NEW Tipperary senior hurling manager Declan Ryan hailed the return of James Woodlock from injury yesterday as the midfielder returned to inter-county fare for the first time since the 2009 All-Ireland final.
Tipperary lost by just a point against Waterford IT in Ryan's first competitive game in charge and the three-time All-Ireland medallist was in the mood to accentuate the positives following this preliminary-round tie in Clonmel.
Ryan watched his experimental charges run up a decent 1-19 scoreline but it wasn't enough to defeat a WIT side inspired by his Clonoulty-Rossmore clubmate and Tipp senior panellist Timmy Hammersley, who finished with 1-10.
Offaly ace Cathal Parlon added 1-4 for WIT and Kilkenny's Liam Tierney also played his part with three magnificent saves to keep out Dara Egan twice in the first half and then thwart John O'Neill with 20 minutes remaining.
Tipp stormed into an early 1-4 to no score lead as O'Neill netted in the sixth minute but WIT were level at 1-6 apiece with 20 minutes on the watch and went on to lead by 2-10 to 1-9 at half-time.
Tipp, with just four players who featured against Kilkenny in last September's All-Ireland final involved here, were reliant on Pa Bourke's 11 points, but the Thurles Sarsfields man missed an injury-time free to tie the game.
Stephen Power was the hero for WIT with a free in the first minute of stoppage time to settle the issue after the sides had been level three times in the closing stages.
Tipperary boss Ryan reflected: "We brought in a few lads to have a look at. It was good to see them in action and we'll have to sit down and pick a panel to play in the league now, starting next month.
"I was delighted to see James Woodlock coming back after such a long injury lay-off -- that was certainly very pleasing."
Scorers -- Waterford IT: T Hammersley 1-10 (7f), C Parlon 1-4 (1 s-l), L Harney, K Grehan and S Power (f) 0-1 each.
Tipperary: P Bourke 0-11 (5f, 3 '65s), J O'Neill 1-1, S Carey, D Hickey 0-2 each, D Gleeson (f), D Young, S Lillis 0-1 each.
WATERFORD IT -- L Tierney; B Kenny, S Fives, N Connors; W Hutchinson, D Langton, E Barrett; W O'Dwyer, L Harney; C Parlon, B O'Meara, K Grehan; R McLoughney, M Sheedy, T Hammersley. Subs: E Hickey for O'Dwyer (h-t), J Gahan for Sheedy (58), S Power for Grehan (58), B Burke for Hammersley (70).
TIPPERARY -- D Gleeson; C O'Brien, J Coughlan, E Connolly; D Young, C O'Mahony, H Moloney; S Carey, M Gleeson; D Hickey, P Fanning, J Brennan; P Bourke, D Egan, J O'Neill.
Subs: J Woodlock for Gleeson, S Lillis for Hickey, J O'Dwyer for Egan (all h-t), T Dalton for Brennan (53), G Ryan for Fanning (56), B Dunne for O'Brien (70).
Ref -- J O'Mahony (Limerick).