Cork Claim Opening Night Points
Allianz Hurling League Round 1
Cork 3-17 Waterford 0-18
(Report from gaa.ie)
Cork made the perfect start to life under new manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday night, where three first half goals helped the Rebels to an eight-point win over Waterford.
Man of the match Conor Lehane exemplified everything that was good about Cork's performance, scoring seven points from play in a spell binding display.
Photo shows action from last night's game, courtesy Denis O'Flynn - for more see Photo Gallery
Cork trailed early on but they then hit 1-6 without reply in 13 first half minutes to turn the game on its head, with Lehane scoring three of those points and full-forward Paudie O'Sullivan pouncing for a fine goal.
Two more goals followed just before the half hour mark, Cathal Naughton finishing a brilliant Cork move and then O'Sullivan taking advantage of some slack Déise defending to give the home side an unassailable 3-8 to 0-5 lead.
Although Waterford opened the second half with three points in a row and Cork were struggling in midfield, Michael Ryan's charges never closed the gap to anything less than the five points they trailed by after 52 minutes, when Paudie O'Mahony struck two frees in quick succession.
Lehane, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín and Patrick Horgan ended any hopes of a Waterford comeback with three quickfire scores. Lehane, though, stole the show and guaranteed himself the man of the match award when he hit three superb points from play in the final 10 minutes.
Cork looked nervous in the opening minutes in front of the bumper crowd in Páirc Uí Rinn and it was Waterford who made the better start, with Paul O'Brien, Kevin Moran and Martin O'Neill putting the visitors three points clear inside the first five minutes.
Cork soon settled, however, with 19-year-old Lehane showing well at wing-forward, and three points inside 10 minutes from the Midleton prodigy helped the Rebels to take control of the game.
Barry-Murphy's fingerprints were all over some of Cork's eye-catching forward play, with Lehane, Pa Cronin and Ben O'Connor in particular causing the Déise defence huge problems.
O'Connor and Cronin combined well to send Paudie O'Sullivan through for Cork's first goal on 20 minutes, before Naughton breached the Waterford goal for a second time seven minutes later, again after a sweet move down the left flank.
The game was effectively over when O'Sullivan, the Cork full-forward, beat his man to a high ball in front of the small square and finished neatly past Ian O'Regan, the Waterford goalkeeper.
Waterford hit two points just before the break, through Paudie O'Mahony and O'Neill, but they still went in at the break trailing by 10 points, 3-8 to 0-7.
Waterford manager Ryan must have given his players an earful at half-time because they were certainly far more lively after the resumption of play, hitting the first three points of the second half.
The Cork forwards weren't getting anywhere near the freedom they were allowed earlier in the game and debutant Darren Sweetnam was struggling with the pace of the game, forcing Barry-Murphy to make a change in midfield, with the experienced Tom Kenny coming on as a sub.
Ó hAilpín, making his first start in a Cork jersey since August 2010, slotted over a fine point to settle any Cork nerves before Lehane enraptured the home crowd with a string of points in the closing quarter to seal a hugely satisfying win for the Rebels.
Cork: Donal Óg Cusack, Brian Murphy, Stephen McDonnell, Shane O'Neill, John Gardiner, Ross Cashman, William Egan, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín (0-1), Darren Sweetnam (0-1), Conor Lehane (0-7), Pa Cronin (0-1), Cathal Naughton (1-1), Patrick Horgan (0-4), Paudie O'Sullivan (2-1), Ben O'Connor (0-1)
Subs used: T Kenny for Sweetnam (49 mins), L McLoughlin for Gardiner (55), L O'Farrell for Naughton (64), B Corry for Lehane (68)