'All we want is a level playing field' - Tipp boss fumes over short recovery time for Cork semi-final
Tipperary 0-20 Waterford 0-9
Tipperary manager Liam Kearns was furious after his side comfortably overcame their first hurdle in the Munster senior football championship at Thurles last night. Kearns hit out at the short recovery time allowed before they face Cork in next Saturday's semi-final at the same venue, insisting that they deserve at least a two week respite.
"It's a disgrace," he fumed. "It's wrong, really, really wrong. All we want is a level playing field, any time we go out that's all we want; we did not get that."
Kearns rested leading marksman Conor Sweeney last night to allow him time to recover from a hamstring strain, but he said that next week may come too soon for the player who finished their top scorer in the National League. "If he had a fortnight Conor Sweeney would definitely be playing against Cork," said Kearns, "but he has six days. It will be very tight We hope he'll make it."
Steven O'Brien, who Kearns said had a knock on his ankle, didn't start last night either but came on in the second half. Tipperary will be facing Cork for the third year running in a Munster semi-final, having lost to them last year by a point. They enjoyed a first championship win in 72 years over Cork in 2016.
That victory helped catapult them to a fairytale run that only ended in the All-Ireland semi-finals when they were stopped by Mayo. They did not enjoy the same success last year, their summer interest ended by Armagh in the third round of the qualifiers, but they harbour serious designs on making another strong impression in the months ahead.
Waterford were not expected to detain them unduly and so it proved. Last night was Tipp's ninth consecutive win over Waterford in the championships since they last lost to them in 1988. Eighteen places separated the counties in the National League this year, with Waterford managing just one win in Division 4 and Tipp retaining an interest in promotion to Division 1 until the final day.
Exacerbating Waterford's problems was the absence of six of the team that almost shocked Cork in Dungarvan last year, including one of their best players that day, the former captain Paul Whyte. They were unable to put Tipp under any meaningful pressure and the qualifiers beckon where their record is just one win since they were launched in 2001, that over London in 2011.
Even with Sweeney and O'Brien absent, Tipp were too good without having to produce anything spectacular. Michael Quinlivan finished with three points, while being policed by Stephen Prendergast, and Tipp had enough ease to be able to take off Quinlivan with 15 minutes left.
At that point they led 0-14 to 0-4, Waterford not scoring in the second half until the 52nd minute.
They were hanging on by the interval, 0-3 to 0-7 adrift, but when play resumed Tipp ran off eight scores without reply and the match was dead. The visitors set up with a stack of players in their own half and placed no pressure on the Tipp kick out. Conor Murray played as a sweeper but they conceded frees which Liam McGrath, on his first championship start, punished with seven conversions, adding two more from play in a tidy night's work.
Tipperary's Evan Comerford returned in goal for his first championship game since the Mayo match in 2016, having missed last summer through suspension, but he had little to do. Playing with a light breeze Tipperary built up a six-point lead in the first half before Waterford managed to land their first score, though corner forward Gavin Crotty, in the 28th minute. Crotty also ended their second half scoring drought after a 17 minute wait.
With JJ Hutchinson ploughing a lonely furrow in their attack, Tipp were rarely threatened, although Tommy Prendergast has one shot for goal blocked by a defender in the first half. Pendergast came forward to shoot two fine scores from play in the latter stages of the first half but Tipp always looked capable of finding another gear.
Which they did immediately after the interval, upping the tempo and pulling away for a facile victory.
Scorers - Tipperary: L McGrath 0-9 (7fs); M Quinlivan 0-3, K O'Halloran 0-2, J Feehan, J Kennedy, J Keane, L Boland, J Lonergan, P Austin 0-1. Waterford: J Curry 0-3 (2fs); T Prendergast, G Crotty 0-2, C Murray, JJ Hutchinson 0-1.
Tipperary: E Comerford; S O'Connell, J Meagher, A Campbell; B Maher, R Kiely, J Feehan; L Casey, J Kennedy; J Keane, K O'Halloran, B Fox; L Boland, M Quinlivan, L McGrath. Subs: S O'Brien for Kennedy (44); P Austin for O'Halloran (48); K Fahey for Maher (49); J Lonergan for Quinlivan (54); P Codd for Meagher (57); G Hannigan for Casey (66).
Waterford: S Enright; J McGrath, B Looby, A Trihy; D Guiry, S Prendergast, B O'Keeffe; T Prendergast, M Curry; C Murray, S Ryan, K Power; G Crotty, J Veale, JJ Hutchinson. Subs: J Curry for O'Keeffe (29); C Guiry for Veale (43); J Allen for McGrath (black card 56); M Kelly for Power (68); M Cummins for Trihy (70); E O'Brien for Hutchinson (73).
Referee: F Kelly (Longford).
Sunday Indo Sport