Tag Archives: Tipperary

Waterford 1-19 (22) Tipperary 2-15 (21)

Waterford v Tipperary 19 April 2015 (1)

Joe Brolly was making the point recently that the GAA can’t expect a captive audience forever in the face of the relentless march of soccer or an Ireland rugby team duking it out with the best Europe has to offer, and he has a point that you can’t expect people to stay endlessly loyal despite repeated slaps in the face. Then again, sometimes people stay endlessly loyal despite repeated slaps in the face. It speaks volumes that the decision to stage the League semi-finals in Nowlan Park rather than dragging us all to sit miles away from each other in Thurles felt like a stroke of genius rather than something blatantly obvious.

And it helps keeping them loyal when the product is this good.

We rolled up to Nowlan Park just as the Dubs were rolling out after an implosion for the ages, reeled in by Cork after being given a 12-point head start. All of the pre-match optimism in Waterford would have been founded on the idea that we had nothing to lose, but that kind of result, or a merciless beating would soon disabuse a team of that notion, and there’s no one better than applying the timber to a team when they’re down than Tipperary. It seemed early on that they had a plan to unpick Waterford’s blanket with their first few puckouts targeted at wherever Jason Ford happened to be and he was trying to pull Waterford all over the place by popping up in different places each time. It felt precise enough not be random – be out on the 45 on the left-wing for the first one, come up to the halfway line for the second one puckout, and so on – and yielded a quick return as, after a couple of frees from Pauric Mahony, he gathered the ball in the midfield and hit a shot into the mix where Séamus Callanan broke the ball into the path of Patrick Maher. He had all the time in the world to collect the ball and fire past Stephen O’Keeffe.

This was how it was going to be. Having got our hopes up that we had devised a strategy that would make us contenders against the dross of Division 1B and the ever-so-obliging opponents that are Galway, it wouldn’t survive contact with a team that were, you know, good. We were already being reduced to impossibly difficult long range efforts from the likes of Austin Gleeson to compensate for the fact that there was no one in the danger zone. At the other end every Tipp attack reeked of danger, Barry Coughlan looking like a rabbit in the headlights of Séamus Callanan’s onslaught. The first encounter ended with him having to haul Callanan down with a tackle that would have gotten him a black card in football. The second encounter went better as he managed to hustle him out wide although the ref may have taken sympathy on him so soon after the yellow. Either way we were under a hideous amount of pressure and it was the outlet of Jason Ford that proved crucial again as, after Tipperary had to re-take a puckout for the crime of not waiting for the whistle, Ford won the puckout and released Brendan Maher who in turn put John O’Dywer in space to bat the ball past O’Keeffe.

Waterford v Tipperary 19 April 2015 (9)

Eamon O’Shea would say after the game that he felt Tipperary never got going, but I think he was confusing a lull you get in the crowd at the start of the second part of a double header with a lack of intensity because Tipp were all over us here. Callanan was certainly up for it, sending over a great score from way out right and drawing yet another foul to allow him to stretch the lead to seven after only 15 minutes. Seeing Colin Dunford back on his own 45 clearing the ball emphasised how under the cosh we were and when a storming Kevin Moran run ended in a free out as he was completely left without support, the feeling of dread about how this would be treated on boards.ie was building to a crescendo. Yes, that’s the way I think during a game.

What we could do with here was some stirring play and a soft free, and both arrived in the shape of a run from Dunford which ended with him hitting a low ball into the middle where there were finally some Waterford players, and the ref awarded a free for not very much. Mahony took the point – things were so grim that I did briefly wonder whether he should go for a goal – and with the next Waterford attack Maurice Shanahan managed our first point from play, with a lovely turn and strike. Some clumsy defence from Waterford gave Tipp a 65 which Callanan duly scored but there was more stirring play to come as Austin Gleeson raced from his own half past the entire Tipp back division. His shot at goal was weak and easily saved but goodness, he had earned the right to have a go.

Upon reflection, this may have been the period where Eamon O’Shea felt his team failed to keep up the intensity levels. The wind was strange with no impact in the corner we were sitting between the old stand side and the City End terrace – it’s a crying shame that I don’t feel able to put ‘City’ in sneer quotes any more – but was stiff enough on the other corners of the ground. The wind would certainly prove crucial in the second half. Then again, Waterford were now beginning to show some of the form that had gotten them this far. They were now putting ‘em under pressure, forcing them out to the midfield where James Woodlock lobbed over a fine score to restore the seven point lead. A good advantage from Barry Kelly saw him call it back when no advantage accrued to allow Mahony to score from the free, then a cracking point from Dunford on his weak side lifted the spirits a bit more. Two further frees from Mahony followed, the second moved in from a narrow angle after some dissent which cheered us up no end, and suddenly the gap was down to three. Tipp managed a couple of good scores before half time, but that was the thing – they had to be good scores as Waterford were now well in their face, and it was Waterford who ended the half on the up, Mahony scoring after another storming run by Moran, showing that the support was now there for such a run, and another from a free for a high tackle on Dunford which showed the increased strain Tipp were now under.

