HL1A: Tipp toppers down Na Deise

19 February 2017

Waterford's Noel Connors with Steven O'Brien of Tipperary.
©INPHO/Tommy Dickson.

Table toppers Tipperary made it two wins from two with a spirited 1-18 to 0-15 defeat of Munster rivals Waterford at Walsh Park.

Full forward John McGrath bagged the only goal of the game twelve minutes from the end and also contributed six points, while wing back Seamus Kennedy was also influential and substitute John O’Dwyer scored five times for the winners.

The result means that after two rounds of games Tipp are the only team in the top flight with a 100% record, having also beaten Dublin last weekend. With the wind at their backs, the Liam MacCarthy holders outscored their opponents by 1-7 to 0-5 in the second half as Waterford - shorn of Michael Walsh and Jamie Barron prior to throw-in - wilted.

At the end of an evenly-contested opening period in which the teams were level on no fewer than ten occasions, Jason Forde’s injury-time point gave the visitors a slender 0-11 to 0-10 interval advantage. Pauric Mahony supplied seven points for the hosts in the first half while McGrath was on target five times for Michael Ryan’s men.

With 7,344 looking on, the Waterford players gave the reigning All-Ireland champions a guard of honour as they came onto the field of play but the camaraderie started and ended there - prior to throw-in.

McGrath had the Premier ahead from a first-minute free and added another in the fifth minute after Tom Devine had brought the sides level with a lovely strike on the run. But a brace of Mahony frees had Na Deise ahead by the odd point from five with eight minutes played.

Mahony’s third converted free cancelled out a McGrath point from play and midfielder Brendan Maher nonchalantly made it five apiece following a lively exchange between Niall O’Meara and Mikey Kearney. Shane Bennett drilled a Waterford goal effort inches wide but Gavin O’Brien was on hand to give the hosts the lead again on 19 minutes.

It was nip and tuck in this big clash of the league and All-Ireland holders as McGrath lofted over a free and Mahony did likewise: 0-7 to 0-6 with 14 minutes left before the break. Derek McGrath’s men spurned a couple of good scoring opportunities and they were made to pay when Forde notched a lovely score to tie the teams up once more.

Mahony speared over a free from inside his own half and added his next one from play after Steven O’Brien stepped inside to equalise – 0-9 to 0-8 after half an hour. McGrath led the Waterford defence a merry dance and drew the sides level for the ninth time. Substitute O’Dwyer and Mahony’s seventh score (free) made it all-square again in first-half injury time. But O’Meara set up Forde for an excellent Tipp lead point on the stroke of the short whistle.

When the action resumed O’Brien left two between the sides for the first time but Hurler of the Year Austin Gleeson hit back with a sublime finish only for Kieran Bergin and O’Dwyer (free) to leave three points between the teams with 42 minutes gone. O’Dwyer.s beauty from play made it 0-15 to 0-11 as daylight started to appear between the teams for the first time.

Mahony (free) kept Na Deise ticking over and goalkeeper Ian O’Regan got down brilliantly to save a 52nd-minute O’Dwyer penalty (awarded after O’Brien was bundled over by Tadhg de Burca), which was destined to nestle in the bottom left corner. O’Dwyer didn’t let his head drop, however, and he clipped over a free to make it 0-16 to 0-12 with less than 15 minutes left.

The contest was settled in the 58th minute when Regan produced another magnificent diving save to thwart substitute Noel McGrath but this time younger brother John was on hand to bat the loose sliothar to an empty net – 1-16 to 0-13.

Darragh Mooney made a super stop to deny Shane Bennett the goal that would have thrown the hosts a lifeline. Late points were traded by substitute Brian O’Halloran and All Star McGrath as Tipp moved clear at the top of the table with two wins from two.

Tipperary - D Mooney; D Maher, J Barry, J O’Dwyer; S Kennedy, T Hamill, Padraic Maher; B Maher (0-1), K Bergin (0-1); D McCormack, J Forde (0-2), S O’Brien (0-2); A McCormack, J McGrath (1-6, 0-3f), N O’Meara (0-1). Subs: J O’Dwyer (0-5, 4f) for A McCormack, N McGrath for J Forde, M Breen for K Bergin, S Callanan for S O’Brien, M Cahill for J O’Dwyer.

Waterford - I O’Regan; S Fives, B Coughlan, N Connors; C Gleeson, T De Burca, S McNulty; K Moran, G O’Brien (0-1); T Devine (0-1), M Kearney (0-1), Pauric Mahony (0-9, 8f); Shane Bennett, J Dillon, A Gleeson (0-1). Subs: D Lyons for S McNulty, Stephen Bennett for J Dillon, C Dunford for G O’Brien, M Shanahan for M Kearney, B O’Halloran (0-2) for C Dunford.

Referee - D Kirwan.

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