Job done, onto the next one for Waterford as Prunty and Bennett steer the ship 2 months ago

Job done, onto the next one for Waterford as Prunty and Bennett steer the ship

Waterford 4-20 Cork 1-23

Ciaran Joyce gives a pass that the Cork crowd hate with a passion.

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It's all oohs and aahs and aw Jesus,' 'would ya stop the Jesus messing?' The ball is floating across the goals in such a precarious way that, somewhere in the country, there's an under-12 coach on the verge of a heart attack. Sean O'Donoghue collects it and its cardiac arrest averted but, as a Cork supporter, and as far as hearts go, you wouldn't want to have a weak one.

There's only 30 seconds gone in the second half but, of all things, that was the last thing the Cork crowd needed.

Because after a first half where their team's eye-of-the-needle passing game didn't even find the needle, never mind the eye of it, they were looking for a bit more let the ball do the work from here on in. It was the opposite of that though, and, in this National Hurling League final, this was more like the eye of the storm.

It was sunny on the far sideline though, where Liam Cahill was free-from all distress and, even from the other side of the field, you could see him over there rubbing his hands. He liked the look of it from minute one.

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Calum Lyons ran onto the throw-in like a man who's been missing this and, before Cork knew where they were, he had sent such an inviting ball into the Semple Stadium sun that if you were watching closely, seconds later you'd have seen Stephen Bennett on his bike. He was only resting the last two weeks.

Waterford were up and running, just like they were against Wexford and, if they'd been watching that game, Cork would have known this was going to be difficult.

And that was exactly what it was.

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Patrick Horgan scored their first point of the game, a typically tidy effort from open play but there was no time to admire it. Tadhg De Búrca thundered into him as if to say that'll be the last one and again, that's exactly what it was. With Conor Prunty shadowing his every move, Cork's talisman didn't score another from open play.

Instead it was all Neil Montgomery and Stephen Bennett and Patrick Curran and last but not least, that man Carthach Daly. He's only a chap, not long gone 21 but with his straight-line runs, with his head down and with his steely determination, the young midfielder typified the exuberance, the energy and enthusiasm that Waterford had but Cork didn't.

You'd wonder if it was tougher for Rebel supporters or defenders because, with Waterford's high-pressing forwards not so much breathing as panting down their back's necks, this wasn't getting any easier.

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And it only got tougher after 25 minutes when, with Michael Kiely acting the target-man, Patrick Curran was set up for a goal that, in its execution and in its class, was like a carbon copy of the winner he scored all those years ago in the 2013 All-Ireland minor final. The Dungarvan man is fulfilling now the potential he showed back then.

He was disgusted when his second goal was ruled out but Waterford didn't need it and he scored three more points anyway. Save it for the summer.

Dessie Hutchinson and the brilliant Stephen Bennett finished Cork off and while, for them, Tim O'Mahony was exceptional, it was too much of a one man show. John Kiely and Paul Kinnerk had seen enough and from their seats in the stand, they were making a quiet exit with five minutes to go.

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There was nothing quiet about Waterford though, despite Conor Prunty's calls for their supporters to be calm and patient.  This was the same group of supporters who, let's not forget, had been told moments earlier not to run onto the pitch.

Deep down, Prunty knows his audience though and while the fans are excited, the team are calm. Stephen Bennett showed that much when, with photographers looking to snap him going wild at the final whistle, it was just a raised fist and away we go.

Job done. Onto the next one.

Cork

P Collins; S O’Donoghue, D Cahalane, C Joyce; T O’Mahony (0-1), M Coleman, R Downey; D Fitzgibbon (0-1), G Millerick, R O’Flynn (1-3), S Barrett (0-2), S Harnedy (0-1); C Lehane (0-3), A Connolly, P Horgan (0-10, 0-8f, 0-1 65)

Subs: Shane Kingston (0-3) for Alan Connolly (HT), Jack O'Connor for Conor Lehane (47), Mark Keane for Shane Barrett (65)

Waterford

S O’Brien; C Gleeson, C Prunty, S McNulty; J Fagan, T de Burca, C Daly (0-1) D Lyons, C Lyons; N Montgomery (0-1), J Prendergast (0-3), P Curran (1-3) D Hutchinson (1-0), S Bennett (2-11, 0-9f), M Kiely (0-1)

Shane Bennett for Michael Kiely (57) Kieran Bennett for Neil Montgomery (61), Pauric Mahony for Carthach Daly (65), Billy Power for Patrick Curran (70) DJ Foran for Prendergast (70+1)