MUNSTER SHC SEMI-FINAL
Tipperary 3-14 Waterford 1-12, Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Eoin Kelly was again to the fore as Tipperary won through to the Munster SHC final, holding Waterford at bay for a 3-14 to 1-12 victory at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
The Mullinahone forward scored 2-09 – 2-03 from play – to eclipse his 0-14 haul against Limerick last month and set up a provincial decider against All-Ireland champions Cork on June 25.
Kelly netted after 10 and 28 minutes – the second a kicked finish – to give Tipp a 2-06 to 0-04 lead at the break.
Waterford nudged back to within two points thanks to Dan Shanahan's 55th-minute goal, but a Lar Corbett major and three late Kelly points saw Tipp home.
Beaten by Waterford in the championship in both 2002 and 2004, Tipp faced into the breeze in the first half but still made much the better start in front of 27,680 spectators.
Both sides lined out as selected with Waterford's Ken McGrath, who started at centre back despite a thumb injury, and Tipperary full back Philly Maher (knee) passed fit to play.
Wides blighted Waterford's early play – indeed they ended the first half having struck 11 wides.
Kelly flicked over a ninth-minute free to open the scoring and just 50 seconds later he profited from a neat catch and run by Diarmuid Fitzgerald to grab his first goal.
Fitzgerald took a delivery over the head of Eoin Murphy and blazed off towards the Déise goal before hand-passing for his fellow corner forward to shoot low to the left corner of Clinton Hennessy's net.
Waterford skipper Paul Flynn replied with a point, Kelly notched his first from play and Eoin McGrath quickly answered back from the right flank, but Tipp were well on top and it was beginning to show on the scoreboard.
John O’Brien snapped up a Hennessy clearance to point, Kelly added a 65 after Tipp captain Redser O'Grady had a goal chance palmed away by Hennessy. A Kelly free had the Premier men 1-05 to 0-02 in front midway through the half.
The pressure was telling on Justin McCarthy's men. They were trying shots from all angles. Jack Kennedy, Shanahan and Dave Bennett were the guilty parties during a bout of wayward shooting.
Flynn was their only scorer for the remainder of the half, slotting over frees on 25 and 29 minutes.
Kelly's second goal was all his own work – the 24-year-old raced away from championship newcomer Denis Coffey and right-footed beyond the advancing Hennessy to push Tipp 2-05 to 0-03 ahead.
John Carroll answered Flynn's second free with a 33rd-minute point – he pointed the rebound of a goal-bound shot after another excellent run by Fitzgerald.
Ken McGrath's switch to midfield was a clever one for Waterford as they got on top for the early part of the second half. The Déise outscored Tipp by 1-06 to 0-04 for the first 20 minutes with the influential McGrath bagging two points.
The sudden pressure on Tipp intensified coming up to the hour mark when Shanahan galloped through unchallenged from the right wing to fire in a low shot that bulged the left corner of Brendan Cummins' net.
Now only 1-10 to 2-09 down, McCarthy's outfit were right back in it and with John Mullane bounding onto the field, the result was now in some doubt.
However, three minutes later, clinical Tipp closed the door. Fitzgerald was again the provider – he cracked in a brilliant ball for substitute Corbett to ghost onto and rifle beyond the dive of Hennessy.
Waterford, left cursing a final wides tally of 15, added points from McGrath and Mullane – they could have had a goal too as Shanahan and substitute Paul O’Brien were denied by Cummins. But the final 10 minutes belonged to Kelly as he landed three more frees and a stunning point from play.
O'Brien was also on target.
Despite the eight-point triumph, Tipp manager Michael Babs Keating sounded a warning in the aftermath, insisting: "This performance would not do against any Cork team. We hurled only in patches and we have to remember that Waterford missed a lot of chances.
"Had they been more on the ball, it could have been a different story. We have a lot to work on and we've three weeks to do so."
TIPPERARY: B Cummins; D Fanning, P Maher, P Curran; E Corcoran, C O'Mahoney, H Moloney; C Morrissey, S McGrath; J Carroll (0-01), G O'Grady (capt) (0-01), J O'Brien (0-02); D Fitzgerald, M Webster (0-01), E Kelly (2-09 (4f, 2 ’65’)).
Subs used: K Dunne for Morrissey (half time), L Corbett (1-00) for Carroll (51 mins), S McDermott for Maher (57), P Kelly for O'Grady (63), D Egan for McGrath (70+2)
WATERFORD: C Hennessy; D Coffey, T Feeney, T Browne; B Phelan, K McGrath (0-03), E Murphy; M Walsh, D Bennett (0-01); D Shanahan (1-00), J Kennedy (0-01), G O'Connor; E McGrath (0-01), S Prendergast, P Flynn (capt) (0-05 (4f)).
Subs used: J Murray for Browne (9-13 mins, blood sub), J Murray for Prendergast, S O'Sullivan for O'Connor (both half time), J Mullane (0-01) for Bennett (47), P O'Brien for Kennedy (61)
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly).