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Waterford set up Galway showdown

Cork 0-20 Waterford 4-19

By Declan Bogue

Genius makes its own rules, said one learned hurling man after the second compelling semi-final that pairs Waterford - 58 years without an All-Ireland hurling title - against Galway, who have not had Liam MacCarthy as a resident in 29 years on September 3rd.

But, genius is often only a hair's breadth away from madness. And while Austin Gleeson's goal on 59 minutes was as close to a Lionel Messi dribble as can be achieved on a hurling field, the reigning Young Hurler and senior Hurler of the Year for 2016 could yet miss the All-Ireland final for pulling the faceguard off Cork's Luke Meade midway through the first half.

With the Central Competitions Control Committee setting a precedent for this kind of incident in a televised game with the Diarmuid Connolly incident earlier in the summer, there are enormous implications ahead.

Waterford manager Derek McGrath has taken incredible and misguided criticism for trying to unsettle the cosy hurling consensus by employing a sweeper system in the sport. Such a move upsets the purists who believe it betrays a lack of ambition.

The tallies suggest different. They took Kilkenny for four goals and they did the same here against Kieran Kingston's side.

McGrath was without his regular sweeper Tadhg de Búrca - who lost his appeal midweek against a suspension earned through interfering with an opponent's helmet - but drafted in Darragh Fives into the role and he played like he was born for it. However, he will be praying no retrospective action is taken now against Austin Gleeson.

Asked about it afterwards, he responded: "I've only been made aware of it, the lady asked me a question on RTE about that as well. I'd got no heads up in terms of incidents or otherwise… I'd normally be as candid as anything, I just didn't see it. I have no account of that in terms of what happened or otherwise."

Waterford had lost in the Munster semi-final to the same opposition and made a vow to themselves, according to McGrath: "There would be a good level of aggression and the approach would be, that we weren't going to go gently into the night. We were going to show a good bit of courage and perseverance and stick with it, to be up to the pitch of it."

They showed enough in a first half that was slow to get going. An early tone was set on 11 minutes when Shane Bennett squared a pass over the teenager Mark Coleman's head to the lethal Michael 'Brick' Walsh who drilled a shot under goalkeeper Anthony Nash for the first goal of the game.

That gave them a platform as they teams drew level four times in the opening half, the Deise going in at half-time one point up 1-7 to 0-9.

Cork couldn't squeeze enough out of their forward line although Patrick Horgan was on fire from dead ball and open play with seven first half points. Shane Kingston started lively and faded out while, because of Waterford's sweeper system, the inside men of Alan Cadogan and Luke Meade were starved of ball into space.

Where Cork were good, it came about because of moves generated from their own puckout.

Nash was finding Mark Ellis with regularity and the spare man had time to drill deliveries to Horgan who was tapping over nicely. With 20 minutes left Cork had Damian Cahalane dismissed for a second yellow but rallied to hit three consecutive points, opening up a three point gap.

Then came the Aussie show. On 58 minutes, he robbed Christopher Joyce of possession before gathering at the corner of the Hill and Cusack Stand. He squared to the onrushing Jamie Barron who calmly stroked past Nash.

Conor Gleeson added another point in the next play, before Maurice Shanahan recycled possession out around the middle, Aussie took possession and despite having the opportunity to tap over or dish off the ball a few times, kept going until he was all alone in front of goal.

A quick re-adjustment of the hands and the ball was flicked to the net. From being two down, they were now six up.

A further goal was added by Barron in injury-time, again displaying huge composure under considerable pressure.

And now, time for Waterford and Galway to lose the run of themselves.

Waterford: O'Keeffe; S Fives, Coughlan, Connors; Lyons, A Gleeson 1-2, Philip Mahony; Barron 2-1, Gleeson 0-1; Moran 0-3, Pauric Mahony 0-8 5f, Walsh 1-1; Shane Bennett, J Dillon, D Fives 0-1

Subs: M Shanahan 0-1 for Dillon (45 mins); B O'Halloran 0-1 for S Bennett (55); C Dunford for Pauric Mahony (68); P Curran for K Bennett (72).

Yellow cards: K Bennett (30)

Red cards: C Gleeson (68)

Cork: Nash; McDonnell, Cahalane Spillane; Joyce, Ellis, Coleman; Cooper, Fitzgibbon 0-1 (SL); Harnedy 0-1, Lehane 0-2, Kingston 0-1; Cadogan 0-2, Horgan 0-2, 7f, L Meade.

Subs: Cahalane for Meade (half time); O'Farrell 0-1 for Cadogan (65); Kearney for (65).

Yellow cards: Cahalane (26, 52), Kingston (61), Harnedy (65)

Red cards: Cahalane (52), Horgan (68)

Referee: James Owens (Wexford)

Attendance: 72,022.

Belfast Telegraph

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