Waterford’s 14 men hold off Galway revival to win Thurles thriller

Liam Cahill praises his side for holding their nerve as Tribesmen ate into 16-point lead

Waterford 1-30 Galway 3-20

Sixteen points is a dangerous lead in hurling as Waterford found that out in Semple Stadium on Saturday.

The Déise fans gave their heroes a standing ovation at half-time and at full-time as the 14 men held on for victory in a grandstand finish with Galway.

Waterford led by 1-25 to 0-12 entering the last quarter but the Tribesmen hit back with three goals, two from super-sub Jason Flynn and one from Cathal Mannion, to leave just three between them in injury-time.

READ MORE

Joe Canning became the top scorer in championship history during that comeback. The leaders needed late, late points from sub Michael Kiely and top scorer Stephen Bennett to secure a place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals for the second year in a row.

"It's the topsy-turvy nature of championship hurling," remarked Waterford boss Liam Cahill. "Hurling is gone so fast and so lethal now that even a 16-point lead isn't comfortable!"

He praised the spirit of his side when faced with adversity. “You’d have to be proud of the players, the way they showed great character. That lead slipped back to three points with five minutes to go, a team of lesser quality could easily have been turned over.

“They showed it again last week in Nowlan Park against Laois. Great heart and great determination, that’s what I’m seeing in these players every night in training since I arrived in Waterford. That’s why I was so disappointed and irate after exiting the Munster championship; they didn’t give a true reflection of themselves and their identity.

“For me, I was probably a bit naive and inexperienced to look for answers in the immediate aftermath of the match. I was able to tell the players that; I made that mistake and they showed me today that they’re behind me a hundred per cent.”

The only downer was a straight red card for Conor Gleeson. He was dismissed by referee Seán Stack before the sliotar was thrown in for the second half after an off the ball incident with Joe Canning before the interval.

“I didn’t see that; a big shock to the system for both management and players at the start of the second half. We discussed about being down to 14 men in our prep leading up to it. When you leave the field at the end of the first half with a full complement and you come out straight away, it takes a lot of readjusting. I thought we dealt with it well up to the first water break. Galway then got a foothold with their running and their overlaps and our tired legs kicked in.”

Three-time All Star Jamie Barron was back from injury and back to his best with four points from play.

“He came back from a fairly nasty injury. No real prep only his own personal training and his bit of ball work with us when he was fit enough to be able to partake in training. To come out into a cauldron like that and hit the ground running, it will just tell you that he is a serious warrior. Very fortunate to have him and pure thrilled that he came through it and hopefully he’ll be fit again for next weekend.”

Leading 1-18 to 0-9 at the half-time whistle, Waterford supporters got to their feet. They outscored Galway 1-9 to 0-2 in a stunning second quarter with the goal coming from Jack Fagan on 32 minutes. The Déise dominated the middle third with Barron and Peter Hogan bossing matters and all three half backs on the scoresheet (Calum Lyons, Shane Bennett and Kieran Bennett). The men in maroon couldn't live with their high-energy game.

Galway manager Shane O’Neill felt that the mountain was too big for his charges to climb. “We left ourselves with too much to do in the first half. Being so far behind, other teams would have thrown the towel in but the boys didn’t, they kept going, they kept battling until the end.

“It looked like we were going to snatch it at the end but it wasn’t meant to be. Waterford’s two or three points seemed to stem the tide just when it looked like we had all the momentum. Very disappointed not to win but very proud of the lads the way they just kept battling until the end. We just left ourselves with too much to do.”

WATERFORD: S O'Brien; C Gleeson, C Prunty, I Kenny; C Lyons (0-2) ,Shane Bennett (0-1), K Bennett (0-2); J Barron (0-4), P Hogan (0-1); P Curran (0-2), Stephen Bennett (0-10, eight frees), J Prendergast (0-2); D Hutchinson, A Gleeson (0-3, one sideline), J Fagan (1-2).

Subs: M Kiely (0-1) for Curran (58 mins), D Lyons for Hogan (60), B Power for Prendergast (64), C Dunford for Fagan (68), S McNulty for Hutchinson (73).

GALWAY: D Fahy; D Morrissey, G McInerney, S Cooney; P Mannion, D Burke, A Harte; S Loftus, C Mannion (1-0); J Cooney 0-1, C Whelan (0-3), C Cooney (0-1); S Linnane, J Canning (0-9, eight frees), B Concannon (0-1).

Subs: J Coen (0-1) for Loftus (26 mins), A Tuohey (0-1) for Linnane (29), E Niland (0-2) for C Cooney (46), J Fitzpatrick for Morrissey (51), J Flynn (2-1) for J Cooney (57).

Referee: S Stack (Dublin).