There have been a scattering of results already this summer to suggest a two-tier football structure is required sooner rather than later and if Croke Park hierarchy remain unconvinced, yesterday’s non-contest is further evidence of its merit.
A Division 3 outfit inflicting a 22-point hammering on a team operating one tier below them. Enough said.
Waterford manager Tom McGlinchey had no difficulty agreeing afterwards that this 25-scores to five mauling was cause for concern. His team’s regression, he simply had no answer to.
“Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Now it wasn’t from the want of trying, but everything we touched turned to dust. It was just one of those days where everything went wrong,” he said. “I just can’t put my finger on it because training had gone well the last two weeks, they had performed well in two challenge games. From the minute the ball was thrown in, however, it was like a different game. It was like different players went out onto the field. For Tipperary, they are playing Kerry next and they did not get tested here.”
Whatever about the basic handling and kicking errors chalked up by the visitors, the lack of real fight carried to the home outfit and general acceptance of their fate as early as the first quarter, it should not dim the spotlight on the manner in which Tipperary went about their business. Ten scorers, 1-21 from open play and just three scores from play conceded; this was polished football from Tipperary, as polished as has been witnessed at senior level under Creedon.
The exploits of the county’s U21 side were among the football stories of the spring, yet only three featured at Semple Stadium — Steven O’Brien, Colin O’Riordan and goalkeeper Evan Comerford. This victory was mapped out by senior figures such as Philip Austin, Robbie Kiely and Peter Acheson. It isn’t just their production line that gives hope of an extended summer.
Though playing into a strong breeze, the Premier men signalled their intent inside the opening 51 seconds — Conor Sweeney’s free the first of six unanswered points registered by the 12th minute.
Philip Austin, Ger Mulhaire and three from the right boot of impressive midfielder Steven O’Brien sent Tipperary on their way. Their direct running, the storming forays into attack of corner-back Robbie Kiely and intelligent use of possession saw Waterford struggle to get even a glove to their opponents, never mind a tackle.
Michael O’Halloran, a fine effort with the outside of the right boot, put the visitors on the board after 13 minutes and while again on target before the close of the first quarter, Waterford trailed by 12-points when next they added to their tally on 34 minutes.
Michael Quinlivan flashed over three minors in quick succession and it was the full-forward who reacted quickest in punching to the net when Sweeney’s free came down off the post on 24 minutes. Two Sweeney white flags followed and the crowd of 1,641 began to debate how much of the second half they’d wait to see.
Philip Austin supplied Tipperary’s 13th point in first-half stoppages, yet another goal opportunity not capitalised upon by Creedon’s charges. Five, in total, they engineered in the opening half — Waterford goalkeeper Sean Barron and corner-back Thomas O’Gorman denying Kiely and Brian Fox respectively.
Matters improved little for the Déise at the change of ends — Peter Acheson, O’Brien, Austin, Seamus Kennedy and George Hannigan stringing five points on the bounce to push their lead out to 18-points. Centre-back Shane Briggs ended an 18-minute barren spell when slotting over Waterford’s first score of the second half.
A second free from JJ Hutchinson brought their tally to 0-5. Alas, the one-way traffic continued right to the final whistle — Hannigan, sub Jason Lonergan and O’Brien’s sixth completing the 22-point rout.
Such was Waterford’s lack of verve. Such, essentially, was Tipperary’s superiority. It won’t last of course — Kerry arrive into Liberty Square on June 14.
S O’Brien (0-6); M Quinlivan (1-3, 0-1 free); C Sweeney (0-2 frees), P Austin, B Fox (0-3 each); G Hannigan (0-2); S Kennedy, P Acheson, J Lonergan, G Mulhaire (0-1 each).
JJ Hutchinson (2 frees), M O’Halloran (0-2 each); S Briggs (0-1).
E Comerford; P Codd, C McDonald, R Kiely; A Campbell, P Acheson, S Kennedy; S O’Brien, G Hannigan; G Mulhaire, P Austin, C O’Riordan; C Sweeney, M Quinlivan, B Fox.
J Lonergan for O’Riordan (42 mins, inj), B Grogan for Quinlivan (43), L Casey for Sweeney (58), B Mulvihill for Fox (58), A Morrissey for Acheson (64), S Flynn for Mulhaire (66).
S Barron; T Ó hUallacháin, M O’Gorman, T O’Gorman; D Crowley, S Briggs, L Lawlor; T Prendergast, P Hurney; M Ferncombe, M O’Halloran, JJ Hutchinson; M Curry, P Whyte, J Veale.
L Ó Lonáin for Curry (HT), C O’Keeffe for Hurney (49 mins), S Prendergast for Ferncombe (51), R O’Ceallaigh for Whyte (59).
R Hickey (Clare).