Tipperary too strong for plucky Waterford

Tipperary 2-17 Waterford 0-16

Waterford ran out of steam in the second half as Tipperary retained their Munster SHC crown with a 2-17 to 0-16 success at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Declan Ryan’s men did not need the goal-scoring fireworks of last year’s provincial final as they methodically killed off the challengers point by point.

Waterford set a high intensity right from the off and recovered from leaking a John O’Brien goal to get back level - 0-11 to 1-08 - by half-time.

But some shrewd substitutions - Shane Bourke came on to score the second goal and Eoin Kelly was also influential - helped Tipp turn the screw.

The 26,438 spectators present were treated to a typically high octane start with the Déise obviously eager to banish memories of that 7-19 to 0-19 trouncing.

The Waterford half-back line, led heroically all afternoon by Kevin Moran, supplied an early flurry of possession and Shane Walsh rewarded them with a left-sided point.

The ever-ready John Mullane got out in front of his marker Michael Cahill to fire over Waterford’s second point and they were 0-03 to 0-00 to the good after the fit-again Pauric Mahony pointed.

Pressure from Moran and company forced Tipp into hurried shots and it took Brian O’Meara to open the defending champions’ account in the seventh minute, after three earlier wides.

Free-taker Maurice Shanahan replied but Ryan’s charges were level by the 11th minute, Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher breaking free from Tony Browne and finding John O’Brien whose shot from a tight angle flew past goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe.

It was a goal that could have unsettled Waterford, however points from the very effective Shane Walsh and Mullane, sandwiching an O’Brien effort, helped them retake the lead - 0-06 to 1-02.

Playing with an infectious passion and no little skill, the first quarter hour was an ideal statement of intent from Waterford - save for O’Brien’s well-finished goal.

But the Premier County slung over three points in quick succession to move ahead by the midpoint of the half. Thomas Stapleton and Padraic Maher were winning more ball and pressing forward in a role reversal from the opening minutes.

Maher, Noel McGrath and O’Brien all pointed during that purple patch for Tipp and the latter was also denied a second goal.

Tipperary’s own reliable custodian, Brendan Cummins, was aiming for his fifth clean sheet in a Munster hurling decider and he was called upon to foil Shanahan after a charging run from the forward in the 25th minute.

Walsh and Mullane were in clinical form despite a limited supply of ball and while Shane McGrath and Bourke were able to maintain Tipp’s three-point advantage, Waterford made good headway before the break.

Shanahan converted the ‘65’ after Cummins saved his goal-bound shot and added three more points in the closing minutes of a half that bristled with aggression - referee Cathal McAllister had to calm matters after a spate of meaty shouldering and head-to-head confrontations.

Shanahan’s sharpshooting - he took his tally to 0-05 - erased Tipp’s lead and gave his side a massive boost.

They got another jolt when Stephen Molumphy, a key contributor in centre-field, pointed them ahead (0-12 to 1-08) following a terrific Mullane assist, two minutes into the second period.

However, it was the signal for Tipp to lift their game and over the ensuing minutes they rattled off a series of points from O’Meara, Noel McGrath, O’Brien and defender Cahill.

Waterford dug deep to keep in contention, Shanahan lobbing over a free after Mullane was fouled, and both O’Keeffe and Cummins had to be on their toes to keep out goals.

Tipp substitute Eoin Kelly forced a good save from O’Keeffe while Cummins dealt well with a ground shot from Paul O’Brien, who was brought on by manager Michael Ryan.

Having landed a free, Kelly stood over another one in the 55th minute. He dropped it short but the Waterford defence, including O’Keeffe, were unable to clear the danger and Shane Bourke reacted smartly to strike the loose ball to the net.

Waterford were now 2-13 to 0-14 adrift and although their work-rate could not be questioned, they evidently lacked the composure to test Tipp over the remainder.

Bad wides followed from Shanahan, Browne and Moran and Cummins was also frustrating them at close quarters, getting down well to stop a stinging shot from Waterford’s Eoin Kelly.

The margin was widened to six points by Noel McGrath before Kelly, taking over the free-taking duties from Shanahan, lifted his side with an accurate free.

The Tipp rearguard were solid as the hour mark came and went, Cummins and company standing firm as Kelly drove a 20-metre free towards them.

The victors might have had a third goal by that stage, ‘Bonner’ Maher was brought down by Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh as he cut through on the end of a breaking ball.

Kelly opted to take his point from the resulting free, while Lar Corbett, who was so devastating when the counties here met twelve months ago, blew a couple of goal-scoring chances when deciding to pass rather than backing himself for the shot.

Nevertheless, there were no late heroics from Déise as Kelly and goal scorer Bourke swept over the final scores of the day.

Scorers: Tipperary: J O’Brien 1-03, S Bourke 1-01, N McGrath, E Kelly (0-02f) 0-03 each, B O’Meara, P Bourke (0-02f) 0-02 each, Padraic Maher, S McGrath, M Cahill 0-01 each.

Waterford: M Shanahan 0-08 (0-05f, 0-01 ‘65’), J Mullane 0-03, S Walsh 0-02, P Mahony, S Molumphy, E Kelly (0-01f) 0-01 each.

TIPPERARY: Brendan Cummins; Conor O’Brien, Paul Curran (capt), Michael Cahill; Thomas Stapleton, Conor O’Mahony, Padraic Maher; Brendan Maher, Shane McGrath; Pa Bourke, Patrick Maher, Lar Corbett; Brian O’Meara, John O’Brien, Noel McGrath.

Subs used: Eoin Kelly, Shane Bourke, Donagh Maher, Seamus Callanan.

WATERFORD: Stephen O'Keeffe; Noel Connors, Liam Lawlor, Stephen Daniels; Tony Browne, Michael Walsh (capt), Kevin Moran; Stephen Molumphy, Philip Mahony; Pauric Mahony, Seamus Prendergast, Maurice Shanahan; John Mullane, Shane Walsh, Gavin O’Brien.

Subs used: Eoin Kelly, Paul O’Brien, Martin O’Neill, Jamie Nagle.

Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork).

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