He may have a big All-Ireland club date with Portumna next Sunday but Joe Canning’s focus was unwavering here as he chalked up a handsome tally of 0-11. Nine of those scores arrived from open play and he gave a graphic illustration of his proficiency in striking off both sides with five points from his right and four off his left.
In defence of the Waterford side their full-back Shane Fives was troubled by a leg injury that ultimately necessitated his withdrawal in the 45th minute and their rearguard was far more resilient in the second-half.
The damage was largely done here by LIT in the first-half. Apart from an initially bright opening by WIT, for whom Mark Molloy and Timmy Hammersley sparkled, the opening period was largely the control of LIT. While Canning was in prolific form in front of goal, the contributions from other sectors of the pitch were equally as vital. Full-back Conor Cooney, in opposition against his former Fitzgibbon Cup teammates, commanded his berth, while outside him James McInerney impressed with his positioning and clearing abilities. Nicky O’Connell was hugely consistent on the right flank while Sean Collins bustling energy helped LIT win the midfield area.
WIT’s early 0-2 to 0-0 lead had evaporated by the 12th minute as LIT drew level at 0-3 apiece. LIT’s shooting was faultless and accurate, while WIT rushed their point attempts to strike seven wides in the first-half. That trend explained the narrative of the match between the 17th and 26th minutes, when LIT fired seven points on the trot. Half-forwards Seamus Callanan and Niall Quinn made great progress while O’Connell launched over a fantastic point from deep in the 23rd minute.
WIT mounted a brief rally before the break but Canning’s prowess ensured he concluded the half with eight points to his name and LIT were the proprietors of a 0-13 to 0-5 advantage.
WIT plotted to engineer a recovery at the break and judging by their post-interval display, a central plank of that plan was to tighten up matters in defence. Brendan Kenny, Noel Connors and PJ Rowe all began to play with greater authority which helped stem the amount of balls dropping over Adrian Power’s crossbar. Mark Molloy’s diligence in midfield duties also helped but the real boost to their challenge came in the 41st minute.
A long-distance free by Power spilt kindly for Ray McLoughney near goal and he finished decisively to the net. WIT maintained their momentum to land the next two points of the game through Hammersley and Kieran Reade, to leave them 0-15 to 1-8 adrift by the 45th minute.
LIT kept their heads and with two points from Canning they looked commanding with a 0-17 to 1-8 lead after 50 minutes.
WIT kept on pressurising the LIT defence and Hammersley landed a brace of points before Power sprinted upfield to blast a close-range free over the bar. Entering injury-time they were only three adrift but fittingly Canning capped off a fine afternoon’s work for himself and his team with the clinching point.
Scorers for LIT: J Canning 0-11 (0-2f), N Quinn, S Callanan 0-2 each, N O’Connell, S Collins, S Tobin 0-1 each.
Scorers for WIT: T Hammersley 0-6 (0-4f), R McLougheney 1-1, K Reade 0-2, F O’Leary, A Power (0-1f) 0-1 each.
LIT: M Ryan (Tipperary); J Gunning (Clare), C Cooney (Clare), C Chaplin (Clare); N O’Connell (Clare), J McInerney (Clare), R Sherlock (Tipperary); P O’Brien (Limerick), S Collins (Clare); N Quinn (Galway), S Callinan (Tipperary), W Hyland (Laois); B Gaffney (Clare), J Canning (Galway), S Tobin (Limerick). Subs: A Ryan (Tipperary) for Hyland (half-time), P Browne (Limerick) for Quinn (56).
WIT: A Power (Waterford); B Kenny (Galway), S Fives (Waterford), N Connors (Waterford); W Hutchinson (Waterford), E Barrett (Clare), PJ Rowe (Kilkenny); M Molloy (Wexford), W O’Dwyer (Tipperary); F O’Leary (Cork), K Reade (Tipperary), R Good (Cork); T Hammersley (Tipperary), K Grehan (Kilkenny), R McLoughney (Tipperary). Subs: J Gahan (Wexford) for Good (39), C Lacey (Wexford) for Fives (inj) (45).
Referee: Jason O’Mahony (Limerick).