Only three points in it at half-time. It seemed scarcely believable after the free-wheeling manner in which Tipperary had leapt out in front. The second half began with Tipp getting into an awful flap in trying to clear immediately beneath us and while they eventually did they were showing none of the tiki-taki stuff of the opening quarter. Mahony and Callanan exchanged points from frees before Michael Walsh batted the ball down to Jake Dillon to lash the ball over. A long-range effort from Callanan looked to be about to drift wide of the left-and post but just squeezed in, although it was noteworthy that the wind was catching such efforts at that end of the pitch. Everything Tipp were doing was under pressure while Waterford were bursting away from any challenge with incredible vigour. One move saw de Búrca and Philip Mahony power out of defence and release Jamie Barron to fire a point over on the run. Forget about blanket defence, this was classic direct hurling. Leave your man for dead, drive it forward in the direction of a team-mate and trust him to win the ball. In contrast, Tipp were having to shake off the hounds for every score, a fine Jason Ford point coming after what seemed like the entire Tipp forward line were pursued back and forth across the field like a bitch in heat. The Tipp subs were coming on in waves to try and hold back the tide as Walsh again knocked the ball down, this time into Shanahan’s path, to cut the lead to one.

Waterford v Tipperary 19 April 2015 (19)

I’m going to reach for the hyperbole bomb now. The intensity Waterford were bringing was like a certain team more frequently seen around these parts. Both the spirit and the flesh were willing and able to reduce opposition hurleys to matchsticks if that was required. What was missing was the wizardry up front, so it was almost too much to take when we saw some of that. Tipperary were dispossessed while on the attack for the umpteenth time, Kevin Moran thundered out of defence and played it up to Colin Dunford. He controlled the ball brilliantly, turned his man and raced off towards goal with a Mullane-like flourish. His strike was not so Mullane-like but it somehow squirmed past Darren Gleeson in the Tipp goal. A huge free from Mahony stretched the lead to three, and even when Tipperary manage to breach the Waterford wall, Stephen O’Keeffe was on hand to block the shot. Tipp were racking up the wides in the face of this onslaught, two shots drifting out to the left suggesting they were not calibrating for the wind, which was hardly surprising given the frenzy that faced them every time they got the ball. Another Mahony free after Shanahan had been fouled meant a four point lead, and Waterford had outscored their shell-shocked opponents 1-15 to 0-7 in the second and third quarters.

You couldn’t keep this up for the whole game so it was a pity that the clock down at the other end of the ground that ticked over to 70 minutes in the 60th minute was wrong. Tom Devine, who I am told by someone from up that part of the world would be pronounced Di-VINE, not De-VEEN, had a chance to finish it when he pounced on a loose ball after a strong Shanahan run, but his shot towards goal was blocked by one of the three or so defenders who managed to get in his way. In truth, justice was done as he clearly placed the bas of the hurley on the ball then picked it clean off the ground. Tipp finally ended a barren scoring run with a long-range free then a cheap free allowed Callanan to trim the lead to two and with at least eight minutes left. Shane Fives tried to get things firing again with a huge effort from the halfway line but it dropped short and Tipp were able to clear. The players were clearly flagging and while this didn’t lead to any shortage of effort – one incredible play saw Kevin Moran fling himself full length to block the ball and somehow emerge with it from the ground – another Tipp free left the gap at one. Brian O’Halloran, on as a sub and with fresher legs, perhaps should have done better soon after as he and Dunford combined to make the space for the shot. A couple of Tipp efforts fell short, with one leading to a crescendo of anticipation which showed that, contrary to any suggestions you might see from them, they really wanted this one. Thankfully they did fall short and they showed O’Keeffe comfortable under the high ball in a goal where he dropped a horrible clanger a few years ago.

Waterford v Tipperary 19 April 2015 (20)

Tipp did finally manage to get one right to level matters, and the dreaded extra time loomed. The next few minutes were utterly frantic (read: I put away the notebook, this was too much to deal with) and when Shanahan was fouled, a rather soft award in my opinion, you felt there weren’t going to be many chances after this one. It wasn’t a gimme from way out on the right but Mahony held his nerve to get our noses in front. I doubt if I have ever seen a Waterford free-taker land every chance, yet that was what he had done. Another thing to be optimistic about for the future. There was time for one more moment of madness in the game as yet another long ball drooped short in the Waterford square. Shane Fives found himself with the ball but facing the goalie at point-blank range. He did the sensible thing and lashed it out towards the corner flag where . . . . I couldn’t tell what had happened. It looked like it had gone out for a sideline, but the umpire signalled for a 65. It transpired later that the ball had hit the flag and the ref had correctly awarded a sideline ball. The whole discussion about it ate up more time and when the sideline ball came in he quickly awarded a free out to an explosion of relief all round.

