Conor Lehane impressed as Cork beat Waterford by 3-17 to 0-18 at Pairc Ui Rinn.
The teenager struck seven points from play, giving returning
manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy a glimpse of the future of Cork hurling in his first
league match back at the helm. A crowd of 7,356 witnessed the
Waterford started best with the opening three points but Cork
eventually found their rhythm and goals from Paudie O'Sullivan (2) and Cathal
Naughton propelled them into a 3-8 to 0-7 interval lead.
entertaining rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann, the action got underway and
Tallow's Paul O'Brien popped the Decies ahead with a lovely score from play
inside the first minute. The Rebels had an immediate opportunity to equalise but
Pat Horgan's free went wide.
Centre back Kevin Moran drilled over an
excellent point from distance and good defending from Darragh Fives kept Cork at
bay as they threatened a third-minute goal. Seamus Prendergast was one of four
late additions to the Waterford starting team (with Noel Connors, Aidan Kearney,
Shane O'Sullivan and Maurice Shanahan all forced to cry off at the eleventh
hour) and he was instrumental in Moran's score and also in the next one from
league debutant Martin O'Neill, who duly made it 0-3 to no score after ten
Horgan hit another wide for the hosts from a free before
registering their first point of the night from open play after six minutes. Pa
Cronin placed Conor Lehane for the Leesiders' second score and the wing forward
was on hand to level the scores with his second minor of the match: 0-3 each
after eleven minutes.
Michael Walsh and Shane Walsh both caused
consternation in the Rebel rearguard but no score was forthcoming until Ben
O'Connor tipped the sliothar over the bar to edge the Cork men in front for the
first time on the stroke of 15 minutes.
Iggy O'Regan made a good save to
deny Cathal Naughton before the outstanding Lehane benefited from good play by
full forward Paudie O'Sullivan to fire over the hosts' fifth successive point.
And O'Sullivan - brother of 'The Rock' - claimed the next score himself to make
it 0-6 to 0-3 after 19 minutes.
A minute later, the Rebels found the net
through O'Sullivan, who was picked out by O'Connor - 1-6 to 0-3 and what a
comeback! Paudie Mahony hit points from a free and from play to reduce the
arrears but young Darren Sweetman then clipped over his first-ever league point
to leave the home team in front by 1-7 to 0-5. Horgan added another instantly
for Jimmy Barry-Murphy's rampant side.
It was all Cork and Naughton
played a one-two with Lahane before despatching to the net in the 26th minute:
2-8 to 0-5.
On the half hour, it got even worse for Michael Ryan's men:
Paudie O'Sullivan had all the time in the world as he placed his second major to
the corner of the net to increase the gap to twelve points with five minutes
remaining in the first half.
An O'Neill free and a Mahony point from play
put some respectability on the scoreboard before the break.
clubman Jamie Nagle closed the margin further with the first score of the second
period, 3-8 to 0-8, and Dunhill's Shane Casey moved onto his stronger right-hand
side to clip over his first of the night. Waterford were eight adrift but had
scored four in a row either side of the short whistle.
A Martin O'Neill
free - his third point - kept the scoreboard ticking over for the visitors but
former Nottingham Forest triallist Naughton burst through to reply with a facile
Cork point in the 42nd minute.
Michael Walsh supplied Waterford's fifth
wide off his left-hand side as they continued to battle gallantly. Willie Egan
was having an excellent game in the Cork defence but his foul culminated in a
20-metre free, which O'Neill tapped over to close the margin to seven, 3-9 to
When Cronin drilled over an exquisite point it meant that all six
of Cork's starting forwards had scored from play; Prendergast replied instantly
for the away team. Waterford came with two more points to move within five but
Lehane proved that he's one for the future with his fourth point from play, 3-11
And a huge roar went up when - 16 years after making his
intercounty debut - Sean Og O Halpin knocked over a 55th-minute point. Waterford
needed a goal but they never looked like fashioning one and another Horgan free
extended the Rebels' lead to eight again.
Twenty-eleven minor Gavin
O'Brien signalled his introduction from the bench with a great Waterford point
twelve minutes from the end and Fives made another telling intervention in the
Decies defence to repel Horgan as the mist started to descend across the Cork
But UCC Fresher Lehane capped a fine individual display with
his fifth point and substitute Eoin McGrath replied with a Waterford point in
the 28th minute before - amazingly - Midleton teenager Lehane popped over his
sixth point from near the sideline.
Another teenager, Waterford sub
O'Brien, grabbed his second point three minutes from time and again it was
Lehane who answered, floating over his seventh point of the match. What a
sensational performance from the No.10, who rightly got a rousing reception when
he was called ashore before the end!
Horgan stretched the gap to nine on
the stroke of full time, 3-17 to 0-17. Tallow clubman Ryan responded with an
injury-time score for the valiant losers.