Tipperary 1-12 Waterford 1-13
Maria Delahunty’s sensational free, with the last kick of the game, sealed Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 3 glory for Waterford at Semple Stadium today, writes Jackie Cahill.
Delahunty held her nerve to convert a stunning effort from 30 metres out on the New Stand side of Semple Stadium to secure promotion to Division 2 for the Déise.
This one looked like it was heading for extra-time, like its predecessor in Clane last weekend, but Delahunty had the final say for last year’s All-Ireland intermediate champions.
But on the form they showed over the course of two games, Tipp will challenge hard for intermediate glory this summer, as Waterford warmed up for next Sunday’s Munster senior opener against Cork.
It was cruel luck on Tipperary, who had 1-4 from outstanding centre forward Mairead Morrissey, but Waterford showed true grit to dig out the result.
Delahunty is one of the finest exponents of long-range dead balls in the ladies game and she delivered when the pressure was at its most intense to make it third time lucky for Waterford in Division 3 deciders, following defeats in 2014 and 2015.
In many ways, it was a fitting end to another enthralling shoot-out between these two Munster rivals.
A special score would be needed to separate them and Delahunty provided it to condemn Tipp to Division 3 fare again next year.
After goal chances came and went at both ends, Morrissey crashed home a fine effort at the Town End to tie the scores at 1-0 to 0-3.
The sides were level twice more approaching half-time before Katie Murray netted for Waterford with the final score of the first half, handing the winners a 1-7 to 1-5 interval lead.
Tipp’s Gillian O’Brien had another goal chance well saved early in the second half by Katie Hannon but in an open encounter, Waterford’s Aileen Wall was denied by Patricia Hickey in the 39th minute.
Waterford continued to hold the upper hand but Tipp refused to yield and while they were three points behind in the second half, 1-7 to 1-10, the Premier County continued to press.
They were rewarded late on when Morrissey bagged a brace of points to level matters at 1-12 apiece.
But there was one, final twist left in the tale and Delahunty provided it to seal victory for Waterford.
Scorers for Tipperary: M Morrissey 1-4, A Moloney 0-3 (1f), G O’Brien 0-2, L O’Shea, E Hanley & E Carroll 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford: K Murray 1-2, M Delahunty 0-4 (3f), S Ryan 0-3 (2f), A Wall 0-2, L Wall & M Ryan 0-1 each.
"The conditions were perfect," said modest Maria.
"It was unreal (to play in Semple Stadium) and so nice to get the recognition of playing here before the hurlers."
TIPPERARY: P Hickey; B Condon, S Lambert, S Delahunty; A O’Dwyer, J Grant, C Mullins; L O’Shea, S Carew; C Walsh, M Morrissey, E Myles; A Moloney, G O’Brien, E Hanley.
Subs: E Carroll for Walsh (25), A McCarthy for Hanley (50), C O’Dwyer for Mullins (55), A O’Shea for Carroll (58).
WATERFORD: K Hannon; M Wall, M McGrath, L Wall; E Murray, M Dunford, A Mullaney; L Ryan, K Murray; M Delahunty, R Tobin, C McGrath; A Wall, G Kenneally, S Ryan.
Subs: L Devine for McGrath (23), M Ryan for Tobin (39), C Hurley for Devine (44), N Fennell for L Ryan (46), L McGregor for Mullaney (53).
Referee: J Murphy (Carlow).