At the risk of sounding hyper-critical, it was alarming how Waterford played those last few moments, twice lashing the ball out of play for a sideline as if it were rugby and that would be the end of the game. Never trust a ref not to act the maggot and play more than the ‘at least’ injury time announced. As it was, the second clearance did indeed bring the final whistle and a spectacular result for Waterford. The lone Tipp lad in our section who lustily roared for tap-over frees was given a rousing send-off as he made his escape, and when the Waterford players approached us it looked like they were coming to take our acclaim. It felt immediately strange – wait, we’ve won League semi-finals in recent years, nothing to get too excited about – but as it happened they were merely doing their warm-down. Ah feck it, we all thought, they’ve been magnificent as we applauded them heartily. What a turnaround from the last visit to Nowlan Park when Colin Dunford’s two goals into the same end were the lonely counterpoint to a dispiriting defeat. At the start of the year I would have not expected promotion, and if we got it then we’d surely get pounded by the Division 1A team we’d face, and if we somehow overcame them we’d get pounded by whatever team finished higher up that division, and if we somehow overcame them . . . I hadn’t thought that far ahead. Now that I can think ahead, I dare to think even further ahead. I’m going to get healthy, look after myself, cut out the junk food and get more exercise. Because I want to be there for when those further thoughts become reality.

Waterford v Tipperary 19 April 2015 (18)

Waterford: Stephen O’Keeffe, Shane Fives, Barry Coughlan, Noel Connors, Tadhg de Búrca, Austin Gleeson, Philip Mahony, Jamie Barron (0-1), Stephen Bennett (Brian O’Halloran), Kevin Moran (Eddie Barrett), Pauric Mahony (0-13, 0-11f, 0-1 65), Jake Dillon (0-1), Maurice Shanahan (0-3), Michael Walsh (Shane O’Sullivan), Colin Dunford (1-1).

Tipperary: Darren Gleeson, Paddy Stapleton (James Barry), Conor O’Mahony, Paul Curran (John Meagher), Michael Breen, Padraic Maher (0-1), Ronan Maher, James Woodlock (0-1), Shane McGrath (Gearóid Ryan), John O’Dwyer (Shane Bourke), Brendan Maher (capt), Jason Forde (0-1; Conor Kenny, 0-1), Séamus Callanan (0-8, 0-6f, 0-1 65), Patrick Maher (1-0), Niall O’Meara (0-2).

HT: Waterford 0-11 (11) Tipperary 2-8 (14)

Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath)


Only the Little People serve suspensions

There’s been a lot of discussion over the last few weeks on boards.ie about the looming absence of Séamus Callanan from the Tipperary team to play Waterford in the League semi-final. The consensus opinion was that it would be a better test of Waterford’s mettle if the free-scoring Tipp forward was present, particularly given the seemingly eternal concerns over our full-back line in the face of goal scorers. While I would be of the opinion that anything that enhances Waterford’s chances of success is a good thing, even in the much-maligned League – a day may come when we are so flush with success that can afford to look on it with disdain, but Sunday is not going to be that day – I could understand the logic of the position. It isn’t just a question of whether we have the personnel, it’s whether an entire system, one with the potential to transform our prospects and even the entire game of hurling, is really what we hope it is. Better to find out now that dream of making the Donegal-style tactics work in hurling is a pipe dream rather than later on when there is no chance to rectify it.

A lot of people will be satisfied then to see Callanan has been successful in his appeal against the red card, and there will be a lot of overlap with the subset who thought he didn’t deserve to get sent off in the first place. But while I can understand the position of the former, seeing the latter makes my blood boil. The issue at stake isn’t whether Callanan deserved to get sent off. The only question that should be considered by the authorities in any appeal is whether the rules were correctly applied. If the referee judged a player to have struck an opponent with the hurley and a review tells us that the player struck an opponent with the hurley, even with minimal force, that’s a red card. This includes the marching orders given to Michael Walsh and Shane O’Sullivan in the League last year, and the mild tap that resulted in a red card for John Keane in the 2012 Munster club final. Yes, they were harsh decisions. But as long as the referee is applying the letter of the law, you can’t claim you were hard done by. Let that be a lesson to you to show more care next time. That big piece of wood is for hitting the ball, not your opponent.

So how did Seamus Callanan get off the hook while the aforementioned Waterford* trio did not? I don’t think it’s far-fetched to suggest that there is one rule book for the Big Three and one for the rest of us. Recently we were all united in acclamation of King Henry. It was probably understandable amidst all the hosannas that no one saw fit to question why he felt the need to refer to the red card he received against Cork in the 2013 Championship. As with all of the red cards I have mentioned here, it was a hard call. But there was nothing substantively wrong with it, so the hysteria which greeted it could only be explained in the context of who it had happened to, not what had happened. The idea that it was a blot on his reputation was ridiculous. Countless players have been sent off over the years and no one bothers mentioning it come retirement. Yet not only did Henry feel the need to bring it up upon his retirement, he managed to make us aware of the fact that he had been sent off before in an obscure Minor game, so his reputation was well and truly in the toilet anyway, right?

