Waterford had just scored the game’s first goal in this NHL Division 1A clash, a fine strike from a narrow angle by Mark O’Brien, to level matters at 1-10 to 0-13. From the puck-out Austin Gleeson surged upfield for Waterford and was challenged on the wing near the whitewash: Tipperary sideline cut.
From Ronan Maher’s sideline, the ball eventually got to Michael Breen, who was grounded for a penalty. Jason Forde converted expertly, and Tipp’s restored three-point advantage helped them kick on to record what was, eventually, a facile win.
“It was a real manly piece of play,” Waterford boss Derek McGrath said after of the officials’ sideline call against Gleeson.
“Two lads coming together, Brendan Maher and himself, we just felt the ball was kept in very well by Austin, in terms of the skills he demonstrated in taking the ball on in the tackle.
“We never really argue about decisions, we wouldn’t be clinging to that, the penalty came on the back of it and we seemed to fade out of it after that. In the overall sense we’d be disappointed in the slight capitulation in the last 10 or 15 minutes.”
In the blue and gold corner, Michael Ryan had this take on the incident: “I didn’t see it, I wouldn’t have seen it, but it’s like everything. There are games to be played on the field and on the sideline as well, and we have to fight our battles.
“We weren’t getting a huge amount, I felt some of the yellow cards were harsh for me — maybe we put a bit of pressure on the linesman, but we’re not known for winning those duels.”
Waterford opened with the wind — and Austin Gleeson as an orthodox centre-back — but they were often wasteful in the first half, relying on Patrick Curran’s free-taking. At one point Waterford hit four wides on the spin, and later in the half Tipp had six consecutive wides, but at half-time Waterford had one to spare, 0-10 to 0-9.
Tipp almost goaled immediately on the resumption, Stephen O’Keeffe saving well from Paudie Feehan, but Tipp were soon three points in front.
Cue O’Brien’s fine goal on 48 minutes, and Forde’s penalty in response. Tipperary then took the initiative and ran out easy winners, some fine Ronan Maher strikes the highlight, while Waterford had two scores — O’Brien’s goal and a late Jamie Barron point — in the second half.
Afterwards McGrath pointed out the league’s purpose — to find out about players.
“We have a 21-day period from May 27 to June 17 where we have four games in 21 days. We can’t find out whether we need Peter Hogan, DJ Foran, Ian Kenny for those games because I can’t see it being done. Why are they on the panel then? Because they need game time, so it’s about mixing and matching through the league for us.
“But it’s not about us being relaxed. Our dressing room is the most motivated it has been in a long time, it’s not us having shoulders back and not giving a damn about the league. We want to represent Waterford but we’re not where we want to be, yet, physically, because we were a little later going back.”
For his part, Michael Ryan was happy with his side’s work rate in the second half: “We needed to check ourselves at half-time on that, but the guys set high standards for themselves. I no more than needed to remind them that that wasn’t the level.
“The second half was pleasing but this is winter hurling. We’re in the first days of spring, but it doesn’t feel like it. Will this count in the latter stages of the league? No. Will it count in the Munster championship? No. But for the here and now, it’s a good workout.”
J. Forde (1-8, 1-0 pen, 4 frees, 1 65); R. Maher (0-4, 1 SL); N. McGrath (1 SL), S. Curran (0-2 each); M. Breen, J. McGrath, S. Curran, B. Maher (0-1 each).
M. O’Brien (1-0); P. Curran (frees), M. Kearney (0-3 each); B. O’Halloran, DJ Foran, I. Kenny, A. Gleeson, J. Barron (0-1 each).
S. O’Keeffe, S. Fives, B. Coughlan, I. Kenny, M. O’Brien, A. Gleeson, K. Bennett, S. Roche, M. Kearney, K. Moran, C. Dunford, B. O’Halloran, S. Bennett, DJ Foran, P. Curran.
Subs: P. Hogan for Roche (19); S. McNulty for Gleeson (inj, 49); J. Barron for O’Brien (52); P. Mahony for Dunford (57); M. Walsh for Bennett (60).
P. Maher, A. Flynn, T. Hamill, S. O’Brien, J. O’Dwyer, Paraic Maher (c), P. Feehan, R. Maher, B. Maher, D. McCormack, N. McGrath, S. Curran, M. Breen, J. Forde, J. McGrath.
P. Shanahan for McCormack (inj, 5); J. Barry for O’Dwyer (inj, 10); Patrick Maher for Shanahan (57); C. Darcy for Curran (68).
Referee: C. Lyons (Cork).