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Monday, June 07, 2004
Waterford 4-10 Tipperary 3-12
By Jim O'Sullivan
THERE were many exceptional features of Waterford’s deserved victory in Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
The most outstanding feature was the character they displayed to keep applying themselves during a period when they seemed incapable of wiping out the slim advantage Tipp enjoyed after a 59th-minute Colin Morrissey goal.
But, in what was truly a marvellous Guinness Munster hurling contest adorned by Eoin Kelly's superb play for Tipperary in the first-half it was noteworthy that the losers, too, spurned chances. That was both before and after Justin McCarthy's team got the breakthrough goal from substitute Paul O'Brien just a minute-and-a-half from the end of normal time.
In a rip-roaring second-half, further highlighted by some acrobatic goalkeeping from Brendan Cummins and, from a Waterford perspective, a major contribution from Séamus Prendergast after switching to the left wing both sides lacked the firepower to take a grip at the crucial stage. And, not unexpectedly, Tipp were unhappy about what they claimed was an umpiring error which denied Kelly a point early in the second-half. Ultimately, however, it wasn't the reason why victory went to Waterford who, on the day were not to be denied a third consecutive appearance in the final for the first time since 1959.
With Tony Browne failing a fitness test on Saturday because of a hamstring problem and defender John Devane coming into the Tipp attack in place of Lar Corbett, the opening 20 minutes produced the most competitive phase of the game. Waterford enjoyed more possession in attack, but it yielded little against a defence in which Philip Maher was a colossus. Eoin Kelly attempted a goal from a 21-yard free for Tipp as early as the 6th minute but while it was cleared, the initiative remained with them.
It was significant that Waterford also made a very good start defensively, with both Eoin Murphy and James Murray prominent in the corners. But that situation changed dramatically after Eoin Kelly settled. Still, it was Waterford who gained a vital edge, with the first of two goals from Dan Shanahan in the 20th minute. By then they were fortunate to still have Eoin Kelly on the field after a wild pull on Paul Kelly, who had prevented him from making a clearance. It merited only a yellow card.
In another four minutes, Shanahan had the ball in the net to put them 2-3 to 0-2 in front, but the lead was short-lived. Within less than three minutes Eoin Kelly's virtuosity brought Tipperary level. First he goaled from a Benny Dunne opening, then pointed and again found the net with a shot which Stephen Brenner made a weak effort at stopping.
It marked a worrying time for both managers. Outside of Eoin Kelly's brilliance there was no real threat from the Tipp attack, while on the Waterford side, progress was minimal all round against a tight-marking defence, with Maher continuing to excel. Overall, neither side gained a great return from midfield. Dave Bennett, for instance, never reached the height of recent displays and Eoin Kelly drifted in and out of the game. The same applied to Eddie Enright. Additionally, while John Carroll was making no headway at centre-forward, Ken McGrath was seeing little enough of the ball. And, it was only in the second quarter that the Waterford captain got more involved. By this stage, Eamonn Corcoran had succeeded in almost eliminating the threat from Shanahan.
Half-time saw Waterford go in 3-5 to 2-5 in front, courtesy of a typically taken goal from John Mullane.
Eoin Kelly, who had got all but one point of the Tipp total in the first half, opened the second half with two pointed frees, (Morrissey getting one in between). And he hit what appeared to be another good score from play except it was waved wide before getting one from almost the same position.
Remarkably, after that score, he managed only one other (from a 55th minute free). To give James Murray credit, he stuck gamely with Kelly when it was obvious that the Mullinahone man had the beating of him and did curtail him. But a more important factor was that Kelly didn't receive as good a service.
That was due to the fact that Waterford exerted more pressure, resulting from the increased influence of McGrath (although substitute Conor Gleeson did make it harder for him). Brian Phelan, on his right, was also involved a lot, while Eoin Kelly hit a bit more ball around midfield. But, with Shanahan having faded, Flynn out of touch and Mullane unable to do anything after moving to full-forward, it was Séamus Prendergast who provided the attack with the type of thrust it lacked. He hit two valuable points and also made the opening for the goal near the end.
Cummins did well to stop a snap shot from Kelly before bringing off a spectacular double save from O'Brien and Flynn in quick succession. The second led to a 65, which Bennett efficiently put over to put Waterford two points clear. By now, both sides were starting to struggle to take scores. And as the wides started to mount on both sides, it looked as if the game would go Tipperary's way after Morrissey goaled smartly to give them a two-point advantage.
Waterford supporters agonised after Ken McGrath and Mullane (from a very poor attempt) each wasted chances and then, out of the blue, O'Brien had the ball in the net. The game continued on for the best part of five minutes and, notably, Tipp had three varying chances to draw level. But heroic Waterford defending frustrated them and ensured their win.
Diarmuid Kirwan, son of 1987 All-Ireland referee Gerry Kirwan from Offaly, made a splendid debut. He kept mistakes to a minimum and impressed with his application of the advantage rule.
Scorers: Waterford: D. Shanahan 2-0; J. Mullane and P. O'Brien 1-0 each; S. Prendergast, D. Bennett (0-1 seventy), P. Flynn (0-1 free) and E. Kelly (0-1 free), 0-2 each; M. Walsh and E. McGrath 0-1 each. Tipperary: E. Kelly 2-8 (0-4 frees); C. Morrissey 1-1; P. Kelly (seventy), T. Dunne and S. Butler 0-1 each.
WATERFORD: S. Brenner; E. Murphy, D. Prendergast, J. Murray; B. Phelan, K. McGrath (capt.), B. Wall; D. Bennett, E. Kelly; D. Shanahan, M. Walsh, P. Flynn; J. Mullane, S. Prendergast, E. McGrath.
Subs: P. O'Brien for E. McGrath (44th minute); S. O'Sullivan for Flynn (65th); T. Feeney for K. McGrath (injured, 68th).
TIPPERARY: B. Cummins; T. Costello, P. Maher, P. Curran; P. Kelly, D. Fitzgerald, E. Corcoran; E. Enright, C. Morrissey; T. Dunne (capt.), J. Carroll, B. Dunne; E. Kelly, J. Devane, P. O'Brien. Subs: M. Maher for Costello and S. Butler for O'Brien (second half); C. Gleeson for Carroll (46th); M. O'Leary for B. Dunne (67h).
* Attendance: 35,054.
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