That same summer, we had a similar ho-ha over Pat Horgan’s red card in the Munster final against Limerick. The result was the same – red card rescinded. You can see the pattern emerging. Maybe you don’t think that’s fair, the suggestion that players from the Big Three are getting treated more leniently than those from the other counties. There are plenty of examples out there of harsh decisions against Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary players that were not overturned, and perversely the pattern would suggest that referees are happy to hand out cards to the biggest names without fear nor favour. After all, they don’t come any bigger than Henry Shefflin. But how else can you explain the strict support for the final word of the referee in the cases of Keane, Walsh and O’Sullivan and the after-the-fact undermining of them that took place in the cases of Horgan, Shefflin and Callanan? At best, it’s too small a sample size to be significant and the authorities are making it up as they go along. At worst, they are so starry-eyed by the big names from the big counties that the entreaties about shure he’s a grand lad who would never harm a fly gain traction. Whatever the truth, it’s not good when it comes to a supposedly rule-based endeavour.

*I believe John Keane is from Tipperary, but if you are playing for a Waterford club you are not representing Tipperary.

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

(originally posted on boards.ie)

Missed goal chances, the concession of silly frees and various other unforced errors cost Waterford what would have been a famous, and deserved, victory over prematch favourites Tipperary in tonight’s Munster minor hurling championship game in Thurles. If you were told before the game that the starting Tipperary forwards would manage just a single goal from general play between them, and that their overall total from play would be 1-3, you would surely have expected Waterford to win this game.

And, in truth, they should have won comfortably. While Tipp had their moments, Waterford were the better team here and were a credit to their mentors who had their charges well prepared, well drilled, well focused and on top from the word go. They led for most of the first half, fell behind to a fortunate Tipp goal just on half time, went ahead again immediately after the restart, were still ahead after 50 minutes and had enough possession in the closing stages to close the game out.

That Waterford failed to win can be put down mainly to their failure to convert four clear goal-scoring chances and the needless concession of frees in scorable positions which were routinely punished by Tipp sharpshooter Daragh Cary who nailed eight in all, assisted by centre back Brian McGrath who converted two 65s and one long-range free.

Even the late converted 65 which gave Tipperary victory in the end was a result of an unforced error in the Waterford defence. Corner back Darragh McGrath, under pressure, passed the ball back to unmarked full back Conor Prunty. However, Prunty (who otherwise had an excellent game) failed to control the ball which allowed the Tipp forwards to surge in on goal. Some desperate defence managed to keep them out, but the ball was deflected out for the converted 65 which gave the home side the narrowest of victories.

On a beautiful evening, before an official attendance of 2,821, Waterford quickly got into their stride, driven on by captain Darragh Lyons who lined out at centre back. They had their first missed goal chance after just two minutes, when a poorly struck shot from the edge of the square was hit straight at the goalie. They were having some problems against a strong Tipperary half back line who were very good in the air, but with their own defence dominating proceedings, they were getting enough ball into the inside line to force Tipperary into conceding frees which were unerringly converted by full forward Jack Prendergast. Meanwhile in the right corner Aaron O’Sullivan was having a dream game, nailing four points from play by half time, with Glenn Waters in the other corner also landing a lovely score.

Another goal chance went abegging in the 12th minute when Waterford got the ball into the Tipperary square but no one could get the vital touch to send it over the line. One of O’Sullivan’s points should also have been a goal, as he drove the ball inches over the crossbar from point blank range in the 28th minute. That would have put Waterford four points ahead and really in the driving seat coming up to half time. They were to rue these misses when, as often happens in these situations, Tipperary managed to find the net with their first goal-scoring attempt one minute later. After a shot had been blocked out to the left, the ball was returned to the Waterford goalmouth where a defender crucially failed to keep possession and in the ensuing melee, which looked like an old-fashioned rugby foot rush, the ball was eventually forced over the line leaving Tipp ahead, 1-7 to 0-9, at the interval.

Two quick points after the restart put Waterford back in the lead and, with their defence continuing to do well, they reached the 50th minute still ahead, 0-14 to 1-10. However, they were unable to extend their lead beyond the bare minimum. JP Lucey, with an easy tap-over point at his disposal, decided to take on the Tipp defence looking for a goal and was eventually forced out over the end line and I think it was the same player who, some minutes later, missed the fourth goal chance when his point blank shot was stopped on the line when he should have done better. If either of these chances had been converted, I reckon there would have been a different result to the game.

Tipp eventually drew level before going ahead with the aforementioned 65. The referee played four minutes of added time which gave Waterford ample opportunity to get the equaliser. However, nothing went right (or was done right) in those four minutes. Peter Hogan’s hurried shot went wide of the post. Darragh Lyons, running onto a lateral pass in midfield, failed to control the ball and was then adjudged to have handled it on the ground. Substitute Eoghan Murray, attempting to round his man on the right, was forced out over the sideline.

Big-hitting goalkeeper Billy Nolan, instead of letting the ball down the field, attempted to find Darragh Lyons out on the right but overhit his puck. Then, in the dying moments, Conor Prunty did well to gain possession and pass the ball out to Jordan Henley. However, instead of driving the ball up to the forwards, inexplicably he attempted a lateral pass to Darragh Lyons which again was overhit and went out over the sideline. The ensuing sideline was followed by the final whistle.

Apart from conceding unnecessary frees, the Waterford defence gave an excellent account of themselves. Apart from the scrambled goal, they conceded just two points to the opposing forwards, both scored by substitute Lyndon Fairbrother shortly after he was introduced late in the first half. However, the defence quickly got to grips with this new threat and little was seen of him afterwards. Tipp’s only other score from play was landed by midfielder Liam McCutcheon.

