Liam Cahill put through emotional wringer as Waterford take out Tipperary

‘I do feel sorry that Tipp had to exit the championship on the back of a team that I was over’

Waterford 4-28 Tipperary 2-27

Liam Cahill’s spin cycle of emotions were fully displayed at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday after his adopted county ended his home sod’s MacCarthy Cup ambitions for another year following a contest of epic proportions.

“Today doesn’t make me any taller, to be honest and I take no pleasure in being part of this Waterford team that knocked Tipperary out of the championship . . . it was a difficult place to be today. But look, a job had to be done and it was done and we move on.”

He added: “I know [the Tipperary players] wouldn’t want pity, because that’s not the type of players they are but I do feel sorry that Tipp had to exit the championship on the back of a team that I was over.


“I have no problems in saying that, and I think the Waterford people will understand that as well . . . but thankfully now, we’re back in the last four, 70 minutes away from where we were last year, in an All-Ireland final, if we can get the business done next weekend.”

A stoppage-time goal by substitute Neil Montgomery steered Waterford into a second successive All-Ireland semi-final, while also securing a first championship win over Tipperary since 2008. They will face defending champions Limerick next Saturday in Croke Park.

At the break, Waterford led by 2-14 to 2-13 following a blistering end-to-end opening half. Points by Patrick Curran, Jack Fagan and Dessie Hutchinson sent the Déisemen three points clear inside three minutes before Jason Forde opened Tipperary's account.

Jamie Barron, producing another dynamic performance, rifled over two points inside 60 seconds to leave Waterford four clear by the fifth minute.

From the next attack, Stephen Bennett looked set to goal for Waterford only to be denied by a brilliant Cathal Barrett block. Tipperary immediately worked the ball swiftly upfield with Séamus Callanan, fed by Noel McGrath, finding the net from close range. Just seconds later, Callanan goaled again, capitalising on Conor Prunty's slip to send Tipperary, somewhat incredibly, two points ahead.

Waterford soon had a goal of their own through Austin Gleeson, whose 11th-minute strike was the end product of an intricate build-up involving Stephen Bennett, Jack Prendergast and Barron.

John O'Dwyer and Gleeson (via a sideline cut) traded points before Michael Breen and Stephen Bennett repeated the pattern. Jason Forde's free and Shane McNulty's fine strike from the deep brought the sides level again by the 19th minute before Jack Fagan edged the Déisemen ahead. In the 22nd minute, following superb interventions by Prendergast and Patrick Curran, Hutchinson's ground stroke flew beyond Barry Hogan to send Waterford three clear.

With the surface proving slippy following a brief interval shower, Waterford moved four points clear thanks to Stephen Bennett’s 41st-minute point before the match’s chief talking point arrived on the three-quarter hour mark.

Referee Colm Lyons, at close quarters at the time of the incident, adjudged that Breen had impeded a goalbound Gleeson, who'd been sent through by Michael Kiely.

Stephen Bennett converted the resulting penalty to send Waterford seven points clear.

By the 53rd minute, with Barron and Peter Hogan dominating the midfield battle, Waterford were 3-21 to 2-16 clear. Moments later, Callanan surely thought he'd completed another championship hat-trick after Shaun O'Brien parried Noel McGrath's shot into his path - only to pull the ball inches wide.

Between the 61st and 69th minutes, Tipperary outscored Waterford by 0-5 to 0-1, with substitutes Mark Kehoe and Willie Connors contributing points as the tension rose.

Then John McGrath almost brought the game level in the last minute but was denied by a brilliant save from O’Brien, who deflected his shot over the bar.

In the first additional minute, substitute Montgomery calmed Waterford nerves by scoring  his side’s final goal. Colin Dunford well and truly sealed the deal when sending over his team’s 28th point of an absorbing contest.

A disappointed and proud Liam Sheedy felt his side "gave it everything".

“There’s exceptional character in that dressingroom. A good side, Waterford, they played very well. The penalty looked like it was a big moment, it looked inconclusive to me – was it or wasn’t it? – but normally we’d execute those three chances that we got . . . but none of them went inside the post.”

Cahill felt his side had produced the more consistent hurling throughout a stunning contest.

“I think Tipperary lived off a lot of our scraps and mistakes to keep with us but I’m happy that we got there in the end . . . You have to ride the punches and they come fast and heavy here with the quality of teams that are on display at the moment. But we’re delighted to get over the line.”

WATERFORD: S O'Brien; I Kenny, C Prunty, S McNulty (0-1); C Lyons (0-1), Shane Bennett, K Bennett (0-2); J Barron (0-4), P Hogan (0-3); J Fagan (0-2), J Prendergast, Stephen Bennett (1-3; 1-0 pen, 0-1 frees); D Hutchinson (1-3), A Gleeson (1-3; two s/l), P Curran (0-1).

Subs: K Moran for Shane Bennett (blood, 23-33), M Kiely (0-2) for P Curran (44), N Montgomery (1-2) for J Prendergast (59), D Lyons for J Fagan (64), B Power for P Hogan (65), S Fives for S McNulty (blood, 65-66), C Dunford (0-1) for A Gleeson (71).

TIPPERARY: B Hogan; C Barrett; P Maher, B Heffernan; P Cadell, B Maher, R Maher (0-3); A Flynn, M Breen (0-3); J Forde (0-12; six frees, three 65s), N McGrath (0-1), D McCormack; J Morris, J O'Dwyer (0-4), S Callanan (2-0).

Subs: S Kennedy for B Heffernan (h-t), M Kehoe (0-1) for J Morris (44), W Connors (0-1) for D McCormack (48), N O'Meara for J O'Dwyer (53), J McGrath (0-2) for S Callanan (56).

Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork).