Cork and Waterford in the Munster semi final. Cork prevailed. Now playing it again in the All Ireland semi final. They say you can’t step in the same river twice? Have previous encounters any bearing on Sunday’s outcome? Only for the supporters perhaps, fired up at the thought of seeing the famous blood and bandage of the Cork jersey back in Croke Park in an All Ireland semi final. For the Deise perhaps their greatest chance to win Liam in the modern era.
The hurling cognoscenti reach for the rewind button for clips of the titanic battles of the 2000s to whet the appetite. 2003 and 2004 the legends in full flight.. Dan Shanahan in full flight, Paul Flynn with his top spinner Bamboozling Donal Óg or his unstoppable pull. Joe Deane’s frees. The exploits of Sean Óg, John Gardiner, the O’Connors. The irrepressible John Mullane. Then it was Cork who were the arch exponents of the short puc out and close passing interplay, now Waterford have taken their clothes and altered them to suit.
From the Munster semi final we have more knowns than unknowns. Can Austin Gleeson play a more influential role that he did the last time? Will Ellis and Coleman exert the same influence across the half back line. What of a fully fit Conor Lehane?
First Half Fizz
The first half was a tremendous shoot out with nothing between the teams at halftime, 0-10 apiece it finished.
Second Half Shutout
Cork limited the Deise to 1-5 in the second period. If they can hold Waterford to a similar tally in either half on Sunday it will likely be the winning of the game.
Sweeper or Man to Man
The last day the sides lined out mano a mano and that contributed to an absorbing tie. Since then Waterford have used their more tactical approach as needed, last year they proved they had the tactical flexibility to go either way. Which will we see on Sunday?
Experience v Tradition
Cork have the tradition to call upon but in terms of miles on the clock the Cork unit is inexperienced compared to Waterford which has been working away under Derek McGrath for four years. They have a system in place and know each other inside out. Cork on the other hand are a fresh faced outfit who have surprised even their own most fervent supporters with an exciting attacking brand of hurling. Tradition counts for nothing. It may add to the pressure on the players but the management under Kieran Kingston will have plans in place to deal with that.
What the Rivals say:
Galway captain David Burke tells Paul Keane in the Examiner he fancies Cork to prevail:
“There’ll be nothing in that game either, it will just depend on the likes of Austin Gleeson, Kevin Moran, all of Waterford’s big players, but I think Cork have a better balanced team, on paper, but it will be an interesting game, nonetheless.
“Tadhg de Burca; if he is missing that will affect the balance of their team a bit more, but I think it could be in Cork’s favour going into the game. Croke Park suits their type of hurling, as well. I don’t mind who we get, but we will have to work really hard whoever we are playing against and we are excited to be in it and we realise we need to get the job done.”
Tactical Take, Tadhg or no Tadhg
The key question from everyone ahead of the game was whether Tadhg De Burca will have his suspension upheld or not. If not has the uncertainty disrupted the Deise plans. If it is upheld who will feature in their sweeper’s role. And what of the impact on Cork?
Micheal Moynihan writing in the Examiner:
“Remember Waterford manager Derek McGrath’s comments last Sunday: ‘Each game is planned differently. You mightn’t see it, but it’s actually planned completely differently.’ Cork will have their own approach to the game based on the energy and athleticism of those operating in the middle of the field. Waterford will know that, of course, and plan accordingly. Given they’ve been playing their system for the last four years, advantage Waterford.”