Tipperary have agreed to a request from Kerry to switch the game as Kingdom boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice is due to play for Finuge against Monasterevin in next Sunday’s All-Ireland Club IFC semi-final.
Tipp are happy to accommodate them as it gives their players an extra day to prepare for the Allianz Football League opener against Carlow on Sunday week, February 3.
Tipp, fresh from their shock victory over Cork a week before, booked their place in a second successive final with a hard-fought victory over Waterford at a bitterly cold Sean Treacy Park yesterday.
In a dour struggle, the hosts needed extra-time to see off a Waterford side rocked by the early losses of centre back Shane Briggs and midfielder Tommy Prendergast, both through injury.
Briggs limped off with a knee problem in the 23rd minute and Prendergast was gone two minutes later, suffering with a groin complaint.
At half-time, Tipp led 0-4 to 0-3 as Barry Grogan, scorer of 1-6, contributed all of the home side’s scores.
Eight minutes from time, wind-assisted Waterford poached the game’s opening goal from Paul Whyte but Tipp rallied to force extra-time as Brian Fox fisted over the equaliser.
The sides were deadlocked at the end of 70 minutes, 0-10 to 1-7, but it seemed Waterford would snatch victory when sub Liam Ó Lionain scrambled home a goal on the stroke of half-time in extra-time.
But Tipp rallied again and after Darren Lowry rattled the crossbar with a fisted effort, Grogan palmed Hugh Coghlan’s centre from the right touchline to the net in the 83rd minute.
There were no further scores in the remaining seven minutes and Tipp held on to set up a dress rehearsal for next May’s Munster SFC clash against Kerry.
Fitzmaurice’s outfit will start as favourites to claim a third McGrath Cup title in four seasons but Tipp boss Peter Creedon is relishing the challenge.
The Cork native said: “We’ll approach it the same way – trying to get the most out of the players we have. We may not train as hard this week as we have for the previous couple of weeks.”
Creedon admitted that yesterday’s game was a dour affair but a heavy recent training schedule may have contributed to that.
Creedon revealed: “We trained very hard this week and played DIT on Friday night. I think some of the lads’ legs were heavy but we showed a great bit of spirit to win it.”
Waterford boss Niall Carew reflected: “I was pleased enough but when you lose your centre back and midfielder, you’re always going to be playing catch-up. But in fairness to the boys, they responded well and we were always going to hit a flat spot for 10 or 15 minutes until we regrouped because they’re pivotal in our system. Our boys kept going and you always have a threat with the Hurneys. Shane Ahearne came into it as well. I was pleased with the performance.”
Scorers for Tipperary: B Grogan 1-6 (0-3f), B Fox 0-3, L McGrath, H Coghlan & C McDonald 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford: L Ó Lionain & P Whyte (0-1f), 1-1 each, G Hurney 0-4f, S Ahearne (f) & T Grey 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY: P Fitzgerald; A Morrissey, P Codd, J Coughlan; C McDonald, S Kennedy, J O’Callaghan; G Hannigan, L Egan; C Sweeney, A Matassa, B Maher; L McGrath, P Quirke, B Grogan.
Subs: H Coghlan for Matassa (ht), B Fox for O’Callaghan (ht), B Jones for Sweeney (53), S O’Brien for Quirke (58), A Campbell for Kennedy (70+2), D Lowry for Maher (78).
WATERFORD: S Enright; J McGrath, S Prendergast, C Phelan; T Grey, S Briggs, J Hurney; T Prendergast, S Ahearne; P Whyte, P Hurney, M O’Gorman; D Guiry, G Hurney, G Nugent.
Subs: S O’Hare for Briggs (inj, 23), R Cahill for T Prendergast (inj, 25), L Ó Lionáin for Cahill (56), A Brophy for J Hurney (68), S Dempsey for O’Hare (77), D Grey for O’Gorman (87).
Referee: E Walsh (Kerry).