Waterford refuse to be drawn on goal that wasn’t a goal

Derek McGrath was keen to move on from the controversy of Jason Forde’s score

Waterford’s manager Derek McGrath and Tipperary’s manager Michael Ryan at the final whistle of their Munster SHC clash. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Waterford’s manager Derek McGrath and Tipperary’s manager Michael Ryan at the final whistle of their Munster SHC clash. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

 

The goal that shouldn’t have been, the point that was but maybe wasn’t, and after another exhausting afternoon in the press box still nothing is decided. Will the Munster hurling championship please start making sense again?

For now the madness of the round-robin format refuses to cease – Waterford and Tipperary both just about keeping their season alive, and it’s still only the June Bank Holiday.

For a game that wasn’t won or lost it won’t be easily forgotten – especially the 62nd minute goal for Tipperary, a Jason Forde pot shot, caught cleanly just before the Waterford goal line by Austin Gleeson, rather than over it. Only the one person who did believe it counted was the match umpire, who raised the green flag without consulting with his colleague.

Later in injury time Ronan Maher hit another crucial point for Tipp which was initially signalled wide by the same umpire, only for match referee Alan Kelly to overrule and award it. Waterford manager Derek McGrath could have cried on the sideline when Forde hit the equaliser in the last minute of injury time, only some remained the model of tranquillity.

“You never feel safe with Tipp because of the potency of their attack and the quality of their subs,” said McGrath. “We just felt we’d see it out. We were hit with a kind of a storm, a force from Tipperary that we weren’t able to weather it.

“We got a point or two ahead again near the end; Tipp came again. But we’re on the board. We’re going to try and take the positives out of it, albeit a little bit dejected given we were so far ahead. A lot of different emotions based on where we were last week. I mean our epitaph was probably written during the week based on the injury situation.

“And we don’t want any discussion about referee’s decisions, like not if you like, if that’s coming down the line. The decision or otherwise in terms of the goal may only tally if you don’t qualify from the group – it may become a point of conjecture as the summer goes on. You might feel a little bit more aggrieved about it. Albeit, if it’s not the correct decision what can you do only move on, you know.”

In truth Tipperary manager Michael Ryan could hardly believe his luck either - and that was his choice of word. “Look, we ride our luck, there’s no doubt at all,” said Ryan. “When you come out of a game like that and you get a draw, you’ve rode your luck, 100 per cent.

“But it was fold the tents and get nothing out of this game or fight it out. That’s not in their DNA. We don’t give in, we won’t give in. Look if that’s just thickness fair enough, we’re just thick. But that’s what we are. We’re here to play and we don’t give in. Matches, time and time again, super matches have been won in the last two minutes of the game or the last 30 seconds.

“Look it, we salvaged a draw again, I’d say in the last 20 seconds of the game, and just great credit goes to a group that will keep trying. They are so honest but you know we really do need to start playing better than we did. And no we don’t give in, we won’t give in. Look if that’s just thickness fair enough, we’re just thick. But that’s what we are.”

McGrath wasn’t been drawn on either the contentious goal or point: “We just imparted a message straight away to move on and I think that’s what we’ll do. I think we did it well after the league final replay a couple of years ago when there were probably mistakes made and we’ll do the same again. That’s the nature of what we are trying to do, behave ourselves correctly on and off the field and move on to the next challenge. If we get too technical there’d be no emotive reaction to anything. We’ll take it on the chin the way we’ve taken other decisions.”

Waterford selector Dan Shanahan wasn’t so sure: did he feel like his team were robbed? “Well you be the judge of that. At the end of it, we’re a little disappointed, because no way was it inside the post. But look, credit to Tipperary too, they came back from 11 points down, to draw the game. But it was a controversial decision that cost us. But look, who wants to be a referee. It’s a hard job to do. Believe me. But be consistent. It was no goal, and it’s after costing us a point. But it’s dog eat dog in Munster.

“But we’re still in this Munster championship. Not many people outside our own circle believed that we’d be still here this evening, talking like that. Tipp were on a hiding coming down here, and we’re proud to have got a point out of it, and we’ll park it now.

Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe said likewise: “It’s a little raw, straight after the final whistle, but a draw against a very good Tipperary team, isn’t a bad result either. It does put us on the board, and still gives us a chance to make the Munster final.”

Not to be undone, Limerick also snatched a late draw against Cork on Saturday night, also playing the second half with 14 men. At least things were a little more straightforward elsewhere – All-Ireland champions Galway cruising past Wexford to seal their place in the Leinster final.

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