If the league is to be used to build a championship team, then this wasn’t a bad workout for these two sides, but both managers face serious injury concerns as the clock counts down to the start of the real business next month.
Séamus Callanan is Tipperary’s biggest concern after coming off with a knee injury, while another former Hurler of the Year, Austin Gleeson, is a major doubt for the start of Waterford’s championship campaign. He came off with a hamstring issue in the opening half, with 2021 All-Star Conor Prunty also doubtful for Waterford with a similar problem.
Tipperary manager Liam Cahill, playing against the side he managed for the past three seasons, said they would be going all out to claim a league title which has eluded the county since 2008.
“The league is a national title. I have a lot of respect for the league. I’m fortunate enough to have been part of a team that won two of them as a player. Not too many players have them,” said Cahill, a league winner in 1999 and 2001.
Their fourth win (4-23 to 0-25) of the campaign guarantees top spot of Group B in Division 1 and a semi-final spot as Jake Morris blasted home a hat-trick to inflict a first defeat of the campaign on the reigning champions.
“If you get to a final, it’s only two weeks to the first round of the Munster championship, where ultimately every team is judged, in the summer. "At this stage, we’ll be going after it and we’ll be doing our best to try to get to a final and try to win it,” added Cahill.
Callanan is his biggest concern and Cahill hopes some light will be shed on the scale of the injury today.
Davy Fitzgerald, whose side finished with 14 men when Jamie Barron was sent off after an off-the-ball incident after 56 minutes just after Morris had rattled home his second goal to edge 2-16 to 0-19 in front, said he had no issue with the decision by Wexford referee James Owens but felt it was a killer blow to their chances.
“I don’t think we can have complaints about the red card. He reacted. That’s fine. A reaction is a reaction, so we’ll have to take our medicine on that,” said Fitzgerald.
His primary concern now is a lengthy injury list which includes Shane McNulty, Mikey Kiely and Darragh Lyons, but which is headed by Gleeson and Prunty and he too is hoping to find the scale of the pair’s injuries this week.
“It depends (on) how bad they are. You’re looking from three to six weeks and Prunty is a big loss to us. We’re in a race against time with the Limerick game and missing two or three of them,” added Fitzgerald.
Waterford’s hopes of retaining the title will now come down to next weekend’s clash with Kilkenny, with Fitzgerald saying they would go full throttle for it.
“We will be without probably five or six starters for definite, but if we win it, we’re in a semi-final, so I’ll be trying to win it. The team I have out on the field will be the strongest team. Anyone that’s not injured that can play from my first team will be going out.”
Tipperary led by 1-12 to 0-11 at the end of a competitive opening half, where both sides enjoyed good spells in a fiery contest.
Free-taker Gearóid O’Connor landed eight points for Tipperary, with Stephen Bennett hitting five frees for Waterford in that opening half.