Colin O’Riordan’s hip injury marred Tipperary’s impressive 22-point victory over Waterford in yesterday’s Munster senior football championship quarter-final crushing victory at Semple stadium.
O’Riordan, an All Star nominee last year, hobbled off in the 42nd minute and is rated as doubtful for the visit of Kerry to Thurles on June 14.
O’Riordan was magnificent as captain of Tipperary’s U-21s this year and was quietly effective yesterday in the half-forward line before he was taken off.
Manager Peter Creedon is confident that Tipp can be competitive against Kerry, and bridge the 17-point gap that existed between the counties two years ago, but he’ll need O’Riordan to aid that cause.
Creedon said: “His hip is quite sore. He had a scan last week so fingers crossed but it doesn’t look too good. His hips are at him – a common injury now for a lot of players.”
Creedon was otherwise pleased as Tipp demolished Waterford, with ten different players on the scoresheet in front of 1,641 spectators.
But Kerry will provide the acid test of Tipp’s progress –only then will the true value of yesterday’s win be revealed.
Waterford, in truth, provided feeble opposition, a far cry from the outfit that began the year with McGrath Cup success and victory over Wicklow in their opening Division 4 match. Tipp, though, were ruthless.
Creedon said: “It was a good win, the lads played very well in the first quarter of an hour and probably put the game out of Waterford’s reach.
“I was very happy with their skill level and application. We’re looking forward to Sunday week now against Kerry.
“It’s going to be a different game completely in two weeks’ time so we’ll get back to hard training now on Tuesday night. We are moving on, we’re moving up a level alright.
“Kerry will be warm favourites for that particular match and we’ve just got to bring a level of performance which shows that we’re improving and we’ll see have we closed the gap on them from two years ago. I suspect we have but we’ll find out about that in two weeks time.”
Tipp led by 13 points at half-time but weren’t content with that as they pushed on for more scores in the second half.
And Creedon was pleased with the application shown by his players, saying: “I thought that bar maybe ten minutes before half-time our lads didn’t get sloppy at any stage.
“Evan’s (Comerford) kickouts were good, we’ve worked on that in training, we’re trying to mix up the kickouts.
“We’re really looking forward to having a crack off Kerry and see where we are. We’d like to push on try to get to an All-Ireland quarter-final.”
In two of the last three seasons, Tipp have reached the last 12 of the All-Ireland series, and breaking through to the quarter-finals would represent another big step forward.
A clinical touch will do them no harm in that quest and while they led by 1-13 to 0-3 at half-time, they weren’t content with that.
Peter Acheson pointed just 12 seconds after the restart as Tipp hit five unanswered scores before Shane Briggs, playing his 14th season with Waterford, registered his side’s only point from play in the second half.
It was that kind of afternoon for the visitors, who trailed by six points before Michael O’Halloran lofted over their opening score in the 13th minute.
Tipp were all over Waterford like a rash, despite playing against a strong breeze from the start.
Steven O’Brien, O’Riordan’s midfield sidekick at U-21 level, was the star of the show with six points from play, three in each half.
Tipp claimed the only goal of the game in the 25th minute when Michael Quinlivan fisted home the loose ball after Conor Sweeney struck an upright with a free.
Tipp piled on the misery for Waterford in the second half, opening with real intent before stalwart Briggs slotted over a token score.
They would trouble the umpires just once more, when JJ Hutchinson landed a free, as Tipp kept their foot on the accelerator to record a handsome win.
There was just the one goal but Waterford were lucky they didn’t concede more.
Tipp’s hard running from all areas of the pitch punched holes in the Waterford rearguard and Brian Fox shot narrowly wide in the first half.
Waterford boss Tom McGlinchey, the former Tipp supremo, was at a loss to explain his side’s abject display.
He said: “Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The powers-that-be have to actually decide are we going to have a two-tier competition because no team wants to go out and take a beating like that.”
Scorers – Tipperary: M Quinlivan 1-3 (0-1f), S O’Brien 0-6, B Fox, P Austin, C Sweeney (2fs) 0-3 each, G Hannigan 0-2, S Kennedy, P Acheson, G Mulhaire, J Lonergan 0-1 each. Waterford: M O’Halloran, JJ Hutchinson (2fs) 0-2 each, S Briggs 0-1.
TIPPERARY – E Comerford 7; P Codd 7, C McDonald 7, R Kiely 8; A Campbell 7, P Acheson 8, S Kennedy 7; S O’Brien 9, G Hannigan 7; G Mulhaire 7, C O’Riordan 7, P Austin 8; C Sweeney 7, M Quinlivan 7, B Fox 8. Subs: J Lonergan 7 for O’Riordan (42), B Grogan 6 for Quinlivan (44), L Casey 6 for Sweeney (58), B Mulvihill 6 for Fox (58), A Morrissey NR for Acheson (64), S Flynn NR for Mulhaire (66).
WATERFORD – S Barron 6; T Ó hUallacháin 6, T O’Gorman 6; M O’Gorman 6; D Crowley 6, S Briggs 7, L Lawlor 6; P Hurney 5, T Prendergast 5; M Ferncombe 5, M O’Halloran 7, JJ Hutchinson 6; M Curry 5, P Whyte 5, J Veale 5. Subs: L Ó Lionáin 5 for Curry (ht), C O’Keeffe 5 for Hurney (49), S Prendergast for 5 Ferncombe (51), R O’Ceallaigh 5 for Whyte (59).
Referee: R Hickey (Clare).