Wednesday 19 June 2019

Ruthless Tipp put Fanning's Déise troops to the sword

Tipperary 2-30 Waterford 0-18

Conor Gleeson hauls down Tipperary’s ‘Bonner’ Maher, resulting in the Waterford man being sent off. Photo: Sportsfile
Conor Gleeson hauls down Tipperary’s ‘Bonner’ Maher, resulting in the Waterford man being sent off. Photo: Sportsfile
Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

Paraic Fanning leans against the cold stone, breathing deeply. He is courteous and respectful towards inquisitors, but his expression is that of a man who suspects water cannons and tear gas couldn't have changed the story here.

Tipperary have just burned another message into the wind: One declaring them - resoundingly - an authentic summer force again. So to pick a way through the detail and the small-print seems an exercise in innocence almost. Fanning has the stomach only for a skimmed forensic then, a fleeting glance behind.

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"A tough day," he sighs. "It was kind of funny actually, with 20 minutes to go we had dragged ourselves back into it and had quite a lot of momentum actually and then it kind of petered out. I think our legs... maybe the extra man told a little bit... but we had a tough afternoon."

He was referring to Conor Gleeson's 29th-minute dismissal for a second yellow that allowed Tipp deploy Padraic Maher as a free defender and the launch pad for a blizzard of attacks towards the Killinan End goal that would reap a sobering 2-10 to Waterford's 0-1 over the closing 20 minutes.

But, truth be told, Waterford were in crisis mode long before Gleeson was shown red by referee John Keenan after hauling down Patrick 'Bonner' Maher from behind.

For the second week running, Tipperary returned an extraordinary 2-24 from play - embroidering that total even further with some gorgeous, scoring line 'cuts' from Jason Forde and Ronan Maher between the 15th and 17th minutes.

Stephen Bennett and Maurice Shanahan of Waterford in action against Cathal Barrett and James Barry of Tipperary. Photo: Sportsfile
Stephen Bennett and Maurice Shanahan of Waterford in action against Cathal Barrett and James Barry of Tipperary. Photo: Sportsfile

They looked unplayable at times, the perpetual movement of Forde, John 'Bubbles' O'Dwyer and John McGrath carrying that familiar Eamon O'Shea stamp and midfielder Michael Breen contributing a remarkable 0-6 from play as he .

Within six minutes of the start, Fanning had switched Conor Prunty off Seamus Callanan and on to 'Bubbles', the Killenaule man continuing the scintillating form he'd shown against Cork by nailing two points with his first two touches against a clearly rattled Conor Gleeson.

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Including the 2017 All-Ireland final, this registers as Waterford's seventh loss in their last eight Championship games (they drew with Tipp last year), leaving Fanning to admit they were "fighting for our lives now" with games to come against Limerick and Cork.

For all that, they were only six down at the break (0-10 to 0-16) and might have been just one score adrift, with Patrick Curran's 39th-minute shot snapping back off Brian Hogan's left-hand upright and jackknifing almost along the goal-line before Tipp managed to clear.

John McGrath of Tipperary after the match. Photo: Sportsfile
John McGrath of Tipperary after the match. Photo: Sportsfile

Pauric Mahony quickly added a free after a foul on Curran that Fanning clearly thought might have drawn a sterner sanction and grumbles of concern were audible in the home crowd as Tipp then stalled briefly after the resumption, being outscored 0-6 to 0-2 between the 41st and 51st minutes.

Spurning

One of those Waterford points, an Austin Gleeson score in the 42nd minute, could be described as an exercise in self-harm for Tipp, with three different defenders spurning possession before the ball reached the Mount Sion man's hand.

In other words, seemingly out-classed and out-fought, 14-man Waterford were just 0-17 to 0-20 down with 20 minutes still to run. It amounted to a mirage though. Little more than a trick of the light.

And Tipp declared it so in the 54th minute with a goal that was an essay in patience, with Padraic Maher starting the move, 'Bonner' Maher, Callanan and, finally, 'Bubbles' all involved before Forde was located left edge of the 'square', his finish typically assured.

And that, essentially, was that.

Waterford's only score through the remainder was a 68th-minute Brian O'Halloran point, by which time Tipp were 12 clear and, frankly, deep in exhibition mode. Remarkably, Callanan had yet to register a score on the board, but Forde put that right in the 72nd minute, setting up his captain for an easy goal, his shot ricocheting to the net off Waterford full-back Conor Prunty.

Right through the field, Tipp's touch and work rate spoke of an appetite for Championship hurling that wasn't discernible in them last summer, yet manager Liam Sheedy remained loath to start beating drums for what it is they might now promise.

"It was important to deliver back-to-back performances in this Munster championship," observed the Portroe man flatly.

"But it doesn't guarantee to get us anywhere really. There's aspects of our game I wouldn't be overly happy with. I thought they did trouble us for long periods of that game and the extra man was a huge moment.

"With the way these players are conditioned, it's very difficult to go and operate 14 versus 15. The scoreboard was a bit false in the finish, but it's job done, two more points on the board," he added.

For Fanning, his first season at the helm could be all but over if Waterford can't now find the measure of Limerick in Walsh Park on Sunday week.

"There's two ways we can go," he declared. "We can leave the season peter out, or we can fight for our lives.

"And I'd be very surprised if it's anything other than us fighting for our lives in Walsh Park. It's all about trying to rescue our season now."

SCORERS - Tipperary: J Forde 1-9 (3f, 0-1 s/l), M Breen 0-6, J McGrath 0-5, J O'Dwyer 0-4, S Callanan 1-0, N McGrath (1f), R Maher 0-2 each (1 s/l), B Heffernan, J Morris 0-1 each.

Waterford - Pauric Mahony 0-9 (7f), T Ryan 0-3, A Gleeson 0-2, T de Burca, B O'Halloran, J Barron, Stephen Bennett 0-1 each.

TIPPERARY - B Hogan 8, C Barrett 8, J Barry 7, A Flynn 7, B Maher 7, Padraic Maher 7, R Maher 8, N McGrath 7, M Breen 8, J Forde 9, Patrick Maher 7, D McCormack 6, J O'Dwyer 8, S Callanan 6, J McGrath 8. Subs: B Heffernan 7 for B Maher (half-time), R Byrne 7 for McCormack (48 mins), W Connors for N McGrath (60 mins), J Morris for O'Dwyer (66 mins), G Browne for Patrick Maher (70 mins).

WATERFORD - S O'Keeffe 7, C Lyons 7, C Prunty 7, N Connors 6, Philip Mahony 6, T de Burca 7, K Moran 6, J Barron 6, C Gleeson 6, T Ryan 8, A Gleeson 7, Pauric Mahony 7, J Prendergast 6, P Curran 6, Stephen Bennett 7. Subs: M Shanahan 6 for Curran (half-time), Shane Bennett 6 for Stephen Bennett (50 mins), K Bennett 6 for Philip Mahony (56 mins), B O'Halloran for Pauric Mahony (62 mins).

Ref - J Keenan (Wicklow).

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