I thought that, apart from his late error, Conor Prunty did very well at full back, using his height and reach to repeatedly bat away high incoming ball. Darragh Lyons played some marvellous hurling at centre back, but was in trouble in the air against his marker. However, this threat was well countered by the judicious switch of Jordan Henley to the centre after half time.

Calum Lyons did well at midfield and notched two excellent points. However, his partner, JP Lucey, never got into the game and, having been moved to the forwards, was eventually substituted after his two second-half misses. The Achilles heel of the Waterford team was the half forward line, which always struggled against strong opponents who were very good in the air. Andy Molumby did some good work, but Peter Hogan made no impression and, while Eddie Meaney looked threatening when he did get possession, his lack of physicality and failure to compete for ball were key problems throughout.

In the full forward line, Aaron O’Sullivan failed to repeat his first-half heroics after the change of ends (due, in no small part, to a reduced supply of good ball). While unerring from frees (he scored six in all, some from difficult angles), Jack Prendergast was unable to contribute further from general play, while Glenn Waters’s impact was also limited. Ballyduff Lower’s John Kennedy, who missed this game due to injury, should certainly be able to strengthen the forward division if he is fit for the next game. This will be away to Limerick on May 6 and, with the latter shipping a heavy defeat in Cork tonight, Waterford must have a good chance of qualifying for the semi-final which would be in Walsh Park against Cork, as far as I am aware.

Waterford: Billy Nolan (Roanmore); Darragh Lynch (Passage); Conor Prunty (Abbeyside); Darragh McGrath (Abbeyside); Jordan Henley (Tallow); Darragh Lyons (Dungarvan, 0-1 from free); Cormac Dunphy (Ballyduff Lower); Calum Lyons (Ballyduff Lower, 0-2); JP Lucey (Shamrocks); Peter Hogan (Ballygunner); Andy Molumby (Cappoquin, 0-1); Eddie Meaney (De La Salle, 0-1); Aaron O’Sullivan (Cappoquin, 0-4); Jack Prendergast (Lismore, 0-6, all frees); Glenn Waters (Dungarvan, 0-1). Substitutes used: Michael Roche (De La Salle); Eoghan Murray (Cappoquin).

Other substitutes listed: Donagh Looby (Ballinameela); David Cullinane (Ballygunner); Jake Beecher (Tallow); Cárthach Barry (Brickey Rangers); Mikey Daykin (Mount Sion); Mark Mullally (Ballygunner); Andrew Casey (Ballyduff Upper).

A tale of two leads

Twice in the space of a week Waterford teams let big leads established early in the second half slip. Last weekend Ballysaggart were ten points up against Kickham Creggans – or is it Creggan Kickhams? It seems to be the former but the latter is used by what should be reliable sources, sometimes in the same report – and yesterday the county team let a five point lead slip against Tipperary.

There’s a big difference between ten points and five points, although when you consider it was a ten-point swing for Ballysaggart, who ended up level at full-time, and an eight-point one for Waterford, who lost by three, it’s not that big. The manner of the swings was different as well. Without wanting to dismiss the achievements of Ballysaggart, and they’ve done themselves and the county proud, it seems hard to claim that they were anything other than second best to their Antrim opponents. The ten point lead probably flattered them a little, padded out as it was with three goals, and the way CK/KC horsed them out of it for much of the 110 minutes that followed means they don’t need to feel they left it behind them. I don’t think the same can be said for Waterford, who hit eight wides in the first half and were finally undone by a horror show goal as a free out from Tipperary goalkeeper Darren Gleeson sailed all the way to the net. It’s hardly the end of the world for the new management team – only twice in thirteen previous League visits have Waterford left Thurles with maximum points – but an opportunity to make a bold statement has been missed.

What both ties have in common is the nagging feeling that Waterford teams don’t have what it takes to make those kind of leads count. The smirking that accompanied Waterford’s late implosion in the Munster Minor final was hard to take, and that was just from people within the county exasperated at what they saw as showboating on the part of a team that was getting arrogant about their own ability. Close it out with the minimum of fuss? Not the Waterford way.

I’m reading too much into this, but the rub is that I’m reading anything into it all. Last year it was Tipperary who let as big a lead slip much later in the game against us, yet you can be sure they haven’t given it a second thought since. If nothing else Derek McGrath would be a success if we could stop having these thoughts. The reduced angst would make it all worthwhile.

National Hurling League fixtures 2014

After much to-ing and fro-ing, the League format is settled for 2014. The provisional fixtures are out and using the magic of the intrawebs we’ll be able to update them as more information emerges (translation: at the time of writing, apart from the opening game under lights in Thurles, I’m guessing about the venues).

[table id=264 /]

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).

