Waterford strike late to maintain 100 per cent record
Tipperary caught at the end for a second consecutive match after thrilling finish
Waterford’s Barry Coughlan in action against Dan McCormack and John McGrath of Tipperary during their Allianz League Division One A match. Photo: Ken Sutton/Inpho
For the second time in succession Tipperary found themselves on the receiving end of a late smash and grab, as Austin Gleeson drove over a 100-metre free with the last puck of the game to maintain Waterford’s faultless start to the season with 1-18 to 1-17 win in Semple Stadium, Thurles.
Waterford had doggedly pursued Tipp throughout and pulled back a four-point, half-time deficit to lead going into the last 10 minutes, courtesy of a goal by replacement Tom Devine. Full of running and as industrious as they had been at the start, the visitors looked set for victory.
Tipperary missed chances, including a great opportunity for replacement Niall O’Meara after a long-range free from goalkeeper Darren Gleeson had broken in the square, but with the game looking up in the 68th minute John McGrath stormed up onto a pass from Kieran Bergin and confidently finished to the net for a 1-17 to 1-16 lead. They should have sealed the matter with a 65 shortly afterwards but John O’Dwyer’s strike dropped short.
Patrick Curran - entrusted with frees in the absence of the suspended Maurice Shanahan equalised in injury-time and when a free out was awarded to Waterford in the last minute, Gleeson stood over it and delivered a 10th successive league win for the holders.
It was a riveting match despite unhelpful conditions, full of incident. The eagerly-awaited return of Séamus Callanan didn’t happen, as he was withdrawn because of a hamstring concern. O’Dywer scored 0-11, nine frees, but could have been sent off for a reckless pull that felled Jake Dillon in the 20th minute.
The match swung one way and then another with Tipp starting better but losing the initiative, as the first half passed and Waterford’s work rate and defensive solidity closed the space.
Quickly and almost imperceptibly Tipperary pulled away in the few minutes before the break, sticking on three points in as many minutes from O’Dwyer, twice, and Michael Breen to establish a four-point interval lead, 0-12 to 0-8, which in the conditions wasn’t bad.
The home side lost their way in the third quarter. O’Dwyer’s two points early on the re-start were Tipperary’s only points for nearly 20 minutes in which time Waterford had turned the match on his head.
The energy of Shane Bennett up front and Jake Dillon, tirelessly tracking back, together with Curran’s accuracy and the impact of Devine off the bench made Waterford look likely winners.
Waterford: S O’Keeffe; S Fives, B Coughlan, N Connors; P Mahony, D Fives, K Moran (0-2); J Barron (0-1), C Dunford; M Walsh, P Curran (0-9, seven frees), J Dillon; S Bennett (0-3), A Gleeson (0-2, one free), M Kearney (0-1). Subs: T Devine (1-0) for Kearney (47 mins), T Ryan for Walsh (54 mins), S O’Sullivan for Dunford (65 mins).
Tipperary: D Gleeson; C Barrett, T Hamill, M Cahill; B Heffernan, R Maher, Páraic Maher; B Maher (0-1), M Breen (0-2); N McGrath (0-1), D McCormack, Patrick Maher; J O’Dwyer (0-11, nine frees), L McGrath, J McGrath (1-2). Subs: N O’Meara for L McGrath (50 mins), K Bergin for McCormack (58 mins).
Referee: C Lyons (Cork).