We trudged along to this match in Thurles not really knowing what to expect. Winning all those challenge matches was all very well, but could we actully win a match of even moderate importance away from home. Wow. At half time the Waterford fans in Semple stood up and gave a thunderous ovation to the team after they absolutely creamed Tipperary in a performance of seismic proportions. And I’m only exaggerating a little. This really was splendid stuff. The game started off even enough but inexorably Waterford pulled away with some great scores. When Michael Kennedy scooped a rather jammy goal past Stephen Brenner to make it 0-8 to 1-3 we held our heads. Here we go again. Instead, Brenner’s puck-out sailed through the Tipp half back line, Paul Flynn gathered the breaking ball and galloped through for a cracking goal. Touché.
Angered by Tipp having the temerity to score a goal, Waterford ended the half by beating Tipp into the ground. Summing up this first half from heaven was the final score of the half. Fergal Hartley (who was a giant throughout) gathered a high ball and was clocked for his troubles. Advantage should have been played but never fear. Ken McGrath pointed from the long distance free. Could these boys do no wrong?
Well, yes actually. But not until late on. An early Liam Cahill goal in the second half didn’t phase Waterford who kept on racking up the scores and a thoroughly merited eight point win seemed assured as the Premier County’s faithful streamed towards the exits. Waterford had been utterly superb. Liam Cahill’s second goal only took away the gloss. But then came a moment that will haunt Stephen Brenner forever. A free out was awarded and he proceeded to tie his laces before taking it. The ref threw the ball in as punishment and Declan Ryan scored another goal as a result! The final whistle blew soon afterwards leaving us grinding our teeth that we had not really taught Tipp a lesson.
It was hard to stay upset for long though. We HAD taught a lesson to Tipp, one they would still be thinking about in June. We went home that night and the dream of distant glory began…
Waterford: Stephen Brenner, Stephen Frampton (capt.), Sean Cullinane, Mark O’Sullivan, Tom Feeney, Fergal Hartley, Peter Queally , Tony Browne, Gary Gater (0-1), Brian Greene, Ken McGrath (0-7, 0-4f), Ger Harris, Dan Shanahan (0-2), Billy O’Sullivan (0-1), Paul Flynn (1-6, 0-4f)
Tipperary: Brendan Cummins, Paul Shelly, Conor Gleeson, Michael Ryan (William Hickey), Liam Sheedy, John Carroll, Raymie Ryan (0-1f), Conal Bonner (Paul Kelly), Aidan Butler, Liam McGrath, Michael Lee (Michael Kennedy; 1-0), Kevin Tucker (0-2), Liam Cahill (2-0), Declan Ryan (1-0), Eugene O’Neill.
HT: Waterford 1-11 (14) Tipperary 1-3 (6)
Referee: Pat Delaney (Laois)