Allianz HL D1: Waterford impress against Tipperary
Allianz Hurling League Division 1
WATERFORD 2-29 TIPPERARY 3-21
Waterford made a real statement of intent in Walsh Park this afternoon with a deserved victory over Tipperary.
They won by five points in the end, but it could have been more had they not missed a clutch of good goal-scoring chances in the second-half.
The manner in which they ran through the Tipperary defence almost at will at times in the second-half will have given the Premier County’s manager, Liam Sheedy, real food for thought ahead of the Championship.
The longer the game went on the more Tipperary struggled to match the energy of Waterford’s overall play, and the manner in which their full-back line was taken apart over the course of match was not exactly a confidence booster ahead of the Championship.
There was just one downer on an otherwise very encouraging day for Waterford – the sight of Austin Gleeson limping off the field in the first half just two weeks out from a Championship opener against Clare.
On a hot day in Walsh Park the hurling was of a similar temperature from the start.
Michael Breen opened the scoring for Tipperary in the first minute but Waterford responded immediately through Peter Hogan and the end to end terms of engagement were already set.
The first real breakthrough of the match came on six minutes when Jason Forde banged home the first goal after jinking to the left and driving towards goal before firing off a shot on his left side.
Brendan Maher then fired over a long-range point and the sight of the Tipperary half-backs raising white flags would become a real feature of the first half with Seamus Kennedy also landing one and Ronan Maher hitting two.
With the wind at their backs, Tipperary were having slightly the better of it, but whenever the ball made its way into the Waterford full-forward line of Shane and Stephen Bennett and Dessie Hutchinson they looked capable of doing damage.
Paudie Maher had impressed at full-back so far in the League for Tipp, but he was finding the pace and jinking feet of Shane Bennett a real handful and it was a point from the Ballysaggart man that brought the curtain down on the first quarter with the Premier County leading by 1-9 to 0-8.
It looked like Tipperary were starting to really take charge when points from Forde, Ronan Maher, and Morris pushed them six points clear, but then Dessie Hutchinson knocked Liam Sheedy’s teams for six by scoring two goals in the space of four minutes.
For the first he showed great skill to double the ball to the net after Shane Prendergast had ripped open the Tipp defence with surging run before hand-passing to Hutchinson.
And his predatory instincts were soon on show again as he won a ball ahead of Cathal Barrett, raced towards goal and buried the sliotar in the bottom corner to put Waterford 2-11 to 1-12 ahead.
It was Tipperary who had the final say of the half though when they scored a second goal of their own. Seamus Callanan and Jake Morris worked hard to force a turn-over and when Morris then passed to Noel McGrath the Loughmore man finished coolly to put his team 2-13 to 2-12 ahead at the break.
Waterford had the breeze at their backs in the second-half and quickly made the most of it by reeling off four points in quick succession. They missed two glorious goal-chances too as Michael Kiely struck the post from close range and Ronan Maher cleared another effort off the Tipperary line.
By the second-half water-break Waterford led by four points, and they never really looked like losing the match from there.
A Seamus Callanan goal after 58 minutes that was followed by a John McGrath point briefly cut the gap to a point, but Waterford simply put their foot on the accelerator again as Stephen Bennet landed four more frees to help seal a very impressive victory.
Scorers for Waterford: Stephen Bennett 0-15 (10f, 0-1 ‘65), Dessie Hutchinson 2-2, Shane Bennett, Jack Fagan, Peter Hogan 0-2 each, Billy Power, Michael Kiely, Ciaran Kirwan, Kieran Bennett, Jack Prendergast, Calum Lyons 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tipperary: Jason Forde 1-5 (4f), Noel McGrath 1-2, Seamus Callanan 1-1, Ronan Maher 0-4 (0-1 ’65), Jake Morris 0-3, Brendan Maher, Seamus Kennedy, Michael Breen, Alan Flynn, Willie Connors, John McGrath 0-1 each.
WATERFORD: Billy Nolan; Shane Fives, Conor Prunty, Ian Kenny; Calum Lyons, Iarlaith Daly, Kevin Moran; Austin Gleeson, Darragh Lyons; Peter Hogan, Jack Fagan, Stephen Bennett; Dessie Hutchinson, Shane Bennett, Jack Prendergast. Subs: C Gleeson for Fives inj (25), K Bennett for A Gleeson inj (32), D Lynch for Prunty inj and M Kiely for Fagan inj (both half-time), B Power for Hogan temp sub (43-47), C Kirwan for Hutchinson (48), B Power for Daly (55).
TIPPERARY: Brian Hogan; Cathal Barrett, Padraic Maher, Barry Heffernan; Brendan Maher, Seamus Kennedy, Ronan Maher; Alan Flynn, Paddy Cadell; Dan McCormack, Noel McGrath, Michael Breen; Jason Forde, Seamus Callanan, Jake Morris. Subs: C Morgan for Barrett temp sub (17-19), W Connors for P Caddell (half-time), Morgan for Kennedy (44), M Kehoe for McCormack and J McGrath for Flynn (both 49), E Connolly for Heffernan (64), P Flynn for Forde (67).
Referee: James Owens (Wexford)