Tipperary got their Allianz Hurling League campaign off to the most comfortable of starts with a powerful first half performance setting them on their way past a poor Laois side in FBD Semple Stadium earlier this evening.
An unanswered total of 1-7 between the fifth and 18th minute had Tipperary in a commanding position with the goal being scored by the newly positioned forward figure of Seamus Kennedy, and in all reality, it was game over at half time as Laois couldn’t muster any sort of challenge thereafter.
Liam Cahill will be happy with the application of his team in the first real competitive action of the 2023 season but he will be concerned with the injury picked up by Conor Stakelum at the start of the second half, but all things considered it was a good workout for Tipp.
For the first five or so minutes of the start of the game, both teams were struggling to get into a rhythm but it was Gearoid O’Connor who got the scoring up and running with a left sided strike after being teed up by Patrick Maher.
James Keyes responded from the next play to quickly level the game and get the Laois men going but Tipp began to dominate the play as Ronan Maher was mopping up possession as the loose defender behind the half back line, with Gearoid O’Connor bagging the next three points from placed balls to put Tipp ahead 0-4 to 0-1 after 11 minutes.
There was nearly a score a minute for Tipp in the next ten minutes as the rare sight of Seamus Kennedy hitting the back of the net for Tipp’s first goal of the day, after drifting in behind the defence as Patrick Maher picked him out with a clever hand pass.
Gearoid O’Connor was playing some great stuff and had his second point from play soon after, and that was closely followed by a Cian O’Dwyer score after picking up a recycled ball after Sean Ryan was denied a goal by a clever Enda Rowland save.
Indeed, Laois couldn’t get their hands on the ball once the play went past their half back line, with Conor Stakelum running amok scoring two lovely points from play by the 18th minute; the second of which was set up by Patrick Maher who was giving Podge Delaney a torrid time.
A well taken Fiachra Fennell stopped the rot for Laois as they only picked off their second score of the day in the 18th minute, but there was huge momentum swinging Tipp’s way as John McGrath, Cian O’Dwyer, Sean Ryan, and two further Gearoid O’Connor frees had Tipp in a comfortable position ahead 1-13 to 0-3; PJ Scully bagging a free soon after.
Tipp very nearly had their second goal of the game in the 34th minute when Cian O’Dwyer was put in on goal, and when he checked back onto his left and struck a powerful shot, but was denied by a clever save from Enda Rowland in the Laois goals.
Conor Stakelum was almost omnipresent for Tipp in the first half, with his workrate meaning he was popping all over the field, and he was timing some runs off the shoulder brilliantly which led to the Thurles man scoring his third and fourth points of the game.
It was slightly scrappy towards the end of the half as Tipp’s accuracy trailed off slightly, but further scores from John McGrath and Gearoid O’Connor added to Tipp’s total as Laois were being pulled along by three points from Tomas Keyes gave them some hope as Tipp led 1-17 to 0-7 at the break.
Laois made a double change at half time and they started the second half with promise, scoring two of the first three points of the half with the newly introduced Jason Duggan and a second from James Keyes the providers.
There was a worrying sight for supporters with the image of Conor Stakelum going off after picking up an innocuous looking injury trying to run for a ball, but that loss didn’t prevent Tipp from moving out ahead once again, thanks to two Ronan Maher points and a major from distance from Brian McGrath.
That put the Premier 1-21 to 0-9 ahead at the 45 minute mark and the teams traded six scores up to the 53rd minute with the Tipp scores coming from young John Campion and Gearoid O’Connor and from here, the game went to a more pedestrian pace.
The Tipp bench was emptied in the last quarter of the half to good with points coming from Mark Kehoe, Jake Morris, and Conor Bowe while Seamus Kennedy also added a further score to his tally as Laois were living off good efforts from the impressive Tomas Keyes at midfield.
Supporters began to leave just before the end with the result well wrapped up but Jake Morris put the gloss on the final score with a well struck goal after being set ip by Seamus Kennedy, and late scores from Sean Ryan and another Morris point sent Tipp over the edge to a routine win.
Positive performances came from Patrick Maher who really impressed in the first half setting up countless scores, while Conor Stakelum, Sean Ryan, and Seamus Kennedy really featured strongly throughout.
Next up for Tipp is a tough away clash against old rivals Kilkenny in Nowlan Park next Sunday.
Scorers: Tipperary: Gearoid O’Connor (0-11, 0-7f, 0-1 65), Jake Morris 1-2, Seamus Kennedy 1-1, Conor Stakelum 0-4, Cian O’Dwyer, Sean Ryan, John McGrath, Ronan Maher, Noel McGrath, Cathal Barrett, Brian McGrath, John Campion, Mark Kehoe, Conor Bowe all 0-1 each.
Laois: PJ Scully (0-6, 0-5f), Tomas Keyes 0-4, James Keyes 0-2, Fiachra Fennell, Jason Duggan, Paddy Purcell, Liam Senior, Ross King, Ryan Mullaney all 0-1 each.
Tipperary: Barry Hogan; Johnny Ryan, Michael Breen, Cathal Barrett; Bryan O’Mara, Ronan Maher, Brian McGrath; Conor Stakelum, Noel McGrath; Seamus Kennedy, Gearoid O’Connor, Cian O’Dwyer; John McGrath, Patrick Maher, Sean Ryan.
Subs: John Campion for Stakelum (37, inj); Jake Morris for O’Dwyer (50); Mark Kehoe for P Maher (50); Paddy Cadell for N McGrath (60); Conor Bowe for J McGrath (62).
Laois: Enda Rowland; Donnchadh Hartnett, Padraig Delaney, Padraic Dunne; James Kelly, Ryan Mullaney, Fiachra Fennell; Aidan Corby, Tomas Keyes; Aaron Dunphy, Willie Dunphy, James Keyes; Stephen Maher, PJ Scully, Martin Phelan.
Subs: Ross King for W Dunphy (33, inj); Paddy Purcell for A Dunphy (HT) Jason Duggan for Phelan (HT); Ian Shanahan for Corby (58); Liam Senior for Maher (60).
Referee: Johnny Kelly (Limerick)