Tipperary find high-tempo groove to end Wexford’s run
Jason Forde leads the way with haul of 2-9 at Semple Stadium
Tipperary’s Patrick Maher is tackled by Wexford’s Liam Ryan during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1A match at Semple Stadium in Thurles. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho
Tipperary 3-21 Wexford 1-21
With plenty of fire and not too much fuss, Tipperary have put an end to Wexford’s unbeaten record of 2018 – Jason Forde proving to be the chief tormentor after his night of quiet fury at Semple Stadium.
Forde finished with 2-9, his goal on 13 minutes the strike of the match, his second-half goal, on 43 minutes, neatly laid-off by John McGrath.
Wexford ended up rueing quite a few missed chances, including two late goal chances for Conor McDonald, but there was no denying Tipp’s superiority as time and space elapsed.
Indeed Wexford somehow managed to claw it back to three points as the clock spilled into injury time, only for Patrick ‘Bonnar’ Maher to close out the deal for Tipp with his thundering goal.
It was the first meeting between the teams since the shove-gate incident in their league semi-final last April, resulting in bans for Forde and Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald. No such fury here, Tipp essentially dealing with Wexford as well as they did that day.
In the end it saw 11 Tipp players scoring in the still clear night at Semple Stadium, in front of a crowd of 8,358. Forde’s eight frees were textbook, as was his sideline cut. Noel and John McGrath both chipped in nicely, as did Pádraic Maher late on.
With Cork and Waterford already scalped – Kilkenny too in the Walsh Cup final – Wexford came to Semple Stadium hungry for more. Instead, they found themselves trailing Tipp by seven points at the break, and it remained uphill from there until the end.
David Dunne, who missed the Cork game, was a little off-colour, and Lee Chin wasn’t quite himself either – although he did partly make up for it with a late flurry of scores, finishing with 0-10.
Still, Tipp pressed on with relative ease in the second half, even if Wexford never gave up the chase.
With Shaun Murphy sitting back again as sweeper, Wexford found their shape and sharpness first – firing over the three opening points inside five minutes, Kevin Foley gifted one of them by a shaky Tipp defence.
Suddenly, Tipp settled – Seán Curran laying off to Forde as he approached the 20-metre line, Forde’s shot gently crashing into the top of the net – a bullet with butterfly wings. That livened things up nicely, Wexford’s next attack seeing Chin dragged down and Aidan Nolan sweet-spotting the resulting penalty.
Ill-discipline started to cost Tipp and Paul Morris tapped over two frees in quick succession, leaving it 1-7 to 1-5. That didn’t last long, however, as those frees quickly shifted against Wexford. Forde punished them with three in succession, pressing Tipp three points clear in front in the process.
That inspired a few more Tipp men to get in on the act, Barry Heffernan and Donagh Maher shooting over points from long range, Michael Breen adding another closer to goal to make it 1-15 to 1-8 just in time for the break – all six Tipp forwards scoring from play by then
They put on the Chariots of Fire soundtrack at half-time, and Wexford might well have felt like they were playing in slow motion even if they did speed things up to get back into it, but too little, too late.
Tipperary, still without Séamus Callanan and Bubbles O’Dwyer, have found their groove. Wexford had gone 13 years since their last league win over Tipp; make that unbeaten record 14 and counting.
TIPPERARY: D Mooney; S O’Brien, J Barry, D Maher (0-1); B Heffernan (0-1), P Maher (capt) (0-1), P Feehan; B Maher, R Maher (0-1); S Curran (0-1), N McGrath (0-2), P Maher (1-2); M Breen (0-1), J Forde (2-9, eight frees, one sideline), J McGrath (0-1).
Subs: B McCarthy (0-1) for Heffernan (52 mins), G Browne for Curran (60), M Russell for Breen (66).
WEXFORD: M Fanning; D Reck, L Ryan, C Firman; P Foley, M O’Hanlon (co-capt), S Murphy (0-1); D O’Keeffe, A Nolan (1-0, a penalty); K Foley (0-2), D Dunne (0-1), J O’Connor (0-2); P Morris (0-3, all frees), L Chin (0-10, two 65s, four frees), C McDonald (0-1).
Subs: R O’Connor (0-1) for McDonald (48 mins), C Dunbar for Dunne (59), H Kehoe for Murphy (62), E Martin for O’Keeffe (70)
Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath)