a fine shot to the corner after sublime work by Kelly and another sub, Eoin McGrath. “I was a bit pissed off that I didn’t get on near the end of normal time,” said Shanahan. “But I did my bit when I came on. I know where the net is — when I get my chance, I take it.”

For Cork, heroes also, in defence especially, none more so than Shane O’Neill and Ronan Curran. With both of those off the field for extra-time, however, O’Neill injured in the 35th minute, Curran in the 70th, it was a bridge too far for the Rebels. They worked so hard, created four clear goal-scoring chances (including a penalty won by Cussen, John Gardiner’s shot deflected over by Shane O’Sullivan), but 13 wides, against just six by Waterford, hurt their cause. Ultimately, however, what cost Cork, what saved Waterford, was Tony Browne. Cork came up against Father Timeless.

Quick summary of the game: At half-time it was Waterford leading by four points, 0-8 to 0-4, Cork having had seven wides to none for the Déise, missed three goal-scoring opportunities; second half, and courtesy of a freaky Ben O’Connor goaled free from 21m in the 46th minute, out on the right touchline, a searing shot that streaked past Hennessey, it was Cork in the lead for the first time (1-8 to 0-9) and looking more likely winners. Four points in a row, however, showed the true character in this Waterford team, and as the game came to a close, they were now the ones looking most likely. So it proved, in extra time with Dan Shanahan’s goal, Tony Browne’s defensive heroics.

Last word to Browne: “It’s a great feeling now because we have a bit of silverware on the table, but we’ve done this before. There are some great teams waiting in the wings, we’re just hoping to get to another All-Ireland final and maybe do ourselves proud this time. There’s a hard road ahead.” Certainly, but what is they say about old dogs?

CORK: D Óg Cusack; S Murphy, E Cadogan, B Murphy; J Gardiner (0-2, 0-1 penalty, 0-1 65), R Curran, S O’Neill; T Kenny, C Naughton (0-2); B O’Connor (1-5f), M Cussen (0-1), N McCarthy; K Murphy, A Ó hAilpín, P Horgan.

Subs: R Ryan for O’Neill (35), P O’Sullivan (0-2) for Horgan (half-time), L O’Farrell for K Murphy (66), L McLoughlin (0-1) for Curran (end of normal time, injured),

WATERFORD: C Hennessy; E Murphy, L Lawlor, N Connors; T Browne (0-1f), M Walsh, D Prendergast; S O’Sullivan, R Foley (0-1 sideline); S Prendergast, K Moran (0-1), E Kelly (0-8, 0-6f); S Molumphy, J Mullane (0-3), S Walsh (0-1).

Subs: B O’Halloran (0-1) for S Prendergast (49), M Shanahan for S Walsh (61), J Nagle for Lawlor (68), D Shanahan (1-0) for Mullane (end of normal time, injured), E McGrath for Molumphy (80).

Referee: B Gavin (Offaly)