Waterford 1-14 (17) Tipperary 0-16 (16) – Giveitfong’s view

(originally posted by Giveitfong on boards.ie)

A marvellous and well-deserved victory for Waterford. I thought it was going to be another very frustrating experience, especiallywhen Lar Corbett got clear possession on the right wing just after Waterford had equalised, but he underhit his shot into the wind and it dropped short to Iggy O’Regan.

On the balance of play, Waterford really should have been well clear at half time, despite playing into the stiff wind. Although the defence did very well in terms of gaining possession, they gifted Tipp several points through misplaced passes and poor clearances. Meanwhile at the other end several good chances were wasted through underhitting shots into the wind. I think Brian O’Halloran was guilty of this three times.

It may be that Waterford relaxed expecting the game to come to them with wind assistance in the second half, but Tipp really upped their work rate after the change of ends and dominated the third quarter. Like against Kilkenny last week, Waterford couldn’t win a ball in the half forward line, and really we need to vary our puckout tactics to adjust to situations like this. Also, Waterford kept sending shortish balls down the wings rather than trying a few long balls into the goalmouth. In fact, the first time they tried this Seamus Prendergast made a great catch, and Cathal McAllister was too quick to blow for a free after Pender put Brian O’Sullivan in with a clear goal chance.

However, when push came to shove, Waterford really took over in the last ten minutes, with Brick making some marvellous clearances and Jamie Nagle thundering into the game. In the closing minutes they dug out the ball in a series of schemozzles around midfield, again showing the fantastic fighting spirit which has characterised this team since the league began.

I thought our goose was cooked when Pauric Mahony missed those two frees in a row, and really they should try out Jake Dillon as we need more reliability here. However, the three points which won it for Waterford were out of the top drawer – first Jamie Barron from a difficult angle out on the right wing, then Jake Dillon off his left out on the left, and then Kevin Moran’s coup de grace. Full marks to Brian O’Sullivan for constantly harassing Brendan Cummins as he came out along the end line trying to clear. Eventually Cummins was forced to make a loose clearance which Moran snapped up out on the left sideline. He did really well to evade two markers without fouling the ball, and then fired a magnificent ball over the bar.

Iggy O’Regan got no shot to save, which is a great tribute to the defence, but he did send two puckouts out over the sideline in the first half. His puckouts were very predictable, high up into the air in the first half against the wind and while he got good length into them with the wind in the second half, they were still easily won by the Tipp half back line.

The full back line did really well after a dodgy enough opening few minutes. Seamus Callanan did get five points from play, but he got a good supply of ball in from out the field and no full back in the country can match his pace. Brick was magnificent at centre back but we were weak enough at wing back for most of the game, and this is where we need to step up if we are to get more scores up front. I thought that Jamie Nagle was poor for 60 minutes, making a lot of mistakes and using the ball poorly, although he did make a big contribution to the late fightback. I thought that Paudie Prendergast struggled a bit on the other side, and was surprised that Darragh Fives was not brought in here.

Once again ,Shane O’Sullivan won a lot of ball in midfield, but took too much out of it at times and ran into trouble. Not everything went right for Kevin Moran, who started at midfield, but he kept at it and overall made a big contribution.

Brian O’Halloran played a lot of ball in the first half and scored two good points, but should have got more and faded out, with the rest of the half forward line, in the second half and was replaced by Darragh Fives. Seamus Pender as usual did a lot of hard work. Maurice Shanahan found it very hard to get possession, but the two good possessions he got in the first half led to the goal and a pointed free. He still needs a couple of games to recover full match fitness. He was replaced by Brian O’Sullivan midway through the second half.

Jamie Barron, apart from scoring 1-1, was very impressive with his work rate, ability to rob players in possession, and ability to look up under pressure and lay the ball off. Jake Dillon made his mark with two good points. While Martin O’Neill’s free-taking was impeccable, he made little impact in general play and was replaced in the final quarter by Pauric Mahony who used his strength to win a couple of vital 50/50 balls late on.. Waterford do need to figure out better ways of playing good ball into a forward line mostly made up of players of low stature.

The great thing about this team so far in the league is that, despite the relative inexperience of a lot of the players, they are playing a lot of good skillful and thoughtful hurling, while showing great collective fighting spirit. Today’s win, and the manner of it, were a great tonic.