JBM's Cork rekindle vintage era to destroy Déise
NHL DIVISION 1A
SINCE his appointment last August, the expectation on Leeside has been that the legendary Jimmy Barry-Murphy would be the man to bring everyone together - players and supporters.
That was immediately evident on both fronts on Saturday evening when Cork produced a win over Waterford (3-17 to 0-18) in front of the biggest attendance (7,356) seen in Páirc Uí Rinn since Cork and Kerry played the opening game of the 2003 football League under lights.
Although the crowd was due in part to a well-attended colleges curtain-raiser, there was still a feel-good vibe about Cork hurling not seen in years.
"We're looking for support," said Barry-Murphy. "We asked the public during the week to come out and support us, but the public only respond if you put in performances."
Cork's three first-half goals were the difference between the sides, but that misrepresents the full story. Those goals set the tone and although Waterford came back in the third quarter, they never threatened the result.
The game was devoid of any real physicality and Cork were able to get all but one point of their tally from play. The night, though, belonged to Conor Lehane, a player whom Cork have been hanging their hopes on for the future. He scored seven points from play, most of which were brilliant.
"He was excellent," said Barry-Murphy. "It wouldn't take a genius to pick him. He's a major talent in Cork."
One of the big concerns for Waterford was how some of the holes which Tipperary exposed in last year's Munster final re-opened in their defence. An injury to Noel Connors left them with an inexperienced full-back line and they were taken apart in the first half.
Waterford went 17 minutes without a score while Cork, who were creating huge space in their forward line, buried them with three goals in 10 minutes, two from Paudie O'Sullivan and one from Cathal Naughton -- the first two goals reminiscent of the kind of scores they mined at their peak in the middle of the last decade.
"The goals really settled the game," said Barry-Murphy. Waterford outscored Cork by 0-7 to 0-2 in the 15-minute period after the break but they were always chasing the match.