Cork hunt for goals, Waterford ‘naivety’ at the back and young Rebel forwards
Updated May 10th 2021, 8:20 AM
1. Cork’s goalscoring spree
Cork have not exactly been goalscoring kings during their league endeavours in recent years. Granted they raised 11 green flags last season but across 2017, 2018 and 2019, they hit the net ten times over three campaigns. They didn’t manage to hit five goals in one of those league runs and yet that was the tally they registered yesterday in their 2021 opener.
Robbie O’Flynn, Jack O’Connor, Shane Kingston and Alan Connolly (twice) all profited from an attitude that indicated this was a team with goals on their mind. They created another four clearcut chances as well, O’Connor sending a shot whistling wide while Patrick Horgan was denied on three occasions by a mix of the Waterford defence and goalkeeper Billy Nolan.
Cork will be heartened by the increased creativity they showed yet the large caveat to accompany that is the rustiness of the opening day setting and the quality of defending they faced.
2. Waterford defensive difficulties
For a team that prided themselves on their defensive solidity last year, Waterford’s showing at the back didn’t represent an early boost for the new season. 5-22 was a striking total to concede, the trio of goals in a rapid-fire burst towards the end, even if they were down to 14 men after Calum Lyons was shown red, was a glaring area for Liam Cahill t reflect on.
“I think what really worried was our naivety and our inability to counteract Cork’s movement. Now Cork in fairness to them today were really good, they really came out with real intent and asked a lot of questions of us.
“(It) very much had a challenge match feel towards the end, that’s always disappointing because it is the National Hurling League and it should be all guns blazing throughout the match. But I think it definitely fizzled out, our lapse in concentration again towards the end hurt us.”
Cahill did rightly stress that it had to be viewed as an opening effort. Waterford were without some experienced figures like Kevin Moran and Jamie Barron. That pair will at least return soon but Tadhg De Búrca is going to be absent for 2021 due to the cruciate he tore last December.
He was responsible for so much of the good things that anchored Waterford’s challenge last year, what defensive strategy can they devise without him this year?
3. Cork’s new faces
Kierna Kingston was busy in the off-season putting a new look on his Cork squad. Some long-serving stalwarts left through retirement or non-selection, a bunch of emerging talents were drafted in on the back of strong club form last autumn or bright performances with Cork underage sides.
of the team
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The last game before yesterday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh was on 23 December when Cork defeated Tipperary in the Munster U20 final. Shane Barrett hit 0-5 that night, Alan Connolly contributed 0-4. They have both been touted for bigger things, yesterday they returned to the same venue for a milestone on their senior journey.
Barrett got the nod from the off and apart from the 0-2 he scored, it was his insatiable appetite for work that stood out with his harrying of Waterford defenders directly leading to three Cork points. Connolly came on towards the end to display his scoring instincts with his positioning helping him execute two tidy finishes to the net.
Sterner tests naturally await, but as a positive start, they will both take it.
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