Waterford 1-15 (18) Tipperary 2-18 (24) – Minor

Why is 7pm in mid-April considered a good time to stage hurling matches? I have a theory that is, as usual, constructed on an edifice of anecdote and supposition. The late and much-lamented Dougie Partridge of Tramore was notorious for the vagueness of his timing for evening training sessions. An inquiry as to when training would start would be met with the Delphic utterance, “after tea”. To Dougie, a product of a time when dinner took place just after the first Angelus of the day and tea just after the second one, this was all the answer that was required. You’d head off to training after the last slurp of tea went down your gullet and not one second before. And I can’t help thinking that mentality persists. Throw the ball in at 6.30pm? How could one be expected to linger on mopping up the yolk of your fried egg with the heel of the loaf if you had to charge out the door just after the passion and cross were brought to the glory of his resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord? Better to be playing in pitch darkness than have that horror visited on Gaeldom.

01 Waterford v Tipperary 11 April 2013 - Minor

So it was that Waterford and Tipperary’s Minor hurlers pitched up in Walsh Park with one eye firmly on the sky. While I may lament such things that the GAA does wrong, there was much to be pleased about with the team sheets as the Waterford team featured an astonishing thirteen different clubs. We must be doing something right to not be picking from a handful of city teams as you might instinctively expect, and it was one of the stars of Dungarvan Colleges’ All-Ireland colleges triumph who opened the scoring with an early free. The remainder of the full-forward line took up the next play when DJ Foran played in Michael Kearney but he hesitated when there seemed to be an opening to bear down on goal and by the time the chance was lost he was in a worse position than he had been to  begin with ans his effort drifted wide.  A cheap foul at the other end allowed Josh Keane to level matters from a free. He was out of position so a quick puckout was a good idea but the ref whistled it back. Never mind though, the puckout was expertly fielded by Adam Farrell and slotted over to restore Waterford’s lead.

For all of my bleating about the light, or potential lack of it, in every other respect these were perfect conditions for hurling – dry, no wind and no sun in your eyes (ahem) – and the forwards were clearly going to make hay. Waterford nearly made a whole bale in one go when Colm Roche intercepted a clearance and sent the ball back into Foran who managed to wriggle his way into a goal position. Unfortunately his shot his the post when perhaps it should have gone nowhere near it, although that was nowhere near as unfortunate as Curran’s failure to react quickly enough to it, slashing ineffectually at the ricochet with the goal at his mercy. Still, he showed commendable calm in the face of that disappointment when Brian Hogan in the Tipp goal ran the ball out of the play and Curran scored from the 65. It was a reasonably satisfying outcome, but if anyone felt that way about the interception that led to it all, it soon evaporated as Austin Gleeson at centre-back gifted two points to Tipp with two intercepted gaffes of his own, the first allowing Colm O’Riordan to score and the second rammed over the bar with a vengeance by Seán Ryan. With Curran knocking over a free in between after his run had been ened rather abruptly, we have seen seven scores in the first seven minutes. Clearly it wasn’t going to be a war of attrition.

38 Waterford v Tipperary 11 April 2013 Action 1 - Minor

The ridiculous openness of the game continued, Keane stroking over a long range point after a chop on one of his teammates to level matters, Curran responding immediately with a lovely catch-and-strike, then O’Riordan providing an indentikit score at the other end from the puckout. Quick as you like Waterford were back on the attack and Kearney drew a free to allow Curran to put Waterford back in front Sport is usually better when there are more scores, but this was like a basketball game and (dare I say it) was a little bloodless as a result.

Then again, you could live without the excitement generated when a Waterford player gets caught out in the manner goalie Seán Clancy was when Keane managed to nick the ball off him as he advanced from his goal to clear. There seemed nothing between the Tipp forwards and the Waterford goal but the backs did just enough to put the Tipp forwards off, or someone screwed up mightily. Either way the ball was went wide, most likely from a boot, and we could all breath again. Waterford made good use of that let-off  as Tom Devine pounced on a loose clearance – can you spot a pattern emerging here? – to open up a two point lead, then Mark O’Brien benefited from some tidy forward play down the right to give us a three-point lead. When Curran drew yet another foul to get yet another free for yet another point to leave us four points up, it was looking very good.

14 Waterford v Tipperary 11 April 2013 - Minor

Alas, that was as good as it got for Waterford up until (literally) the last puck of the half. For all of the points we had scored we looked more open to breaks behind the full-back line and were relieved when Conor Lanigan was hustled out wide when a more direct route to goal was available. Brian  Hogan’s puckout is clearly a weapon available in this regard and there was snow on a effort from the 45 that was cleared by Waterford but in trying to emerge from the back line Cian Leamy stumbled and touched the ground with the ball in his hand. We knew this because a Tipp know-it-all behind us said so. In fact, he said it at least five times to the assembled Déisigh whose vocal groans of exasperation demonstrated that they clearly didn’t know the rules of the game. Thank heavens he was on hand to educate us all. Keane slotted the ball over the bar, then did the same for a much longer effort after Kevin Daly had swung around the neck of O’Riordan in a foul so blatant that even us townie ignoramii didn’t need to be told.

