Premier do the needful, but no more
By Tony Considine
A big thank-you again to Mark Fletcher, Ger, Francie and the Roscrea mafia who kept our appointment in Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
First they fed me, then they insulted me and told me they had a team of supermen who were going to blast Clare off the field in the minor final.
They didn’t of course and were made to work all the way by a very determined Banner bunch. They were also made to work in the senior final but we’ll get to that. First I have to say that those kind of guys are what make the Munster championship what it is.
Waterford had a major psychological barrier to overcome coming into this game. Namely, the seven-goal defeat they suffered in the final last year. They tackled it simply by going back to what they do best — playing their own brand of direct free-style hurling, every player allowed to fully express himself. There was nothing robotic about their style, they played with freedom.
Starting with the defence, Brick Walsh was back in his best position, centre-back. Noel Connors was back from injury at corner back and played superbly. Liam Lawlor did well at full-back, young Stephen Daniels, even though caught for a few scores, also impressed.
I’m saving the best two till last, Tony Browne and Kevin Moran. Tony defied the years, played really well until he was called ashore late in the second half and fully justified his selection.
But what about Kevin Moran. This guy to me typifies what Waterford are about. What a sportsman, what a player, what an attitude.
In midfield I thought both Stephen Molumphy and young Phillip Mahony both hurled very well. Up front Maurice Shanahan shone bright, as did John Mullane, but the man who really did a job for Waterford was Seamus Prendergast who nullified one of Tipperary’s great players in Conor O’Mahony. ! If only Seamus could shoot, what a player he’d be.
And that was what cost Waterford dearly yesterday — missed chances. I know Tipperary missed their share too but they could afford to. Waterford couldn’t, especially in the second-half where they had seven wides to Tipperary’s two. When you consider that Tipperary got 10 scores to Waterford’s five in that half, you can see just how costly those misses were. Brendan Cummins must be commended too for making three good saves.
A lot of positives for Waterford then but a negative was that Eoin Kelly misfired again yesterday. His workrate isn’t good enough and his shooting was off.
Then you add in the fact that his man got a point from play to outscore him. If Eoin is to contribute then his attitude must improve.
Going to Tipperary, and one of the main reasons they won this game so comfortably was the introduction of sub Shane Bourke, who got 1-1. Another sub, Eoin Kelly, also contributed well. Brendan Cummins was absolutely outstanding, as was Michael Cahill outside him, and Thomas Stapleton.
Padraic Maher was good but has developed a bad habit of charging too far up field before losing possession, putting his own team under pressure as a result. He’s a fine player, just let the ball off earlier, and if he is going forward, take a shot earlier.
What this game showed Tipperary, surely, is that they are vulnerable down the middle of the defence. Seamus Prendergast was obviously too strong for Conor and I was surprised they didn’t shift Padraic Maher in there.
I must mention Bonner Maher and the great battle he had with Brick Walsh. As you’d expect from Bonner he never gave up, did some great things, including robbing Brick to set up Tipp’s first goal.
I feel there’s more in Noel McGrath, even if he did manage three points. He’s getting close to where he was two years ago but like Brendan Maher in midfield, has yet to fully find his best form on a consistent basis. Maybe in a year or two he could find himself giving way to younger brother John, who starred in the minor game!
A bit of advice to end with for Lar Corbett. Stop trying to manufacture goals from every possession!
Overall it was a good Munster final to cap off a very good Munster championship and we have worthy champions, but Tipperary will know they still have a lot of work to do to win the title they’re really after.
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