Allianz HL D1 Final: Waterford win title
Allianz Hurling League Division One Final
Waterford 4-20 Cork 1-23
By Dermot Keyes at FBD Semple Stadium
A fourth Allianz Hurling League title for Waterford – and a third this century – leaves the Déisemen in rude health two weeks out from their Munster Championship opener against Tipperary.
A superlative performance by Stephen Bennett, who clocked up 2-11 in front of a 18,930-strong crowd, saw Liam Cahill’s side deliver on the form which had made them slight favourites heading into this fixture.
At the break, the more clinical Deisemen led by 2-10 to 0-10 after Cork had opened the scoring through the ever-reliable Patrick Horgan after three minutes.
Carthach Daly and the dynamic Jack Prendergast replied for Waterford before Conor Lehane restored parity by the sixth minute.
Sixty seconds later, Stephen Bennett landed the first of five opening half frees, followed by Patrick Curran’s fine effort after eight minutes. Bennett was next to score with a 12th minute free before Horgan converted his second dead ball on the quarter hour.
Waterford goalkeeper Shaun O’Brien dealt commendably with two high balls as the evening sun streamed from beyond the Killinan End before Bennett converted his third free after 17.
Two points inside a minute by Shane Barrett and Séamus Harnedy reduced Cork’s arrears to the minimum before Stephen Bennett found his range with another free. Horgan (a free) and Darragh Fitzgibbon were next to score before a brace of Waterford goals ultimately steered them towards the title.
Patrick Curran, played in on goal by Jack Prendergast and Michael Kiely, slammed the ball beyond Patrick Collins after 26 minutes. Seconds later, Neil Montgomery’s pass picked out the onrushing Stephen Bennett who made no mistake with his well stuck shot. Waterford led by 2-7 to 0-7 and were good for it.
The sides traded three points each between then and the break with Cork left rueing Shane Barrett’s 28th minute goal chance, which Shaun O’Brien batted away, only for Alan Connolly to strike thin air as the ball came into his path.
While Cork never gave up the ghost during the second half, the goal they needed to kickstart their bid for a first League crown in 24 years materialised far too late in the game to influence the outcome.
Waterford maintained a six-point advantage for most of the second period but that lead was reduced to just four points by substitute Shane Kingston with just six minutes of normal time remaining.
The next score simply had to go the Rebels’ way. Yet Waterford responded in the best possible manner through Dessie Hutchinson’s well taken goal following a rampaging forward run by Carthach Daly.
Bennett’s second goal in the 48th minute was sublime, seizing on a misplaced short pass before darting into the red zone to send the sliotar zipping below the lunging Collins.
Cork appeared far too reliant on seeking out Patrick Horgan and certainly worked the ball into several decent scoring areas without making it count. But Robbie O’Flynn at least rounded off a fine individual showing with a stoppage time goal for the Rebels.
By contrast, Waterford’s greater edge inside the 21-metre line proved the winning of the contest. And with three of the starting six forwards finding the net bringing Waterford’s 2022 total of League goals to 22, Liam Cahill’s men will head into the Championship as the side most likely to challenge Limerick’s recent domination.
Scorers for Waterford: Stephen Bennett (2-11; 0-9f), Patrick Curran (1-3), Jack Prendergast (0-3), Dessie Hutchinson (1-0), Neil Montgomery (0-1), Carthach Daly (0-1), DJ Foran (0-1).
Scorers for Cork: Patrick Horgan (0-10; 0-8f, 0-1 65), Robbie O’Flynn (1-3), Shane Kingston (0-3), Conor Lehane (0-2), Shane Barrett (0-2), Darragh Fitzgibbon (0-1), Tim O’Mahony (0-1), Séamus Harnedy (0-1).
Waterford: Shaun O'Brien; Conor Gleeson, Conor Prunty, Shane McNulty; Jack Fagan, Tadhg de Búrca, Carthach Daly; Darragh Lyons, Calum Lyons; Neil Montgomery, Jack Prendergast, Patrick Curran; Dessie Hutchinson, Stephen Bennett, Michael Kiely.
Subs: Kieran Bennett for Carthach Daly (Blood, 55-56), Shane Bennett for Michael Kiely (57), Kieran Bennett for Neil Montgomery (64), Pauric Mahony for Carthach Daly (66), Billy Power for Patrick Curran (69), DJ Foran for Jack Prendergast (72).
Cork: Patrick Collins; Seán O’Donoghue, Damien Cahalane, Ciarán Joyce; Tim O’Mahony, Mark Coleman, Robert Downey; Darragh Fitzgibbon, Ger Millerick; Robbie O’Flynn, Shane Barrett, Séamus Harnedy; Conor Lehane, Alan Connolly, Patrick Horgan.
Subs: Shane Kingston for Alan Connolly (HT), Conor Cahalane for Séamus Harnedy (43), Jack O’Connor for Conor Lehane (48), Sam Quirke for Ger Mellerick (57), Mark Keane for Shane Barrett (66).
Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway)