Their opponents in Mallow yesterday, Ballybacon-Grange, were second best for much of the game and only those two first-half red cards stopped this from being a facile win for Ardmore, who were slicker and sharper from the start.
After only five minutes, former Waterford star Seamus Prendergast found the net for Ardmore, following up a loose ball in the square. When he pointed a free a minute later, it was 1-3 to 0-1.
Former Tipp keeper Brendan Cummins trotted outfield to respond with a free, but Ardmore were dominant in most areas.
Driven forward by an imposing half-back line of Gavin Williams, Seamus Keating and Richie Hennessy, the Waterford men’s approach was simple: Hit Pendergast up front and feed off him, and it worked well.
By the 15th minute, it was 1-5 to 0-2, while Ardmore had also hit five wides, to underline Ardmore’s general superiority. Ballybacon-Grange had two pointed frees from Aaron Lonergan to cut the deficit and then, on 23 minutes, the game took its first turn, when Wayne Hennessy got a straight red card for Ardmore, following a reckless challenge on the sideline.
Another Lonergan free and it was 1-5 to 0-6, but Ardmore hit back with Prendergast and Kennedy points.
Ballybacon-Grange struck for goal in first-half injury time, with Declan Walsh finishing from close range after a Cummins free landed in the goalmouth. Ardmore were unhappy with the lack of action from referee Nathan Wall when one of their players appeared to be struck before the free was taken, and they were unhappier when goalkeeper Jack Walsh was sent off for getting entangled with goalscorer Walsh, all of which meant it was 1-7 to 1-6 at the end of the half, with Ardmore down to 13 men.
The Waterford men were sharp on the resumption, with the Tipp men looking unsure as to how they should deploy their extra men. A Cummins 65 levelled matters on 35 minutes, but the evergreen Pendergast struck for a classic goal a minute later, and David Gartland hit an even better solo goal a minute after that.
When Pendergast and Flavin added points, the score was 3-9 to 1-7 on 42 minutes and, despite being two men down, Ardmore looked in control, Ballybacon-Grange struggling to make inroads against the Waterford side’s defence.
There was still time for a second yellow for Seamus Prendergast with four minutes to go, but it made no difference to the result, particularly as the Tipp side had Eoin Walsh sent off with 60 minutes on the clock.
Brendan Cummins found the net from a free deep in injury-time as a consolation score for the Tipperary men, but Ardmore were full value for their win.
S. Prendergast (2-5, 0-2 frees); D. Gartland (1-1); J. Kennedy, J. Flavin (0-2 each); E. O’Shea (0-1).
B. Cummins (1-2, 1-1 frees, 0-1 65); D. Walsh (1-0), A. Lonergan (0-3, frees); D. O’Regan (0-2); A. Savage (0-1).
J. Walsh, N. Hennessy, D. Prendergast, D. Power, G. Williams, S. Keating, R. Hennessy, K. Murphy, W. Hennessy, J. Flavin, D. Gartland, J. Gartland, J. Kennedy, S. Prendergast, K. Conway.
E. O’Shea for Kennedy, J.O’Donnell for K. Conway (both HT); E. Conway for J. Gartland (60).
B. Cummins, P. Walsh, B. Walsh, C. Carrigan (c), M. Barlow, C. O’Gorman, S. Nagle, M. O’Sullivan, B. Dillon, D. O’Regan, B. Hewitt, G. Cronin, A. Savage, D. Walsh, A. Lonergan.
S. Lambert for P. Walsh (15); C. O’Shaughnessy for Dillon (blood 19-22); G. Whelan for J. Cronin (HT); J. English for Savage (49); C. O’Shaughessy for Carrigan (56); J. O’Mahoney for M. O’Sullivan (59).
N. Wall (Cork).