Moran’s late strike sends Waterford top of the pile

Late scoring spree sees off Tipperary at Walsh Park

Waterford's Michael Walsh get s away from Tipperary’s  Noel McGrath during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1A match at Walsh Park. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Waterford's Michael Walsh get s away from Tipperary’s Noel McGrath during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1A match at Walsh Park. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Mon, Mar 25, 2013, 06:01

A last-minute point from captain Kevin Moran provided Waterford with a table-topping win over Tipperary at a chilly Walsh Park yesterday, to put them within touching distance of the semi-finals.

In this most competitive of National Leagues, Waterford have proven a worthy adversary for all they've faced thus far, and came into yesterday's clash with Tipp, feeling they'd left two points behind in Kilkenny last Monday.

But, even as they had in defeat at Nowlan Park, Waterford finished the stronger of the two sides on show, rattling off six unanswered points, with the final brace of points - from Jake Dillon and Moran, converted in the final three minutes.

With a strong wind blowing in their favour, Tipperary opened their account through Seamus Callanan after just 10 seconds, with Brian O'Halloran replying for the hosts in the fifth minute.

Callanan, who provided Waterford full-back Liam Lawlor with a tough examination throughout an icy afternoon's hurling, turned provider for Shane Bourke after 12 minutes, 60 seconds before Callanan converted his first free of the game.

Tipperary, due in no small part to the expert fielding of Paraic Maher and razor sharp captain Shane McGrath, were hoovering up swathes of possession while Waterford, in contrast, were labouring somewhat. Callanan struck again in the 17th minute to extend the Munster champions' advantage, three minutes before Waterford finally ignited.

Having finally worked the sliotar beyond the superb Maher, Maurice Shanahan's incisive pass from the right flank released Jamie Barron, who expertly drilled the ball hard and low, beyond the diving Brendan Cummins. His first senior inter-county goal couldn't have been better timed, providing Waterford with some desperately required impetus.

Injecting some direct running into their attacking forays bolstered Waterford's challenge, as evidenced by Maurice Shanahan's winning a 21st minute free, duly despatched by Martin O'Neill, a late call-up for the flu-ridden Shane Walsh.

But back came Tipperary, with two points inside a minute from Shane McGrath and Lar Corbett to edge themselves back in front by the 22nd minute, with Noel McGrath putting them two points clear by the 25th minute.

Callanan scored from a 65 come the 26th minute of a lively encounter before Shanahan found a reply for Waterford two minutes later to reduce their arrears to a couple of points.

Brian O'Meara pointed just shy of the half-hour mark while the ever-industrious Jake Dillon found the range as the first half entered its 34th minute. And thanks to two further O'Neill frees, the sides went in level at the break.

A tense second half saw Tipperary begin much the stronger, with three Callanan frees giving them a deserved lead by the 43rd minute. Martin O'Neill finally opened Waterford's post-interval account four minutes later, only for Callanan to pick off two more fine points in the 50th and 53rd minutes respectively.

Waterford's Pauric Mahony converted a free just a matter of seconds after his 56th minute introduction, before Brian O'Meara and Callanan ultimately completed Tipperary's scoring.

Trailing by four points with 10 minutes remaining, Waterford produced a barn-storming finish, which even included two uncharacteristic misses from Mahony via a free and 65, which most in the 4,000-plus attendance thought would prove costly.

But Mahony held his nerve to convert 60th and 62nd minute frees, before Jamie Barron and Jake Dillon picked off terrific points to restore parity as additional time beckoned.

And with time running out, despite the presence of three Tipperary men within his midst, Moran, with a stunning 40-metre strike from wide on the left flank, produced the type of score which John Mullane had so often provided for Waterford this past decade. And it proved to be the most dramatic of winners.

Waterford: Ian O'Regan; Shane Fives, Liam Lawlor, Stephen Daniels; Jamie Nagle, Michael Walsh, Kevin Moran; Shane O'Sullivan, Paudie Prendergast; Brian O'Halloran, Seamus Prendergast, Maurice Shanahan; Jake Dillon, Martin O'Neill, Jamie Barron.

Subs: Pauric Mahony for O'Neill (55 mins), Brian O'Sullivan for Shanahan (58).

Scorers: Jamie Barron (1-1), Martin O'Neill and Pauric Mahony (0-4f) each, Jake Dillon (0-2), Maurice Shanahan, Brian O'Halloran and Kevin Moran (0-1 each).

Tipperary: Brendan Cummins, Donagh Maher, Paul Curran, Michael Cahill; Conor O'Brien, Thomas Stapleton, Padraic Maher; James Woodlock, Shane McGrath; Brian O'Meara, Noel McGrath, Adrian Ryan; Shane Bourke, Seamus Callanan, Lar Corbett.

Subs: Eoin Kelly for Ryan; Brendan Maher for N McGrath (both HT); John O'Dwyer for Bourke (49 mins), Pa Bourke for Woodlock (62), Jason Forde for O'Meara (67).

Scorers: Seamus Callanan (0-9; 0-4f, 0-1 65'), Lar Corbett and Brian O'Meara (0-2 each), S McGrath, N McGrath and B O'Meara (0-1 each)

Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork)