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Allianz HL D1: Bennett stars for Waterford

Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A

WATERFORD 1-24 CORK 3-17

By Dermot Keyes at Walsh Park

Liam Cahills term as Waterford manager got off to the ideal start in front of a 4,325-strong crowd, prevailing by the minimum against a Cork side which registered an alarming 17 wides.

Despite a late scare provided through Shane Kingstons stoppage time goal, a Waterford side which rose slowly from the blocks demonstrated great nerve to ultimately turn the contest back in its favour.

In benign conditions, a barnstorming first half saw Waterford head for the dressing room with a deserved two-point 1-13 to 2-08 advantage.

Such a lead looked highly unlikely within three minutes of the throw-in when, capitalising on indecision from the Deises inside line, Cork goaled twice through Conor Lehane and Shane Kingston.

Patrick Horgan, the Rebels all-time leading Championship scorer, wreaked havoc with practically every intervention of his as Waterfords full-back line made a decidedly inauspicious start to 2020. And that indecision undoubtedly contributed to Liam Cahills withdrawal of Conor Gleeson after 30 minutes.

But to the home side mounted an impressive recovery, injecting more energy and drive into their play than they mounted at any stage in the face of top-ranking opposition last year.

Jack Fagan converted a fifth minute sideline cut, restoring volume among the home support. The impressive Horgan then dusted himself to convert a free he won himself before Stephen Bennett scored the first of eight placed balls as the seventh minute beckoned.

A minute later, Kieran Bennett opened his account and had doubled his tally within seconds following Iarlaith Dalys through ball. Darragh Fitzgibbon pointed for Cork after 10 minutes to leave the visitors four clear, but Waterford were soon back in touch thanks to Patrick Currans goal, rounding off a move featuring Neil Montgomery and the onrushing Calum Lyons.

Stephen Bennett a free and Jack Fagan both pointed within a minute of each other before Bennett turned over a 16th minute free to leave the Deisemen two points clear. Seamus Harnedy steadied the Cork ship with an excellent 17th minute point following great work by Horgan before Kieran Bennett brilliantly found his range from halfway five minutes later.

Horgan turned over a 24th minute free before Kieran Bennett pointed from a sideline cut, 30 metres to the right of Anthony Nashs net. Harnedy and Horgan a free restored parity by the 26th minute, with Shane Kingston scooping a great goalscoring opportunity wide barely a minute later.

From his own 65-metre line, Stephen Bennett turned over his fourth free, with Shane Kingston restoring parity 90 seconds later. Damien Cahalane landed a superb point following a fine upfield surge in the 32nd minute to edge Cork back in front before a brace of Stephen Bennett points, followed by a fine Patrick Curran point, sent Waterford two clear.

Twenty-two seconds after the restart, Stephen Bennett scored his first point from play, tagging on another barely 50 seconds later. Horgan a free and another excellent Cahalane point restored Corks arrears to two points before Kieran Bennett, fed by Dessie Hutchinson, had the white flag raising once more. Shane Kingston pounced on a loose ball to record a 44th minute point for Cork before Stephen Bennett converted his sole 65 of the afternoon.

Mark Coleman landed a fine point from distance four minutes later and he repeated the feat in the 52nd minute to bring the sides level once more, with Patrick Horgan converting another free in between. A Stephen Bennett free edged Waterford ahead in the 54th minute before fine efforts by Lismore duo Jack Prendergast and Iarlaith Daly steered the hosts towards the finish line.

Nine minutes from time, Patrick Curran pointed following a fine Shane McNulty clearance and when substitute Mikey Kearney added a 65th minute point, followed by another fine Patrick Curran point victory looked assured for Waterford.

Patrick Horgan and Stephen Bennett traded points before Kingstons injury-time goal hauled Cork back into contention. In the 72nd minute, Damien Cahalane charged forward to clock in a third superb point from play to leave just a single point between the sides. And had Shane Kingston been under less pressure when shooting wide with the games final attack, few could have quibbled had the spoils been shared. But this was Waterfords day.

Scorers for Waterford: Stephen Bennett 0-11 7fs, 165, Patrick Curran 1-3, Kieran Bennett 0-5 0-1 sideline, Jack Fagan 0-2 1 sideline, Jack Prendergast 0-1, Mikey Kearney 0-1, Iarlaith Daly 0-1.

Scorers for Cork: Shane Kingston 2-2, Patrick Horgan 0-6 6fs, Damien Cahalane 0-3, Conor Lehane 1-0, Mark Coleman 0-2, Seamus Harnedy 0-2, Darragh Fitzgibbon 0-2.

WATERFORD: Stephen OKeeffe; Conor Gleeson, Conor Prunty, Shane McNulty; Calum Lyons, Darragh Fives, Iarlaith Daly; Jack Prendergast, Jake Dillion; Neil Montgomery, Jack Fagan, Kieran Bennett; Dessie Hutchinson, Stephen Bennett, Patrick Curran.

Subs: Kieran Power for Calum Lyons Blood, 22-25, Shane Fives for Conor Gleeson 30, Mikey Kearney for Jake Dillon 50, Peter Hogan for Dessie Hutchinson 54, Darragh Lyons for Neil Montgomery 59, Tom Barron for Jack Fagan 62

CORK: Anthony Nash; Niall OLeary, Robert Downey, Sean ODonoghue; Chris OLeary, Tim OMahony, Damien Cahalane; Bill Cooper, Mark Coleman; Seamus Harnedy, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Aidan Walsh; Conor Lehane, Shane Kingston, Patrick Horgan.

Subs: Luke Meade for Aidan Walsh 50, Sean OLeary Hayes for Niall OLeary 54, Sean Twomey for Conor Lehane 60 and Robbie OFlynn for Seamus Harnedy 68.

REFEREE: John Keenan Wicklow.

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