Maurice Shanahan inspires Waterford to Offaly victory
Maurice Shanahan turned on the performance of his life to propel Waterford into the next phase of the qualifiers, scoring an incredible 13 points, eight from play, before a crowd of 8,200 at Tullamore tonight.
Offaly into a strong wind in the first half and helped by an early Shane Dooley goal they were only for points adrift at the interval.
They managed to draw level by the 47th minute but then Walsh took over and Shanahan could not stop scoring.
But there was a late scare when Stephen O'Keeffe made a critical save from Dan Currams two minutes from
the end, with Waterford holding a four-point advantage.
Had they lost it would have been Waterford's earliest summer exit since 2001. But they deserved their victory with Offaly running out of steam and disappointing in the final 20 minutes when they had the wind at their backs.
The second half started dramatically when Seamus Prendergast looked to be held bearing down on goal but James McGrath waved on play.
Offaly countered with three points in quick succession to narrow the gap to one, two from Brian Carroll and an excellent finish off the stick by Joe Bergin.
By then they look good to follow up on their promising show against Kilkenny. But Waterford had more in the tank.
Waterford needed bottle and they showed it. Brian O'Sullivan scored a beauty from the sideline and Shanahan, in rampant form, hit his ninth, and sixth from play with 50 minutes play to reopen a two-point lead.
Offaly time on level terms lasted seconds. From there Walsh emerged as a powerful influence, draining the life out of Offaly attacks and repelling raid after raid.
By the hour mark Waterford were 0-18 to 1-13 in front and doing most of the hurling.
A Shanahan free, his 11th score, left them a goal to the good. Offaly, in spite of the wind, spent much of the half defending.
The strenuous objector to short passing will have filed away Offaly's opening goal for his case against the practice.
Waterford full back Liam Lawlor gathered possession seven minutes into the game, then attempted to hand pass beyond Offaly cover to Shane Fives in a more advanced field position.
The ball, high risk in any weather, held in the wind, Dooley intercepted and was through on goal.
After a quiet day against Kilkenny, Dooley made the most of his early chance and rifled the ball past a helpless O'Keeffe.
By then Waterford had done most of the early work, having lost the toss and played with the strong wind that made accuracy a challenge.
Offaly puckouts were dropping in a congested midfield and Waterford emerged with the lion's share.
By they hit seven first half wides to Offaly's sole miss, and two of those were outside goal pots from Paudie Prendergast and Kevin Moran, both midfielders seeing the glory and missing the target when points would have been the more prudent shot selection.
Offaly grew into the match after Dooley's pilfered goal and used their considerable size to good effect.
Currams scored a good point from full forward and set up another for Joe Bergin.
When Derek Molloy went off injury on came Conor Mahon, another lad not lacking inches, and he burrowed his way through for another score. But for good handling by O'Keeffe in the Waterford goal the havoc wreaked could have been worse.
Still, but the interval Offaly had to be pleased, just four adrift, 1-6 to Waterford's 0-13.
Shanahan started full forward but played in three different positions in the first half and scored seven points, four from play. Offaly defended stoutly, with some excellent fielding by Ger Healion and David Kenny and forced Waterford to shoot from distance.
They also reduced the free concession rate, which hurt them in the loss to Kilkenny. Shanahan had only four free attempts in the first half despite Waterford having a strong wind and he missed one of those.
Jake Dillon caused Offaly problems earlier on with strong running and he scored two first half points and set up another for Moran.
Scorers: Waterford - M Shanahan 0-13 (0-5 fs); B O'Sullivan 0-3; J Dillon 0-2; K Moran, S O'Sullivan P Prendergast 0-1. Offaly - S Dooley 1-4 (0-4 fs); J Bergin, B Carroll, K Brady, D Currams 0-2; C Mahon, D Morkan 0-1.
Offaly: J Dempsey; C McDonald, D Kenny, D Mooney; R Hanniffy, G Healion, D Morkan; Br Carroll, K Brady; C Egan, D Molloy, C Slevin; S Dooley, D Currams, J Bergin.
Subs:C Mahon for Molloy (inj 10 mins); P Cleary for Mooney (42); S Cleary for Slevin (52); S Gardiner for Cleary (56); S Ryan for K Brady (70).
Waterford: S O'Keeffe; S Fives, L Lawlor, N Connors; J Nagle, M Walsh, D Fives; P Prendergast, K Moran; M Shanahn, S Prendergast, S O'Sullivan; J Barron, J Dillon, B O'Sullivan.
Subs: P Mahony for Barron (40 mins); M O'Neill for S Prendergast (59); R Foley for D Fives (63);
Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath).