Seasoned Deise can reach first All-Ireland final since 2008
Waterford trusted to exact revenge for Munster semi-final defeat
All-Ireland SHC semi-final
Cork v Waterford
RTE 1 & Sky Sports Arena, 3.30pm Sunday
Waterford and Cork do battle for the second time in the 2017 championship on Sunday when they meet in the All-Ireland SHC semi-final, battling to book a place in the final against Galway.
Cork ran out surprise five-point winners the first time around, with Waterford struggling to cope with the long break after the league season.
This time, Cork must cope with a five-week layoff, whereas Waterford are battle-hardened from their trip through the back-door.
It is Cork’s first appearance in an All-Ireland semi-final since they were well beaten by Tipperary in 2014, while Waterford have fallen at this stage in the last two years, losing out to Kilkenny in a replay 12 months ago.
Following their exit from the Munster championship, Waterford bounced back with a comprehensive 24-point victory over Offaly.
That victory led them to Kilkenny, and they overcame that challenge in stunning fashion, with their big players stepping up in extra-time.
They enjoyed a relatively comfortable win over Wexford, but Tadhg de Burca’s red card, and subsequent suspension, has become the major talking point. It could have a big impact on Sunday.
Waterford have built their system around De Burca as their sweeper and there’s no doubt he will be a massive loss, but it looks as though Darragh Fives will fill that role and he will be well prepared to do so.
The Cork inside forward line, and Alan Cadogan in particular, have been lethal when provided with quality ball, so Waterford will need to cut off those supply lines.
Austin Gleeson lit up the championship this time last year, with outstanding performances in both games against Kilkenny. Waterford will need him to reach those heights again and if he does he looks a good bet to be man of the match.
Gleeson was well marshalled for much of their quarter-final win over Wexford, but he still finished with three points from play, and won numerous frees that Pauric Mahony duly slotted.
Gleeson has continued to play in the free role he took up in 2016, dropping deep when needed and taking scores from distance, but the difference in his game in 2017 has been his selflessness. He has taken up the playmaker role at times, and has improved his shot selection, which let him down at times early in the championship.
Cork have been a revelation in 2017, winning their first Munster championship since 2014, and their young players have really come to the fore. Under-21 stars Darragh Fitzgibbon, Mark Coleman and Luke Meade have come in and added to a strong team, in which Conor Lehane, Patrick Horgan and Cadogan have been firing.
Cadogan finished with 1-4 from play in the Munster final, and his classy goal inside 15 minutes set the tone for Cork, while Horgan’s shooting was deadly and he finished with 13 points.
In defence, Cork have been solid throughout, conceding just one goal per game in their three matches. They even managed to hold a Clare forward line who scored three goals in each of their other championship matches, to just one green flag.
Damien Cahalane and Mark Ellis have been impressive in the full-back and centre-back roles respectively, and have set the example for the younger players around them, but the open space of Croke Park will be hugely testing for this young team.
Both sides have notched high scores throughout this championship, but neither has been especially effective closer to goal.
Cork have scored just three goals in their three championship games and while Waterford have seven in four games, four of those came in their extra-time win over Kilkenny. Both will be content to keep things tight in defence, and take their scores from distance, so goals could be at a premium.
Waterford have been knocking on the door for the past two years, and have just failed to take that final step to September, but their extra-time win over Kilkenny in the qualifiers was a turning point in their season.
They beat Kilkenny for the first time in more than 50 years, and Derek McGrath’s side will have taken huge inspiration from that.
While Cork have gone about their business in impressive fashion throughout the Munster championship, it could be a year too soon for their young team. Waterford can lead at half-time and full-time to take their place in a first All-Ireland Final since 2008.
3pts 7-4 general
Waterford-Waterford double result
1pt 4-1 Paddy Power
Under 2.5 goals
2pts 11-8 Betfair, Betfred, Paddy Power
Austin Gleeson man of the match
1pt 7-1 Paddy Power