It is still hard to catch one’s breath after the conclusion of yet another captivating chapter in the Cork versus Waterford book. This time the victory was for the Déise in arguably the biggest game of all between the two. Waterford were emphatic as the game approached the final straight.
They took advantage to the extreme as they outscored 3-8 to 0-5 in the final quarter. Cork did not play to their potential but had a few admirable performers. Waterford put in another terrific team performance where numbers 1-15 excelled over the 70 minutes.
Ranking five performers from today’s game was a very tough task. Wateford could point to ten performers at least who played to their best while a handful of Cork players really stood up. In narrowing it down to five, here is who we went for;
5. Austin Gleeson
His inclusion may be criticised and some may say that he only started playing when Cork went down to 14 men, but Austin Gleeson showed leadership when it mattered most today. Gleeson was quiet in the first half and may even count himself lucky to have remained on the field. But with the game in the balance in the second half, the Hurler of the Year stood up. His assist and goal were the two moments that fully swung the game in the Déise’s favour.
4. Patrick Horgan
The Cork man did not finish the game due to a red card, but Horgan really stood up for Cork today and showed true leadership. He scored 0-10 of Cork’s first 0-13 and scored a monster long range point from play to put Cork one point ahead as the game approached the final quarter. Waterford took charge after that, but the Glen Rovers man can only be complimeted for his efforts, and may see his efforts awarded with an All-Star this winter.
3. Daragh Fives
People will say he was marking nobody in playing as a sweeper, but nobody can underestimate the size of the boots that Daragh Fives had to fill. Tadgh de Búrca’s absence meant Waterford had a major void to fill in their defence and Fives was given the maligned sweeper role and it must be said that he played it to perfection. He covered the ground at the back effectively and caught some exceptional high balls as Cork’s attack took the route one approach.
2. Kevin Moran
Moran showed why he is the captain of this Waterford team with a brillaint first half display. The De La Salle man was everywhere for the first 45 minutes of the game and put Waterford in the position that enabled them to kick on after 50 minutes. Hitting 0-4 from play, Moran really drove the Déise on from the middle of the field, with lung busting runs and finishing of the highest order.
1. Jamie Barron
Back as far as 2015, this man was labelled as the most impressive GAA player of that year. Little credit fell at his footsteps back then as he covered every blade of grass in Thurles or Croke Park and provided the transitional link between Waterford’s defence and attack in their new system. 2016 saw Barron receive an All-Star and 2017 could see him claim Hurler of the Year. His finishing has improved and his instinctive play has seen him score vital goals in 2017.
As said above a Top 5 was very hard to pick. On the Cork side Daragh Fitzgibbon was outstanding in the second while Conor Gleeson, Noel Connors and Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh were also on top of their game. In spite of these rankings, it was very much a team effort as Waterford came out on top against their Munster rivals.