Clinical Tipperary complete first task
Tipperary 2-17 Waterford 0-16: THE BARE maths of the closing verdict says that this was the most one-sided encounter in this year’s Munster championship and in a season when no other game was decided by more than four, the seven-point margin does look pretty damning.
Truth be told though, the scoreline tells a story that wouldn’t stand up under any kind of stiff questioning. Tipperary deserved their 41st Munster title, Waterford deserved better than to be an afterthought.
For most of the afternoon, they were anything but. The sides were level seven times and it wasn’t until Tipp substitute Shane Bourke swept home a cat-burglar’s goal in the 53rd minute than any great distance was put between the sides. It cracked the game open and gave Tipp a five-point lead, drawing a line that Waterford were never able to cross for the rest of the game.
Afterwards, Declan Ryan accentuated the recurring positive of being able to finish out the game better than Tipp’s opponents. Against both Limerick and Cork, they went in behind at the break and won the second half by five points. Yesterday they went in level and won by seven.
They made the slower start here, Waterford turning the scoreboard three times in the early stages before Tipp could manage it once. Shane Walsh and John Mullane put the Tipp full-back line back on their heels from opening bell and Pauric Mahony flicked over a score that made a promise the rest of his afternoon sadly failed to keep. All Tipp could find in reply was a Brian O’Meara point – not unlike Mahony, O’Meara’s day fizzled the further it went.
By contrast, John O’Brien’s goal on 10 minutes served notice of a significant afternoon’s work from the Tipp full forward. As Bonner Maher collected and moved menacingly towards goal, O’Brien peeled off to the left and found a dangerous angle. Maher’s offload was perfect, O’Brien’s finish low. Draw game, 1-1 to 0-4.
The Tipp half-back line got into its groove for the next while, Thomas Stapleton and Pádraic Maher mopping up just about every available ball as well as a few that didn’t look to be.
Tipp managed to stride three clear by the 20th minute but the sure striking of Maurice Shanahan from frees (two) and a 65 reeled them back in as the half progressed.
Shanahan was quietly having one of the days Waterford people having been expecting from him. His was the last score of the half, a towering point from distance that sent the sides in level and left him with a personal haul for the half of five points.
He’d even been a mite unlucky not to raise a green flag, a mazy run on 25 minutes eventually more crowded out than saved by Brendan Cummins. Had he repeated the dose in the second period, Waterford would have been closer come the end. But he was another who faded as time ticked on, eventually taking himself off the Waterford frees in favour of sub Eoin Kelly.