Waterford 1-21 (24) Tipperary 2-21 (27) – Giveitfong’s view

(originally posted by Giveifong on boards.ie)

Waterford really should have won this game comfortably but they failed to translate their dominance of possession in the first 50 minutes onto the scoreboard and paid for it in the end. It was a fine night apart from a light shower about halfway through and the game was played on a fairly good pitch. The big crowd gave the game a bit of atmosphere but it was really exhibition stuff with few injury stoppages.

Waterford were without Shane Walsh, Paudie Prendergast, Brian O’Sullivan, Gavin O’Brien and Brian O’Halloran but otherwise started with their strongest 15. Tipperary kept a lot of their big guns in reserve although most of them saw action at some stage.

It is hard to believe that Waterford were only one point ahead at half time (0-13 to 1-9) such was their domination of the opening 35 minutes. Their defence was on top in all departments, but the standout performance in the first half came from Darragh Fives in midfield who obliterated Shane McGrath and helped himself to four points in the process. Tipperary’s first half goal came when a long ball in by McGrath fell nicely to Pa Bourke who first timed to the net from close range.

At the other end, the massive supply of ball going into the forwards was yielding poor results, due to a combination of some good defending, a series of shots dropping short, a super save by Darren Gleeson from Seamus Prendergast and a couple of other goal chances that went astray. However, the main problem was the poor quality of ball being sent to the inside line, with ball being sent straight down the pitch to players with defenders up their arses, with little diagonal ball or ball into open space.

Waterford continued to dominate after the change of ends, and when Seamus Prendergast pounced on a breaking ball to fire to the net, they seemed to be set for a good win. Indeed, shortly afterwards Prendergast was unlucky when a last-ditch hook saw his shot from close range go the wrong side of the post.

However, the second half substitutions generally strengthened Tipp and weakened Waterford, and the home side gradually reeled Waterford in with a goal from Shane Bourke puttinh them in pole position entering what we thought were to closing stages. Waterford came back again with Jamie Barron landing the equaliser and when shortly afterwards Waterford got a 65 it looked like it would be the winning score. However, Padraic Mahony’s poorly struck shot went left of the post.

The game then went on for ten more minutes (presumably by prior arrangement) during which period Tipp reasserted their dominance to finish three points in front.

Waterford played a lot of good hurling in this game and they seem to be in good shape in terms of skill levels and attitude. Iggy O’Regan played the first half in goal with Stephen O’Keeffe (who made one excellent save) filling the role after the change of ends, and there is no doubt that the trajectory of the latter’s puckouts is far superior to O’Regan’s.

Liam Lawlor had a superb game right through while Shane Fives again impressed in the corner. Barry Coughlan replaced Noel Connors for the second half and once he got up to the pitch of the game I thought he did well. Brick Walsh was masterful at centre back until replaced by Tony Browne early in the second half, with Kevin Moran also turning in a strong performance. On the other wing, Jamie Nagle played lots of ball, but his deliveries were repeatedly poor, due to his tendency to hit the ball blind or give away possession.

Dean Twomey replaced Darragh Fives at half time and had virtually no impact on the game in the second half. I thought both Maurice Shanahan and Padraic Mahony (who took turns with the frees) showed signs of coming back to their best form. They both got a lot of possession and probably should have put more on the scoreboard. Seamus Prendergast was excellent in the half forward line in the first half and at full forward in the second until running out of steam a bit towards the end.

Ray Barry started at corner forward where he made no impression but he did well when moved to the wing from where he notched three points. Jake Dillon left his good recent club form behind and had little impact, while his second half replacement, Martin O’Neill, did no better. Things didn’t go well either for Jamie Barron, but he did show his creativity on the few occasions that he got the ball into his hand. The bigger pitch in Thurles would probably suit him better.

