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Thursday 17 April 2014

Munster massacre: Tipp in seventh heaven

Corbett nets four as champions' unstoppable rhythm leaves Deise shell-shocked
Tipperary 7-19 Waterford 0-19

Waterford's John Mullane grapples with Tipperary's Paddy Stapleton during yesterday's Munster SHC final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Photo: Sportsfile

SOME days don't deal in logic and this was very definitely one of them.

Waterford travelled to Pairc Ui Chaoimh as outsiders, a position they were happy to indulge on the basis that if few fancied them to retain the Munster title it just might lure Tipperary into a false sense of security.

Clearly it didn't. Not only were Tipperary locked and loaded for the big shoot-out, they brought a selection of guns which barrelled Waterford into obscurity, leaving them facing the toughest of psychological battles as they look ahead to the All- Ireland quarter-final clash against Galway on July 23/24.

Waterford now have two choices. They can allow their season to be smothered under the pain and panic of yesterday's horrific experience and make a tame exit from championship 2011, or else they can recharge the batteries and unleash the power which has underpinned so much of what they have done in recent years.

They will certainly attempt the latter but it will be extremely difficult after suffering the biggest Munster final defeat since 1982 when Waterford (yes, it was them back then too) lost to Cork by 31 points.

Indeed, it would have been even worse only for three excellent saves from goalkeeper Clinton Hennessy, who was blameless for the seven shots which beat him.

speed

In most cases, the Tipperary snipers had an unhindered view of Hennessy as the Waterford defence was ripped apart by the speed, positioning and intelligence of the attackers.

One of the big pre-match doubts about Waterford centred on how they would cope with such a potent strike force, whose goal-scoring record has improved immeasurably over the last 12 months. It was expected that Waterford would pack their defence in an attempt to clog the channels, but instead they took on Tipperary in a largely orthodox formation.

That was always going to be a gamble and, unfortunately for Waterford, it came under immediate pressure as Tipperary sprinted from the starting blocks, scoring 1-2 in the first four minutes. The goal came from Lar Corbett in what was the start of an incredible day for the Thurles heavy-hitter.

He added two more before half-time and a fourth in 66th minute, taking his personal return to 4-4. He scorched a string of defenders who were dispatched to mark him and, with all of his attacking colleagues also in the groove, it really was a miserable day for the Waterford defence, which started with Michael 'Brick' Walsh at full-back and Kevin Moran at No 6

They abandoned that formation at half-time, by which time they were trailing by 5-10 to 0-8, with Walsh moving out to the centre-back slot and Moran driving on from midfield. Both battled bravely all the way to the finish, as did Tony Browne, but there was never the remotest chance that it would disrupt Tipperary's unstoppable rhythm.

It was at its most devastating in the six minutes just before half-time. Pauric Mahony's accuracy from frees had kept Waterford in touch and while they passed the half-hour mark facing a six-point deficit, they were still in the contest, albeit under intense pressure.

However, Eoin Kelly whipped home Tipperary's second goal in the 32nd minute and it was followed by two similar strikes from Corbett, while Seamus Callanan also got in the act. Suddenly, Waterford were 17 points behind and Tipperary were on their way to the highest goal return in a Munster final since Limerick hit eight in 1936.

Unsurprisingly, the tempo dropped in the second half with the sides trading points through the third quarter before Tipperary struck for their sixth goal on 54 minutes when Kelly drove home his second.

Corbett completed the goal-fest near the end, by which stage stand and terrace had shed many of the 36,654 spectators who had come with high expectations of a thrilling contest.

If anything summed up this mismatch it was the contrasting experiences of two corner-forwards.

Corbett had one of those dream days when he organised his game so expertly that it looked as if anything he tried would come off, whereas John Mullane endured a very frustrating afternoon at the other end.

Living off a poor supply, well monitored by Paddy Stapleton and finding it hard to keep his feet, he cut a forlorn figure in an attack where Mahony's accuracy from frees was the only plus point. He scored 0-13 (12 from frees) while six others, including defender, Browne, midfielder Stephen Molumphy and sub Maurice Shanahan added one each.

All except Patrick Maher of Tipperary's starting forward line scored from play, but it wasn't that Maher didn't make a sizeable contribution. His fetching, running and passing added to the misery for Waterford in what was their worst championship experience for a very long time.

There's plenty of work to be done for Waterford, and manager Davy Fitzgerald promised they will take it on with as much determination as they can muster.

"I would like to remind people that we have had more good days than bad days in the last three years," he said. "The last two teams Tipp have played were beaten by around 10 points.

"We were up in the 20s today but when Tipp get a run on you, they make it very tough.

"We are better than what we saw out there today -- we know we are. It's just back to the drawing board again on certain things."

For Tipperary, the world is one beautiful place today. Not only have they regained the Munster title, they have also sent out a clear signal that they are still on an upward curve.

The mesmerising pace and movement of their attackers is a potential match-winner every day; midfield is solid and creative and while the defence won't be happy to have conceded so many frees yesterday, they never allowed Waterford to get in on Brendan Cummins.

It was a special day for Cummins, who equalled Christy Ring's championship appearances (65). He was taken off late on, presumably to allow the Tipperary supporters to give him the ovation which his achievement merited.

As for Waterford, there was nothing to take from the day except a horrible memory. Fitzgerald will begin the rehabilitation work immediately but it really will be a test of men and management to turn this around the weekend after next. However, he's ready for the battle.

"Any team I have ever been involved with has never given up," he said. "We will stay fighting, no matter what the story is. We'll take a bit of stick but that goes with the territory. We'll move on as best we can."

Scorers -- Tipperary: L Corbett 4-4, E Kelly 2-6 (0-3f), S Callanan 1-0, J O'Brien 0-3, N McGrath 0-2 (0-1 l-b), P Bourke 0-2, S Bourke, G Ryan 0-1 each. Waterford: P Mahony 0-13 (12f), T Browne, S O'Sullivan, J Mullane, S Walsh, S Molumphy, M Shanahan 0-1 each.

Tipperary -- B Cummins 7; P Stapleton 8, P Curran 8, M Cahill 7; J O'Keeffe 7, C O'Mahony 7, Padraic Maher 7; G Ryan 7, S McGrath 8; S Callanan 6, N McGrath 7, Patrick Maher 7; E Kelly 8, J O'Brien 7, L Corbett 10. Subs: P Bourke 7 for Callanan (50), B Dunne 7 for Ryan (54), S Bourke 7 for McGrath (61), B Maher for Padraic Maher (63), D Gleeson for Cummins (64).

Waterford -- C Hennessy 6; J Maher 5, M Walsh 7, N Connors 6; D Fives 5, K Moran 7, T Browne 7; R Foley 5, S Molumphy 5; E McGrath 5, S O'Sullivan 5, P Mahony 7; B O'Sullivan 5, S Walsh 5, J Mullane 5. Subs: J Nagle 6 for Maher (27), L Lawlor 5 for Fives (h-t), M Shanahan 7 for McGrath (h-t), D O'Sullivan 5 for B O'Sullivan (50).

Ref -- B Gavin (Offaly).

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