Saturday 24 March 2018

Waterford muster just 1-1 in the second half as Tipp condemn them to back-to-back defeats

Tipperary 1-20 Waterford 1-11

Peter Hogan of Waterford in action against Tomas Hamill of Tipperary during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1A Round 2 match between Tipperary and Waterford at Semple Stadium in Thurles, County Tipperary. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Peter Hogan of Waterford in action against Tomas Hamill of Tipperary during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1A Round 2 match between Tipperary and Waterford at Semple Stadium in Thurles, County Tipperary. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Dermot Crowe

Faltering starts reduced the scope for further slippage for both counties tonight, even if each harbours grander designs than winning a National League. Tipperary will ultimately be judged on their bid to regain the All-Ireland. Waterford’s ambitions in Derek McGrath’s swansong season are equally unconditional, seeking the rarefied peak last conquered by their countymen in 1959.

But that is the broad picture. When a match starts it becomes distilled into the business at hand and while winning the league isn’t essential, the recipe of two defeats in a row isn’t recommended either. In the second half Tipp, a point down at the interval, moved up a gear, though they didn’t need to hit top gear to win.

It was a poor match in bitterly cold conditions. Waterford never really appeared after the interval, managing just 1-1 over the second half — the point came two minutes into injury time from Jamie Barron. Tipp looked more in the mood with Jason Forde hitting 1-9, including a penalty, and Ronan Maher outstanding, scoring four points, one from a lineball.

Tipperary made seven changes from last weekend’s defeat in Ennis, starting Maher, Dan McCormack, John McGrath and Michael Breen in a blunt statement of their intentions. Conor Kenny and Tom Fox went from starting places to being left off the match day squad. Already you are seeing the difficult balancing act between staying competitive and conducting a useful level of experimentation.

Waterford might be happier hurling in Thurles than in Walsh Park where their style of play is less cramped and compromised. But they never really got started, except for spells in the first half, and were dealt a massive blow when Austin Gleeson went off injured after 51 minutes. Moments before, Forde slammed home their penalty, won by Breen who was bundled over by newcomer Ian Kenny.

Three minutes earlier Waterford looked like they were back in the match. Mark O’Brien arrived at the end of an overlap and scored their only goal to leave the match level. But the penalty knocked the wind out of their sails.

Derek McGrath made a whopping 11 changes from the Wexford match. Kenny was given a debut at corner-back and notable names such as Pauric Mahony, Tadhg De Burca and Barron were rested, though Mahony and Barron came on. Six of last year’s All-Ireland under-21 team started, including DJ Foran, impressive for UCD in the Fitzgibbon Cup.

There was little to warm those who braved the low temperatures in the opening half’s play. Waterford went in leading by a point, 0-10 to 0-9, a deserved lead when playing with the breeze.

Forde had Tipp ahead after two minutes and with 13 minutes played they led 0-4 to 0-1. The final two of that sequence came from Forde, easily the pick of a dull half which was littered with mistakes. He won a low ball ahead of Shane Fives in the 12th minute and then sent over a brilliant score with his back to goal with little room to manoeuvre. That was quickly followed by a sublime point from a Noel McGrath lineball.

But Waterford then dominated the rest of the half. Patrick Curran, looking sharp at full forward, hit two frees and Foran scored an excellent point, a run of scores that levelled the teams after 16 minutes. Gradually Tipp’s defence got on top, with Tomas Hamill excellent.

Gleeson, playing as sweeper, hit a wondrous point but the stand out player for Waterford was Mikey Kearney who knocked over three points from play. Tipp were dealt a blow after only four minutes when McCormack had to leave the pitch with an injury.

Tipp host Wexford in two weeks, while Waterford must prepare for a home tie against Kilkenny.

Scorers — Tipperary: J Forde 1-9 (0-6 fs, 1-0 pen, 0-1 65), R Maher 0-4 (0-1 lb), N McGrath (0-1 lb), S Curran 0-2 each, J McGrath, M Breen, B Maher 0-1. Waterford: P Curran (0-3 fs), M Kearney 0-3 each, M O’Brien 1-0, TJ Foran, I Kenny, A Gleeson, B O’Halloran, J Barron 0-1.

Tipperary: P Maher; A Flynn, T Hamill, S O’Brien; J O’Dwyer, Paudie Maher, P Feehan; B Maher, R Maher; D McCormack, N McGrath, S Curran; M Breen, J Forde, J McGrath. Subs: P Shanahan for McCormack (inj 4 mins); J Barry for O’Dwyer (11); Patrick Maher for Shanahan (57), C Darcy for Kenny (68).

Waterford: S O’Keeffe; Shane Fives, B Coughlan, I Kenny; K Moran, A Gleeson, K Bennett; S Roche, C Dunford; DJ Foran, M O’Brien, B O’Halloran; Stephen Bennett, P Curran, M Kearney. Subs: P Hogan for Roche (18); S McNulty for Gleeson (inj 51); J Barron for O’Brien (54); P Mahony for Dunford (57); M Walsh for Bennett (60)

Referee: C Lyons (Cork).

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