Allianz HL D1: Tipperary cruise to victory
Allianz Hurling League Division One Group B
Tipperary 2-32 Laois 0-18
By Noel Dundon at FBD Semple Stadium
Tipperary Manager Liam Cahill got his Allianz National Hurling League campaign with his native county off to a winning start at FBD Semple Stadium this evening when his side blitzed visitors Laois in the first half and went on to record an impressive victory.
Cahill managed Waterford to win the league in 2022 and obviously puts a lot of emphasis on these games. Tipperary arrived at Semple Stadium in brilliant shape and their showing against their neighbours gave plenty of notice as to the intentions of the Premier County in the competition - Tipp won the last of their 19 titles in 2008.
A perfect evening for hurling, this game featured not just the clash of Tipperary, but also the clash of clubmates Liam Cahill and WIlliam Maher who were in opposing corners as Managers of Tipperary and Laois, but who soldiered together in the same maroon and white colours of Ballingarry for many years - it was an interesting sidebar to the game which was a repeat of last year's Allianz opener, though the match on that occasion was played in O'Moore Park, Portlaoise.
However, the games were totally different in their form. A year ago Laois gave Tipperary a right battle in what was Colm Bonnar's first outing as Tipp Manager in the League. On this occasion there was no such battle. Tipperary totally whitewashed the visitors who were simply unable to match the crisp, precise play of the Premier lads allied to their huge workrate epitomised by midfielder Conor Stakelum, who dashed all over the field and helped himself to three points from play in the first half.
Tipperary took a massive 1-17 to 0-7 interval lead to the dressing room with them - centre forward Gearoid O'Connor accounting for eight of those scores in his league debut. The goal came in the 12th minute from Seamus Kennedy after he had been set up by the very influential Patrick 'Bonnar' Maher - hurling off the edge of the square, Bonnar was central to all that was good about Tipperary on the night and set up so many scores in that first half, without actually managing a raised flag himself.
While Tipperary were throwing the ball about brilliantly and John McGrath (2), Cian Dwyer (2), Sean Ryan and Ronan Maher also had scores, there were also eleven wides from Liam Cahill's men - one aspect of the game he would not have been pleased with.
But, there was a lot to like from Tipp even if Laois were totally off the pace and even by the half way mark, they were fighting for pride - PJ Scully (3), Fiachra Fennell, Tomas Keyes (2) and William Dunphy accounting for their scores.
Tipperary ended up with 13 scores on the board by game end with 1-5 struck by substitutes. Jake Morris accounted for 1-2 of that total with his goal coming right at the end when the game had been well and truly put to bed.
Laois fared a little better in the second half but they still ended up on the receiving end of a very stern lesson in precision hurling. A 20 point defeat is a chastening one and William Maher will have much to do to rally the troops again. However, credit to them, they never gave up the chase and continued to play through the lines in so far as they could in a bid to bring their best game to the clash.
Both sides emptied their bench on the night with the maximum number of players getting a run out.
Scorers for Tipperary: Gearoid O'Connor 0-11 (7fs, 165), Jake Morris 1-2, Seamus Kennedy 1-1, Ronan Maher and Conor Stakelum 0-3 each, Cian O'Dwyer, John McGrath, and Seán Ryan 0-2 each, Cathal Barrett, Brian McGrath, Noel McGrath, Mark Kehoe, John Campion, and Conor Bowe 0-1 each.
Scorers for Laois: PJ Scully 0-6 (5fs), Tomas Keyes 0-4, James Keyes 0-2, Fiachra Fennell, Jason Duggan, Patrick Purcell, Liam Senior, Ross King, and Ryan Mullaney 0-1 each.
Tipperary: Barry Hogan, Cathal Barrett, Michael Breen, Johnny Ryan, Bryan O'Mara, Ronan Maher, Brian McGrath, Noel McGrath, Conor Stakelum, Seamus Kennedy, Gearoid O'Connor, Cian O'Dwyer, John McGrath, Patrick Maher, Sean Ryan.
Subs: John Campion for Conor Stakelum; Mark Kehoe for Patrick Maher; Jake Morris for Cian O'Dwyer; Paddy Cadell for Noel McGrath; Conor Bowe for John McGrath.
Laois: Enda Rowland, Donnchadh Kennedy, Padraig Delaney, Padraic Dunne, Jack Kelly, Ryan Mullaney, Fiachra Fennell, Aidan Corby, Tomas Keyes, Aaron Dunphy, William Dunphy, James Keyes, Stephen Maher, PJ Scully, Martin Phelan.
Subs: Ross King for William Dunphy; Patrick Purcell for Aaron Dunphy; James Deegan for Martin Phelan; Ian Shanahan for Aidan Corby; Liam Senior for Stephen Maher.
Referee: Johnny Murphy