Tipperary Supporters Club

Founded 1986

Co. Tipperary

Dismal Tipperary live to fight another day despite loss to Waterford in Thurles

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Source: TipperaryLive.ie

Munster Senior Hurling Championship - Round 5

Tipperary 0-21

Waterford 1-24

Tipperary went into this Munster Championship closer in the driving seat to reach a Munster final, but by days end they were scrambling for the result of the other game in Limerick as a dismal performance from Liam Cahill’s team seen Waterford pounce and record an unlikely win in this round 5 clash in FBD Semple Stadium earlier this afternoon.

The tone was set early on how this game would pan out as Waterford - despite being down three regulars in Austin Gleeson, Jamie Barron, and Conor Prunty - took the early initiative to race into a 0-7 to 0-1 lead as Tipperary were looking incredibly jaded and a shadow of the team who went blow for blow with Limerick the previous week.

Essentially, Waterford blew Tipp away in the first half as they were far more combative and won nearly every fifty-fifty duel in that time, with Billy Nolan providing a good foil for them as the sweeper in a surprising move from Davy Fitzgerald.

Patrick Fitzgerald gave Michael Breen a torrid afternoon scoring three first half points, while Jack Fagan went to town as he had the freedom of Semple Stadium in the early parts of the game and plundered four points himself as the Tipperary defence was at sixes and sevens.

There was no answer from Tipp who trailed 0-17 to 0-8 at the break, with that poor effort being compounded further by the withdrawals of Gearoid O’Connor (ankle) and Brian McGrath (concussion) who had to be withdrawn, and despite a mini-purple patch at two stages of the second half which reduced the game to five points, a Dessie Hutchinson goal in the 52nd minute after a comedy of errors at the back from Tipp meant that a favour from elsewhere was needed for progression.

It was evidently clear from early doors that Tipperary were not at the races and lacked huge energy and urgency which Waterford took full advantage of in the first ten minutes with the relocated Jack Fagan - starting the game at centre forward - had a score on the board after less than ten seconds.

Gearoid O’Connor responded after a few minutes to level the game from a free from range but Waterford looked so sharp and hungry for the fight and Jack Fagan was having the freedom of the middle third to get shots off as he bagged two more points in the next ten minutes along with Patrick Fitzgerald’s brace and a score apiece from Peter Hogan and Calum Lyons had the miniscule Waterford crowd getting pumped as they led 0-7 to 0-1 after 12 minutes.

Seamus Callanan found the target a minute later after being found in acres of space by Bryan O’Mara to pop over a routine score but in general, the deployment of Billy Nolan as the sweeper was working wonders for Waterford, while they were also winning every Tipperary delivery inside - good, bad or otherwise.

Dessie Hutchinson and Patrick Fitzgerald were operating inside in a two man full forward line and they had Tipp in big bother as Hutchinson hit his first in the 15th minute along with a maiden effort from Neil Montgomery as Waterford continued to dominate possession.

Tipp were living off scraps as they found just their third point through Brian McGrath in the 17th minute after a trademark flick pass from older brother Noel, but it wasn’t stemming the Waterford tide in the slightest as they continued their ascendency in the final quarter.

After Gearoid O’Connor pointed two points in a row for himself around the 22nd minute mark, he was withdrawn due to an ankle injury and Waterford made hay with the six of the final seven points of the half through Patrick Fitzgerald, Stephen Bennett (two frees), Dessie Hutchinson (2) and a major from Billy Nolan, as Tipperary managed to bring the deficit down to single digits at half time with a Noel McGrath free going over to leave it 0-17 to 0-8 in favour of Waterford.

There was a huge sense of palpable panic in the stands during the break as news was filtering through that the unlikely results which would knock Tipperary out of Munster were happening, as Limerick and Cork were level in their game at the Gaelic Grounds, so big words were needed at half time from Liam Cahill to get some energy and urgency back into his players.

And the second half started in similar fashion to the first, with Waterford finding a very quick score through Neil Montgomery who ran unchallenged through midfield after gathering the throw-in.

