Sunday 24 September 2017

Tipperary shaken as Moran caps stirring comeback

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

WATCHING the closing stages of this keenly-fought contest at Walsh Park brought to mind an epic scene in the James Bond film 'Goldfinger.'

Bond is strapped down on a plinth; a deadly laser beam cuts through metal en route to his nether regions. Surely there is no escape?

"Do you expect me to talk?" asks Bond, a tad anxiously. "No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die," says Goldfinger.

That was the position in which the Deise found themselves in the second half yesterday. The Tipp laser-beam was manifest in the form of score-hungry Seamus Callanan, with 10 points to his credit.

Waterford were reeling after a reinvigorated Tipp set about them and built up a 0-16 to 1-10 lead with 16 minutes left for play.

Surely it was time for the home side to wilt and die? But no. Doggedly defiant, Waterford found the hero within themselves to claw their way past survival level into the winner's enclosure. And, just like a good Bond movie, they did it the hard way.

Only a few minutes remained to play, with Waterford two points adrift at 1-11 to 0-16 when their second-half free-taker Pauric Mahony, hitherto excellent, missed chances from a free and a '65'.

Agony! Then hope, with a 68th-minute score by Jamie Barron.

Joy and relief followed with Jake Dillon's equalising score at the end of normal time. Surely that would do it? But no, there was still a cameo to be played by James Bond, aka Kevin Moran, the Deise captain.

Twisting and turning as he tried to evade desperate challenges by three Tipp men, Moran somehow found the angle and a bit of space to have a shot from over 40 metres out near the sideline. Wouldn't you know, the sliotar soared high, and on target... and dropped over the bar. What a moment for the Waterford contingent.

As for Moran, he felt relief and happiness for the team.

"It was a bit of a hit-and-hope shot. It was lucky enough I suppose but we'll take it because I think in the last 15 minutes we deserved to get something out of the game," he said.

His manager Michael Ryan commented: "I'm delighted for the guys. It's all about the players. The last five or six minutes epitomised the way this team has worked all year – the guts, the heart, the commitment, and the fight.

"We spoke at half-time about a couple of things. Number one, the wind wasn't going to win it for us, and number two, we'd have to keep plugging away," he said.

Tipperary manager Eamon O'Shea reflected on the lost opportunity to garner vital league points in a closely contested Division 1A.

"We just didn't hold it together till the end but I thought the team really battled hard," he said.

"I'm proud of the lads for their second-half performance. Certainly we just couldn't seem to get our hand on the ball in the last few minutes, but they (Waterford) were fully deserving of getting something out of the game."

The big wind which favoured Tipp in the first half could have been a serious problem for Waterford but they dealt very well with the conditions.

Excellently marshalled by Michael 'Brick' Walsh at centre-back and with skipper Moran equally impressive, the Deise men did their best to keep the passing close and tight.

Callanan was clearly on form for Tipp, mixing his scores from placed-balls with nicely taken points from play over the course of the game.

Lar Corbett didn't impose himself but that's also partly due to the Waterford defence.

Still, Tipp were motoring comfortably in a low-scoring opening quarter at 0-4 to 0-1 when they were rocked on their heels by a Waterford goal.

The lively Barron, making his league debut, finished off a move involving Seamus Prendergast and Maurice Shanahan to power the sliotar to the Tipp net.

A tonic for the Deise, a setback for Tipp, but the latter rallied and led by 0-9 to 1-3 with eight minutes left to play in the first half.

Credit to Waterford, they gouged out three hard-earned points – one by Jake Dillon, and two from first-half free-taker Martin O'Neill, to go into the interval level at 1-6 to Tipp's 0-9.

Tipperary's introduction of Brendan Maher and Eoin Kelly brought a new impetus to their efforts in the second half.

They upped their intensity and had a new drive about them, which Waterford took almost 20 minutes to match.

But, once they got their mojo flowing, Waterford got themselves into a 'no surrender' mood that brought them their late reward.

They can be grateful for the two free-takers, O'Neill and Mahony, who each scored four points, and for the showings of Liam Lawlor, Shane Fives, Jamie Nagle, Jake Dillon, and Barron.

Tipp's half-backs Conor O'Brien, Tom Stapleton and Padraic Maher were solid in defence and in launching attacks for most of the game, while Shane McGrath, Brian O' Meara, Brendan Maher and Callanan performed well.

Man of the match: M Walsh (Waterford)

Scorers – Waterford: M O'Neill, P Mahony 0-4fs each; J Barron 1-1, J Dillon 0-2, B O'Halloran, M Shanahan, K Moran 0-1 each. Tipperary: S Callanan 0-10 (4fs, '65'); B O'Meara 0-2; S Bourke, S McGrath, N McGrath, L Corbett 0-1 each

Waterford – I O'Regan 7; S Fives 7, L Lawlor 7, S Daniels 7; J Nagle 7, M Walsh 8, K Moran 7; S O'Sullivan 7, P Prendergast 7; B O'Halloran 7, S Prendergast 7, M Shanahan 7; J Dillon 7, M O'Neill 7, J Barron 7. Subs: P Mahony 7 for M O'Neill (h-t), B O'Sullivan 6 for M Shanahan (59), D Fives for B O'Halloran (65).

Tipperary – B Cummins 7; D Maher 7, P Curran 7, M Cahill 7; C O'Brien 7, T Stapleton 7, P Maher 7; J Woodlock 7, S McGrath 7; B O'Meara 7, N McGrath 6, A Ryan 6; S Bourke 7, S Callanan 8, L Corbett 6. Subs: B Maher 7 for N McGrath (h-t); E Kelly for A Ryan 6 (h-t); J O'Dwyer 6 for S Bourke (49); P Bourke 6 for J Woodlock (61); J Forde for B O'Meara (67).

Ref – C McAllister (Cork)

Irish Independent

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