Waterford minor football manager, Tom Flynn. Photo: Sean Byrne.
Munster MFC – Cork v Waterford – Déise manager – Tom Flynn
Waterford didn’t belong in Cork’s company last Wednesday.
The margin of victory was the only issue at play. 41 points separated the two counties in 2017. The Rebels settled for 27 this time. “Fourteen points better than last year!” quipped Déise boss Tom Flynn outside the dressing room.
Off Cork’s first attack, Hugh Murphy stung the gloves of Niall McSweeney. On a murky night, the scores rained in and the game was sewn up after ten minutes. What could Flynn take out of a lopsided encounter like that? “We’re in the wrong championship anyway for a start. That’s no reflection on the lads in the dressing room. Tonight was the equivalent of putting a Junior B team out against The Nire or Stradbally and telling them to try and win the senior championship in Waterford. That’s not going to happen. We’re back to our own level now again when we play the winners of Tipp and Limerick. That’s the game we’ve been targeting all along. We wanted a performance tonight, we got sixty per cent of a performance. I just said to the lads in there you get punished when you give away the ball. We gave away the ball so many times. The four goals they got, we had the ball in our own hands before the second last fella kicked the ball into the net. These lads will learn a lot from that.”
Flynn is left bewildered by the current provincial set-up. The two big guns meet on May 8 at Austin Stack Park while Clare, Tipperary, Limerick and Waterford fight it out on the other side of the draw. “The crazy thing is that Cork now have to play Kerry so one of them are going to go out of it. The two best teams in Munster and one of them is going to go out at the semi final stage. How the Director General of the GAA can sit at home and eat his Corn Flakes in the morning and say ‘I’m happy with the way things are at underage’. I don’t know, that’s his problem.”
Cork set a fast tempo at the beginning of both halves. Two lengthy pre-match warm-ups took it out of the Waterford legs as well. Conor Corbett goaled with just 2 minutes and 13 seconds on the clock. The lead was eleven points before the visitors settled. “We had a thing to do at the start of the match, we tried it and we lost the ball. It was like the lads were leg weary, maybe we did too much of a warm-up. We didn’t get after them. We knew exactly what they were going to do, they were going to come straight down the middle and try to get an early goal. Cork, Kerry, Dublin and Galway will do that. We tried to offset it and it didn’t work for us. For the second half, we set ourselves a target and then they got the early goal. I thought the lads steadied themselves and we played alright after that. We defended well, recycled the ball well, worked it up the field and had a couple of goal chances.”
Those four goal opportunities that fell to Niall O’Keeffe, Liam Fennell and Michael Ó Floinn provided a crumb of comfort. “The ball went over the top and Michael was one on one with the keeper. He just slowed down, he was thinking about what he was going to do next and the full back got back at him. Michael will learn from that. That won’t happen him again. Liam had two of them and Niall had a great chance.”
Waterford’s championship starts now. The squad trained twice over the weekend and gather twice again this week to focus on this season defining play-off match. What will Flynn and his backroom team be looking to work on? “Not giving away the ball is the main thing. We played challenge games against better teams and we gave away the ball and they punished us. Every time we gave away the ball tonight, Cork scored. They didn’t put it wide, they scored from the balls we gave away. We’ve got to learn from that. Every time you lose, you’ve got to learn and hopefully the lads will learn.”