It might look at this stage like Josh Keane was just taking frees, but he was popping up everywhere in much the manner Seamus Callinan did a few weeks back. The Waterford full-back line were living on their wits and Keane almost got in around the back again only to hesitate – can you spot a pattern emerging here? – and be crowded out. Moments later he was the ball again under the stand, tied his marker in knots, and was unlukcy to see his effort drift wide. He then put Ryan in the clear where he was fouled and Keane knocked it over. More carelessness in the Waterford back line followed and there was a sniff of a goal in the chance before Shane Hennessy drilled it over to level matters.

39 Waterford v Tipperary 11 April 2013 Action 2 - Minor

And it was about to get a whole lot worse. A wild pull by Shane Bennett on a ball that was dropping nowhere near him typified how rattled Waterford seemed to be, and what seemed inevitable – Keane getting behind the full-back – happened as inevitable things do, Tipperary sweeping up the field after some loose play by Curran. Leamy did what he had to do, dragging Keane down as far out as he could. It looked to me to be outside the area, but the ref indicated a penalty and you couldn’t complain given the blatant nature of the foul. He duly dispatched the penalty to the net with the minimum fuss and almost immediately followed it up with a magnificent effort from way out right to stretch the lead to four. We were listing alarmingly, so it was just as well that there was time for one more attack. Austin Gleeson drove a long ball into the corner which was expertly gathered by Foran. He popped the ball to Kearney who eschewed previous hesitancy by driving a superb shot over the crowd of players between him and the goal into the top of the far corner of the net. It was a cracking score, just the tonic for Waterford right on the stroke of half-time.

21 Waterford v Tipperary 11 April 2013 - Minor

I noted earlier how bloodless it had been, something I put down to the Munster championship setup which effectively sees the loser barely worse off than the winner, so it was surprising to see multiple digs being put in as they went off. It’ll be a poor day when matches between Tipperary and, well, anyone don’t matter. So it was great to see the Waterford County board introducing the low farce into the occasion that makes us cringe about the GAA but is what we love all the same. On came a deputation from Kilcohan Park with what the gentleman with the microphone referred to as “a fine baysht”. Echoes of the late Mick Lally’s gloriously batty turn in Oliver Stone’s Alexander where he referred to “a baysht fit for Philip of Macedon!” No disrespect to greyhounds, but this ‘baysht’ was no Bucephalas. Still, the dog night is in a good cause (the training fund). And it’s certainly a lot more worthwhile than Alexander.

A soft free for a foul on O’Riordan allowed Keane to pick up where he had left off in the first half, while Waterford seemed not to have shaken off the funk that had enveloped them like the dusky gloom over Walsh Park. A player I couldn’t identify was fortunate to get away with a tackle around the neck on Tipp midfield Willie Connors and while Keane showed feet of clay when dropping the ball short Waterford were fortunate again to get a free out when Kevin Daly could just as easily have been done for steps as he emerged with the ball. Given the conditions, the game was not that hard to referee which made the odd decisions Jer O’Connell made look even odder. On two occasions he had to throw the ball in and proceeded to fling the ball past everyone near him like he was road bowling. Maybe we’ll see him in Fenor in a couple of weeks.

40 Waterford v Tipperary 11 April 2013 Action 3 - Minor

Meanwhile the cracks in the back line were being barely patched up by Waterford, with Conor Lanigan getting the freedom of the park to open his account. We were still carrying some sting at the other end though, Foran winning the puckout and teeing up Farrell who got a garroting of his own and allowing Curran to get one back. Lanigan had a chance to strike back but it was almost as if he had too much time and his shot drifted languidly into Clancy’s lap. His clever quick pass to his corner-back set Waterford right back on the offensive which ended with substitute Conor Gleeson scoring on the run and when Hogan directed one of his monster puckouts out for a sideline, you began to hope that the spell that had seen Waterford go from four points to four points down was behind us. When the ref inexplicably ignored a Waterford player scything the legs from under a Tipperary player who was about to catch the dropping ball, you began to feel this might be our say, a feeling reinforced when Waterford nimbly cleared a ball out of defence with some close passing and a ‘foul’ on Farrell gave Waterford a free that gave the Tipp fans collective heart attacks and Curran the chance to level matters.

41 Waterford v Tipperary 11 April 2013 Action 4 - Minor

Ah, don’t ever get yer hopes up, because then you have further to fall. Another poor effort by Lanigan seemed to be bouncing harmelessly wide, or at least that seemed to be what Clancy thought i nthew Waterford goal. But instead it stayed in and William Hahessey had to go and collect it. It’s hard to tell whether he fell over or was pushed by Josh Keane. The ref clearly thought the former and that’s how it looked to me. Either way, Keane was suddenly in acres of room and made no mistake with the goal from point blank range. Even the Tipperary supporters seemed too shocked to celebrate, so abrupt was this turn of events.

Not that Tipp rested on their laurels, with Connors scoring a point of almost impudent ease from the puckout.  Curran managed to pull one back from a free after, as is his wont, drawing the foul but Tipp wer eclearly on the front foot. When Seán Ryan had a shot charged down Willie Connors steamed straight onto it and smacked it over the bar. Austin Gleeson was lucky to get away with some extremely loose play when Lanigan picked the ball off the ground when it seemed easier to use his hurley.

