Rebel snipers put Déise down to Division 1B

NHL Division 1A Relegation Play-Off

Cork 0-21

Waterford 1-13

Tomás McCarthy

A depleted Waterford went down fighting at a perishing Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday. Four late points sealed Cork’s place in Division 1A for 2019.

Kevin Moran (illness) and Austin Gleeson (ankle injury) were marked absent for the visitors. Noel Connors and Tadhg De Burca stifled the inside threat but they shipped 0-12 further out. Minus those big leaders, Cork controlled the middle third and hurt Waterford from long range. Man of the match Bill Cooper hit four points and supplied three assists. Partner Darragh Fitzgibbon and deep lying centre forward Dean Brosnan scored three each. Brosnan’s replacement Daniel Kearney confirmed their top flight status with two singles.

Maurice Shanahan received a straight red within a minute of his introduction after an off the ball altercation with Tim O’Mahony. A ninth dismissal in the last six meetings between these counties. Despite the numerical disadvantage, the away side narrowed the gap to two. Thomas Ryan, Stephen Bennett and Jake Dillon kept them in the survival hunt before that late Cork flurry.

Conor Gleeson didn’t start either as he found himself snowed in on Sunday morning. The Rebels, stung by four losses in a row, got a five-point head start. Waterford didn’t score until 21st minute via a Patrick Curran penalty.

Jamie Barron registered their first from play three minutes into injury time and Michael Kearney followed it up (0-10 to 1-4). Waterford finished the half with six wides. Curran had a goal disallowed and Colin Dunford tested Anthony Nash.

In the third quarter, Tom Devine overcooked a pass across goal to Stephen Bennett before he crashed a shot off the post. Nash tipped over the first of three Bennett points.

Cooper’s fourth left John Meyler’s men 0-17 to 1-9 ahead entering the last ten minutes. The leaders wobbled when Waterford struck three without reply. Cork stayed cool and found the extra space. Two Kearney white flags (the first from a pinpoint Nash pass), a wonder point by Patrick Horgan near the sideline and a Colm Spillane shoulder and score ended their league on a high.

It was the second time that the Déise suffered relegation to Division 1B under Derek McGrath’s watch. The beaten manager remained upbeat. “I thought it was one of our best performances of the league. We had grounds to feel that we could have been ahead at half time, created a lot of goal scoring chances. We were a little more conventional in our approach. We were having a look at that today ahead of June 17.”

Demotion to the second tier isn’t as damaging as 2014 in his view. “In an overall sense, having two relegations on your CV doesn’t bother me. It would bother me if the lads were hurt by it. Psychologically, there’s no scars in our dressing room. There’s a sense of pride that maybe we’re going in the right direction. We’ve put three good performances back to back, two results and one going against us. That’s the general feeling.”

Scorers for Cork: Patrick Horgan 0-5 (3fs), Bill Cooper 0-4, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Dean Brosnan 0-3 each, Daniel Kearney 0-2, Michael Cahalane, Alan Cadogan, Conor Lehane, Colm Spillane 0-1 each.

Scorers for Waterford: Pauric Mahony 0-4 (2fs), Patrick Curran 1-0 (1-0 pen), Stephen Bennett 0-3, Thomas Ryan 0-2, Tadhg De Burca, Jamie Barron, Michael Kearney, Jake Dillon 0-1 each.

Cork: Anthony Nash; Sean O’Donoghue, Eoin Cadogan, Colm Spillane; Christopher Joyce, Tim O’Mahony, Mark Coleman; Darragh Fitzgibbon, Bill Cooper; Seamus Harnedy, Dean Brosnan, Conor Lehane; Alan Cadogan, Patrick Horgan, Michael Cahalane.

Subs: Luke Meade for Cahalane, Darren Browne for O’Mahony, Daniel Kearney for Brosnan, Robbie O’Flynn for Alan Cadogan.

Waterford: Stephen O’Keeffe; Shane Fives, Barry Coughlan, Noel Connors; Kieran Bennett, Tadhg De Burca, Philip Mahony; Jamie Barron, Colin Dunford; Stephen Bennett, Pauric Mahony, Michael Kearney; Patrick Curran, Tom Devine, Thomas Ryan.

Subs: Conor Gleeson for Kieran Bennett, Maurice Shanahan for Kearney, Brian O’Halloran for Dunford, Jake Dillon for Curran, Michael Walsh for Ryan.

Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)