Derek McGrath cites 'welfare' as depleted Déise blown away by Premier surge
Allianz NHL Division 1A Round 2: Tipperary 1-20 Waterford 1-11
"Winter hurling" was Michael Ryan's succinct appraisal of a match played on a bitterly cold evening in Thurles on Saturday, one strewn with errors and the spectacle of players windmilling their arms to keep warm.
Tipperary took time to find a pleasing rhythm but a strong second half had them eventually winning with ease to claim the first points of their campaign.
Ryan described their first half as "sluggish" but accepted that there had been a satisfying "shift" in the performance after the interval.
For Waterford, last year's All-Ireland finalists, this was the first time they've lost successive League games since 2014, the year they were relegated. There is some sympathy for Derek McGrath's policy of rotation although losing isn't something he'll want to make a habit of.
Tipp made seven changes, and McGrath retained only four of the team defeated by Wexford a week earlier. McGrath offered Tadhg De Burca a night off while Pauric Mahony and Jamie Barron were on the bench, introduced in the second half, by which time the visitors were sliding towards defeat.
"We'd be disappointed in the slight capitulation in the last ten or 15 minutes," said McGrath. "We wouldn't feel our confidence would be shredded by not getting any points here.
"We wouldn't feel arrogant enough to treat the League in a flippant manner. But we hear a lot about player welfare, too. We could have picked a half-back line with Tadhg, Austin (Gleeson) and so on, but based on guys playing three or four games in the last few weeks, we'll approach it in the way that suits us."
The League is not a major priority for Waterford but McGrath was keen not to come across as cavalier.
"Our dressing-room is the most motivated it has been in a long time, it's not us having shoulders back and not giving a damn about the league," he explained. "We want to represent Waterford but we're not where we want to be, yet, physically, because we were a little later going back."
In a fortnight they will be back at Walsh Park seeking a third successive League win over Kilkenny. They'll hope Gleeson will be fit; he left this match after 51 minutes with what McGrath thought was a quad muscle injury.
Having taken a 0-10 to 0-9 interval lead after playing with the light wind, with three points from an impressive Mikey Kearney, Waterford struggled in the opening quarter hour of the second half. Tipp opened a three-point lead, and would have been further ahead had Stephen O'Keeffe not produced brilliant saves to deny newcomer Paudie Feehan and Jason Forde.
Shortly before the second stop, with the teams levels, came a pivotal moment.
Gleeson was on the ball when shouldered robustly by Ronan Maher on the sideline. Waterford insisted the ball was still in play but the linesman ruled a lineball in Tipp's favour and from that play Tipp won a penalty which Forde blasted home.
They drove on from there, Waterford scoring only one point in the second half, in injury-time from Barron.
Forde finished with 1-9, including one marvellous point in the first half, and has been an excellent dead ball marksman in Seamus Callanan's absence.
Ronan Maher also had a big match, scoring four points, one from a sideline, and Noel McGrath's influence grew notably after half time.
Brendan Maher helped gain them a grip in the middle of the field, and at the back Tomas Hamill also thrived.
"We're in the first days of spring, but it doesn't feel like it,' Tipp boss Ryan summed up.
"Will this count in the latter stages of the league? No. Will it count in the Munster championship? No. But for the here and now it's a good workout."
Scorers - Tipperary: J Forde 1-9 (0-6fs, 1-0pen, 0-1 '65'), R Maher 0-4 (0-1 s-l), N McGrath 0-2 (0-1 s-l), S Curran 0-2, J McGrath, M Breen, B Maher 0-1. Waterford : P Curran (0-3 fs), M Kearney 0-3 each, M O'Brien 1-0, DJ Foran, I Kenny, A Gleeson, B O'Halloran, J Barron 0-1 each.
Tipperary - P Maher 8; A Flynn 8, T Hamill 8, S O'Brien 7; J O'Dwyer 7, Paudie Maher 7, P Feehan 8; B Maher 8, R Maher 9; D McCormack 7, N McGrath 8, S Curran 7; M Breen 8, J Forde 9, J McGrath 7. Subs: P Shanahan 6 for McCormack (inj 4 mins); J Barry 6 for O'Dwyer (inj 11); Patrick Maher 7 for Shanahan (57), C Darcy 7 for Kenny (68).
Waterford - S O'Keeffe 9; Shane Fives 7, B Coughlan 7, I Kenny 7; K Moran 7, A Gleeson 8, K Bennett 7; S Roche 7, C Dunford 6; DJ Foran 7, M O'Brien 7, B O'Halloran 6; Stephen Bennett 6, P Curran 6, M Kearney 8. Subs: P Hogan 7 for Roche (18); S McNulty 7 for Gleeson (inj 51); J Barron 7 for O'Brien (54); Pauric Mahony 7 for Dunford (57); M Walsh 7 for Bennett (60).
Ref - C Lyons (Cork).
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