31 Waterford v Tipperary 11 April 2013 - Minor

It was probably fortunate for Waterford at this stage that the game settled into a messy period when the ref could have whistled up for fouls on numerous occasions but instead opted to ‘let the game flow’. It’s a man’s game, doncha know. This had the effect taking a little of the wind out of Tipp’s sails and when he did decide to whistle up it was for a foul on Mícheal Harney from which Curran did the needful to keep the gap at a manageable three. Another Keane free soon took the gap back to four but we were still in this and when a long-range free dropped into the mixer there was a moment when Tipp were finding to so hard to clear that you thought it had to end up with a goal. More and more players were sucked into the maelstrom and there was the bizarre sight of the best part of 20 players hacking away in the Tipp square before they finally cleared the ball and, in a game of few goal-scoring chances, Waterford’s hopes went with it.

Jer O’Connell then got walloped by a passing sliothar leading to treatment, some cruel chuckles in the stand, and a throw-in which this time he got right. From the resultant play Waterford got a free and Curran once again took the point. It was a fantastic display of deadball play, and given the woes we’ve experienced over years with freetakers is very encouraging for the future. In the here and now it brought the gap back to three but there was never a feeling that we were going to get on top of them and so it proved. The Tipp know-it-all said from that they “need one more to win” so it was a great surprise that when Keane scored that “one more” he didn’t get up and head for the exit. Chance would have been a fine thing. Still, it felt like an insurance score and with news coming through Cork’s win over Clare thoughts began to turn to lowering the Banner next week. Tipperary were now cocky enough for Keane to knock a free short to Lanigan to score and he rounded off the day with a score on the run when he might have taken it on for goal had he been so inclined. In between those scores Waterford had a free from Stephen Bennett saved, and it’s a bit chasteningto think we were relying on some miracle effort from him when he’s not meant to be fully fit. Our very own Lionel Messi, eh?

37 Waterford v Tipperary 11 April 2013 - Minor

If the game had ended at half-time due to bad light, this would have been a vintage Waterford performance. In the cold light of day (ho ho) though, we need to question why Waterford barely turned up in the second half. They relied almost entirely on Patrick Curran for scores, which isn’t a bad tactic in itself but you’re going to need more variety from the forwards if you’re going to win matches. In a game of many mistakes and much cavalier play, it’s to be hoped that Waterford will learn a lot from this. They’ve only got six days though, and Clare’s underage record is more formidable than ours in recent times. They’d better learn fast, before the lights get turned out on the Minors for another year.

Waterford: Seán Clancy, William Hahessey, Sam O’Neill, Cian Leamy, Kevin Daly (capt; Cormac Curran), Austin Gleeson, Mícheal Harney, Mark O’Brien (0-1; Conor Gleeson, 0-1), Tom Devine (0-1), Shane Bennett, Colm Roche, Adam Farrell (0-1; Stephen Bennett), Patrick Curran (0-11, 0-9f, 0-1 65), DJ Foran, Michael Kearney (1-0)

Tipperary: Brian Hogan, Austin Tierney, Jason Ryan, Darragh Peters, Barry Heffernan, Ronan Maher, Tom Kirwan, Tom Fox (capt), Willie Connors (0-2), Seán Ryan (0-1; Fionan O’Sullivan), Colm O’Riordan (0-2), Shane Hennessy (0-2), Conor Lanigan (0-3), Josh Keane (2-8, 1-6f), Mark McCarthy (James Mackey)

HT: Waterford 1-9 (12) Tipperary 1-10 (13)

Referee: Jer O’Connell (Cork)

Blinded by the light?

When Ireland won golf’s Dunhill Cup in 1988, their success came only after their semi-final against England had to be suspended on the Saturday after Nick Faldo objected to poor visibility. With the Jocks never being slow to put the boot into the Sassenachs when the opportunity arose, Faldo came back the next day to his ball to find students displaying a banner saying “CAN YOU SEE THIS, FALDO?”

This incident came to mind yesterday evening when Brian Flannery tweeted about the inky murk enveloping Waterford city 24 hours before the Minor match against Tipperary:

As is the nature of Twitter there’s a lot of going back and forth with more heat generated than light (pun unintended), but the Munster Council were not taking this lying down, firing back:

They clearly were not concerned, and they could probably also point to us playing Clare in the 2010 Munster quarter-final on April 28th in Walsh Park. I don’t recall any issues with the light that evening. And as it happens, at the time of writing (about an hour before the throw-in) the sun is shining brightly over Waterford so it might all be a moot point.

Still, I can’t shake the feeling that Brian Flannery has it right here. You can see the difference between the light levels at the start of the game and the end of the game in 2010 below. There’s nearly a three week difference between the 11th and 29th of April, amounting about 15 minutes of daylight of difference each week. Add in extra-time, and it conceivably makes the image below on the right an hour earlier than where we will be at the end tonight. Perhaps I won’t be writing tomorrow about a stirring game of Minor hurling, but about yet another tedious example of officialdom not thinking things through, akin to those who chose Nick Faldo to be Ryder Cup captain.

01 Waterford v Clare 28 April 2010 (Minor)

27 Waterford v Clare 28 April 2010 (Minor)