Slowly but surely though, Tipp started to gradually pull themselves back into contention in the following ten minutes, although it was like an antique engine chugging into first gear, with three Noel McGrath placed balls and a point apiece from Mark Kehoe and Conor Bowe pulling the score-line back to a manageable five points gap with plenty of time left on the clock.

Tipp needed to win to qualify for a Munster final and needed to lose by no more than four points to qualify in third place, but they were dealt a massive suckerpunch in the 52nd minute as they were just coming into the game, when a long Waterford delivery dropped short to Rhys Shelly and the Tipp netminder dropped possession; and even when Bryan O’Mara looked to have the ball under control, the ball popped out of his hand and Dessie Hutchinson pounced to slot the ball into an empty net.

Stephen Bennett scored points either side of that goal (one from play) to reopen a seven point gap and Tipp tried to empty the bench to try and get a bit of energy into the play and had some joy as they outscored Waterford by 0-4 to 0-2 between the 54th and 62nd minute to once again pull it back to five points.

Goals were needed now as thoughts of actually winning the game and getting into a Munster final took a back seat as they Premier were trying to salvage their qualification, but there was always a response to a Tipperary score from Waterford with basic handling errors coughing up chances to the Déise as Ronan Maher, Noel McGrath and Eoghan Connolly found their range with the in the red - Waterford ahead 1-24 to 0-20.

There were a few small sniffs of goal for Tipp in added time but they could only muster a Seamus Callanan point from distance with two minutes remaining as Waterford broke their duct in both codes to record their first championship win in any grade in 2023.

Just as the final whistle was sounded in Thurles, there was just a single point in the game between Limerick and Cork in the Gaelic Grounds as the players and supporters awaited the result with bated breath, but mercifully for Tipp the word filtered through a minute later that Limerick had beaten Cork by just a single point to secure third place for Tipperary and a place in the All-Ireland series to go with it.

Tipperary will now play Offaly in a preliminary quarter-final in a few weeks time, as they were runners up to Carlow in Saturday’s Joe McDonagh Cup final. Such a poor performance will be savagely disappointing for Liam Cahill and his management team after such a positive campaign to date but it was a timely reminder that there is still plenty of work to be done.

Scorers: Tipperary: Noel McGrath 0-7f, Gearoid O’Connor (0-4, 0-3f), Seamus Callanan 0-3, Ronan Maher 0-2, Brian McGrath, Alan Tynan, Mark Kehoe, Conor Bowe, and Eoghan Connolly all 0-1 each.

Waterford: Stephen Bennett (0-9, 0-7f), Dessie Hutchinson 1-3, Jack Fagan, Patrick Fitzgerald 0-3 each, Neil Montgomery 0-2, Billy Nolan, Peter Hogan, Calum Lyons, and Patrick Curran all 0-1 each.

Tipperary: Rhys Shelly; Brian McGrath, Michael Breen, Ronan Maher; Eoghan Connolly, Bryan O’Mara, Dan McCormack; Alan Tynan, Seamus Kennedy; Conor Stakelum, Mark Kehoe, Gearoid O’Connor, Noel McGrath; Patrick Maher, Seamus Callanan.

Subs: Conor Bowe for O’Connor (inj, 25); Johnny Ryan for B McGrath (temp sub, 44, reversed after 50; Johnny Ryan for B McGrath (53); Sean Ryan for Stakelum (55); John McGrath for P Maher (60); Joe Fogarty for Kehoe (67).

Waterford: Shaun O’Brien; Iarlaith Daly, Mark Fitzgerald, Conor Gleeson; Darragh Lyons, Calum Lyons, Billy Nolan; Paddy Leavey, Jack Prendergast; Jack Fagan, Neil Montgomery, Stephen Bennett; Peter Hogan, Dessie Hutchinson, Patrick Fitzgerald.

Subs: Patrick Curran for Hutchinson (blood sub 8, reversed after 10); Conor Ryan for C Gleeson (temp sub, 27, reversed after 30); Patrick Curran for Montgomery (55); Colin Dunford for Prendergast (61); Kevin Mahony for Hogan (61); DJ Foran for P Fitzgerald (65); Conor Ryan for C Gleeson (73).

Referee: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny)

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