Tipp torrents wash Deise hopes away
Callanan and McGrath bag 4-13 between them as rampant Premier men retain Munster title
Nobody saw this coming, least of all Waterford, which probably explains why they were so ill-prepared for it. They thought they had purged their system of heavy defeats, only to be re-visited by haunting memories of some bad old days when their Munster championship ambitions were cruelly crushed by opposition that appeared so much more at ease with the big occasion.
Tipperary 5-19 Waterford 0-13
That was very much the case on a dark, dreary afternoon in the Gaelic Grounds where Tipperary flew in a completely different orbit to a Waterford team that were unrecognisable from the well-structured outfit Derek McGrath despatched to so many venues over the last 18 months.
Tipp soared to heights that left their supporters convinced the All-Ireland is well within their reach, while Waterford were left facing urgent repair work, which must be completed before they take on Wexford in the quarter-final on Sunday week.
For while Wexford have looked ordinary for most of the year, their win over Cork on Saturday evening will have greatly encouraged them.
It leaves them heading for the quarter-final in high spirits, unlike Waterford, who may be swamped by doubts after yesterday's catastrophic malfunction.
The 21-point margin was identical to the difference between Tipperary and Waterford in the 2011 Munster final, a setback from which the Deise recovered quickly as they beat Galway in the quarter-final.
The older members of the squad will be able to share encouraging memories of that experience with their younger colleagues, who are now in need of reassurance after enduring such a painful reality check yesterday.
For Tipperary and their new manager Michael Ryan it was a wonderfully enjoyable day especially in the second half, during which their outscored Waterford by 4-12 to 0-5.
Three of Waterford's points came from frees, underlining the extent of the power failure.
And, as McGrath sought to fix the many leaks which were sinking Waterford's bid for a first Munster title since 2010, he withdrew men who have been so central to their re-build.
Maurice Shanahan, 'Brick' Walsh, Austin Gleeson, Noel Connors and Pauric Mahony were all replaced between the 48th and 60th minutes as McGrath attempted to stem a tide which was crashing over everything blue and white with devastating impact.
We have all come to expect an organisation and structure from Waterford that makes them very difficult to beat even on days when they are up against more complete opposition.
It happened in last year's Munster final against Tipp and again in the All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny. They lost both games but could point to some specific shortcomings that undermined them, whereas there was so much wrong yesterday that they will find the review process very difficult.
They will be hard on themselves while also being conscious of the fact that Tipp were exceptionally efficient.
Poor performances on Saturday by Cork and Limerick, both of whom Michael Ryan's men had beaten, raised questions about the reliability of Tipperary's form line but they were answered most emphatically on a day when John McGrath and Seamus Callanan scored 4-13 between them.
McGrath returned 3-2 in his first Munster final, with one of his goals coming from a second-half penalty, while Callanan posted 1-11, 1-2 from open play.
McGrath's first goal, poached in the ninth minute, was significant on two fronts. It disrupted Waterford's early momentum while also showing up an early chink in their defence.
Waterford led by 0-7 to 1-2 after 14 minutes, with two of their points coming from inspirational line-ball strikes by Gleeson, but that was as good as it got for them.
By half-time Tipperary were 1-7 to 0-8 ahead, a small advantage in real terms but having outscored their rivals by 0-5 to 0-1 in the second quarter, the initiative was running with them.
It might have been a trickle only at that stage but it quickly became a torrent, from which Waterford could find no escape.
So many crucial elements of their game disintegrated after Tipperary hit three goals in the opening 12 minutes of the second half that a serious thrashing was inevitable.
McGrath (41st and 47th minutes) and Michael Breen (44th minute) scored the goals, leaving Waterford with a real crisis.
Their vaunted defensive system was reduced to rubble and, as they adjusted their approach in an effort to undo some of the damage, they were left totally exposed.
Even Mahony's free-taking, which is usually faultless, fell apart and by the time he was withdrawn on the hour mark, he had missed three strikes which should have yielded points.
Tipperary's shooting wasn't what if might have been either in the final quarter but by then their control was so absolute that it really didn't matter.
Unlike McGrath, whose replacements were forced on him by trying circumstances, Ryan could afford to give five subs a run-out from the lap of luxury in the final 20 minutes.
The heavy lifting had long since been completed by a team that never allowed Waterford to impose their style of play to any great effect.
Waterford's under-manned attack found it very difficult against a compact Tipperary defence.
And while Waterford had a spare man posted between the full-back and half-back lines, Tipperary worked their way intelligently through the congestion.
Most of all, Tipperary's touch was excellent, whereas Waterford made far more handling errors than would normally be the case.
The malaise spread throughout the team, increasing all the time under enormous Tipperary pressure.
It was Waterford's fourth successive Munster final without scoring a goal, a failing which never looked as if would be put right yesterday.
Meanwhile, Tipperary have scored a total of 8-53 in three Munster games, leaving them in a very positive mindset as they begin preparations to take their All-Ireland bid to Croke Park next month.
They expected a far tougher challenge from Waterford yesterday but, for whatever reason, it wasn't forthcoming and now the big question is whether McGrath can prime the Deise for the re-launch.
A very smart operator, he has figured a way out of other problems and will, no doubt, devise a plan to get Waterford's season back on track.
The short time-span won't allow him to undertake wholesale change and, besides, he is unlikely to abandon a system that served Waterford well since the start of last season.
One serious misfire doesn't change that.
Scorers - Tipperary: S Callanan 1-11 (0-9fs), J McGrath 3-2 (1-0 pen), M Breen 1-1, Padraic Maher, N McGrath, Patrick Maher, J Forde, A McCormack. Waterford: Pauric Mahony 0-6 (4fs), P Curran 0-5 (3fs), A Gleeson 0-2 (2 s-l).
Tipperary - D Gleeson; C Barrett, J Barry, M Cahill; S Kennedy, R Maher, Padraic Maher; B Maher, M Breen; D McCormack, Patrick Maher, N McGrath; J McGrath, S Callanan, N O'Meara. Subs: J Forde for O'Meara (50), S Curran for McCormack (56), K Bergin for B Maher (60), A McCormack for N McGrath (66), D Maher for R Maher (68).
Waterford - S O'Keeffe; S Fives, B Coughlan, N Connors; Philip Mahony, T De Burca; K Moran; D Fives, J Barron; S Bennett, Pauric Mahony, M Walsh; P Curran, M Shanahan, A Gleeson. Subs: T Devine for Shanahan (48), J Dillon for Walsh (50), C Dunford for Gleeson (55), C Gleeson for Connors (58), B O'Halloran for Pauric Mahony (60).
REF - B Gavin (Offaly)