Team: Ian O’Regan; Shane Fives; Liam Lawlor; Noel Connors; Jamie Nagle; Brick Walsh; Kevin Moran; Shane O’Sullivan; Darragh Fives (0-4); Maurice Shanahan (0-4, 3 frees); Seamus Prendergast (1-3); Jake Dillon (0-1); Ray Barry (0-3); Padraic Mahony (0-5, 2 frees); Jamie Barron (0-1).
Subs used: Stephen O’Keeffe, Barry Coughlin and Dean Twomey (half-time); Martin O’Neill, Eddie Barrett; Tony Browne (second half). There may have been a couple of other substitutions late on but it was hard to keep track and the subs’ numbers were different from what it said on the programme.

Under-21 challenge: Tipperary 1-22 Waterford 1-20

There was more of an edge to this game, as reflected in several injury stoppages. One of these involved the unfortunate Colin Dunford, who started very well and scored an excellent point but was forced off with what looked like a nasty leg injury after 15 minutes. Waterford were short five players who started in the senior game as well as Gavin O’Brien and Paudie Prendergast but still gave a good account of themselves and would probably not have lost had they taken a couple of tap-over points instead of looking for goals in the second half.

Tipperary had their emerging senior star Jason Forde playing, and dominated the first half, following which they led by 1-12 to 0-8 at half time. However, driven on by Shane McNulty and Donie Breathnach, Waterford charged back into the game after the change of ends and, with the help of a goal set up for Stephen Roche by Breathnach, they got back to parity ten minutes into the second half. The Waterford selectors then put on a slew of substitutes which clearly upset the team, and Tipperary regained total control to shoot six points on the trot.

However, to give them their due, Waterford fought back to dominate the closing stages and were unlucky, I thought, to be two points behind at the end.

Waterford had Darren Duggan in goal in the first half and Seanie Barry in the second. Both did well but I was particularly impressed by Barry’s distribution, especially from puckouts. They had a major problem at full back where Stephen O’Keeffe was at sea against the Tipp full forward. Eventually the selectors acted by moving Tadhg Bourke, who had started well at wing back, to the edge of the square with O’Keeffe moving to the corner, and Shane McNulty moving out.

This had a major impact on the game, as Bourke put the shackles on the full forward while McNulty (who starred at centre back for the county minors last years) proceeded to give a magnificent performance, completely dominating in his area for the remainder of the game. I see that De La Salle have also copped on and moved McNulty from the corner for their last game – I will never understand why they didn’t bring him on until it was too late in the Munster club final before Christmas.

Kieran Power did quite well at centre back as did Jim Power on the other wing. Waterford struggled a bit at midfield (I was surprised that Stephen Roche wasn’t deployed here) after Dunford went off while Eamon Murphy failed to get into the game at centre forward. Waterford played Cormac Heffernan on the wing when I think he is more useful in a central role. Donie Breathnach provided great leadership here, combining three points from play with eight from frees, and could have had a couple of more points were he not too eager to create goal chances.

Jack Lyons did a lot of good work and won a lot of ball both at full forward (where he started) and centre forward (where he moved to in the second half). Barry O’Sullivan also did some good work when he replaced Dunford.

Team: Darren Duggan (Dungarvan); Shane McNulty (De La Salle); Stephen O’Keeffe (Ballygunner); Shane Roche (Shamrocks); Tadhg Bourke (Clashmore); Kieran Power (Clonea); Jim Power (Butlerstown); Colin Dunford (Colligan) (0-1); Shane Ryan (Fourmilewater) (0-1); Donie Breathnach (An Rinn) (0-11, 8 frees); Eamon Murphy (Dunhill) (0-1); Cormac Heffernan (Ferrybank( (0-1); Stephen Roche (Mount Sion) (1-1); Jack Lyons (Ballyduff Lower) (0-1); Kieran Bennett (Ballysaggart) (0-1).

Subs used: Seanie Barry (Lismore); Tom Curran (Ballinameela); Ian Kenny (Ballygunner); Ray Ó Ceallagh (An Rinn); Barry O’Sullivan (Ballygunner).