A spirited second half revival by Tipperary was not enough to salvage this opening Munster minor hurling championship encounter against Waterford.
Tipperary, nine points down seven minutes into the second half, put in an impressive resurgence to frighten the lives out of a Waterford team in the second half but fell just short after an enormous effort.
Playing with great heart and a momentum that unsettled the hosts Tipperary reduced the deficit to just a solitary point with five minutes left before running out of steam as the home side rallied in the closing five minutes to pull away from Tipperary again.
Tipperary hauled themselves back into this game, a game they should never have found themselves so much in arrears in because of the huge amount of possession they enjoyed in the first half, on the back of a number of vital positional changes and a fierce determination that ran throughout the side.
Moving Jason Forde from centre back to midfield was the move of the game and that allied with the switch of Liam McGrath into the full forward line brought about a second half revival.
Forde was simply magnificent in midfield and while his move into that area worked so successfully so did the other half of the equation with Eoin Fennelly taking up Forde’s position at centre back.
Fennelly had put in a good shift in midfield in the opening half, winning plenty of possession and delivering to the forwards who shot nine wides in the opening half.
His change early in the second half however to centre back not only released Forde to dominate the game from midfield but allowed Fennelly carry out a superb marking job on the Waterford dangerman Jake Dillon who was at the centre of every positive move by Waterford in the first half.
While Dillon added four points from frees in the opening five minutes of the second half to increase the Waterford lead to nine points to add to his first half tally of three frees and a point from play, he faded out of the game for a long period of the second half.
That was due to Fennelly’s ability to starve the talented De La Salle man of possession and as a result Waterford were unable to bring their dangerous forwards such as Adam O’Sullivan and Cein Chester into the game in that second half period when Tipperary took over.
In the first half Dillon was at the heart of everything . His movement and his ability to bring other players into the game caused massive problems for Tipperary.
Fennelly changed all of that and it was Forde who began the comeback with a glorious goal thirteen minutes into the second half to reduce the deficit to six points and it was game on at that stage.
Waterford capitulated after Forde drove the ball to the net , striking low and hard from a free, past the Waterford goalie and five defenders on the line.
The Tipp captain went onto to dominate the game from there, scoring the next point from play and playing a vital role in setting up scores for Tipp forwards as they continued to reel in Waterford.
Forde’s goal was followed by five Tipp points on the trot as Tipp went on the rampage.and the Premier county supporters got behind their team.
Waterford collapsed following Dillon’s fourth point of the second half. Tipperary were hurling like demons with John Meagher outstanding at full back and the stylish Thomas Hamill cleaning up at half back.
Tipp’s revival brought them to within a point of Waterford with just five minutes left in the game.Liam McGrath’s third point from frees in the second half brought them to just within a point of Waterford but that was to be Tipp’s last score of the game as Waterford rallied to hold on to victory.
Waterford managed to break the Tipp stranglehold on the game when Jake Dillon was fouled and the De La Salle man took the free himself to give the home team some respite.
That score with two minutes left in the game was crucial, it broke Tipperary hearts and gave Waterford renewed belief.Two minutes later Dillon added another free and in injury time Waterford sealed victory with a superbly taken goal from substitute Peter O’Keeffe who raced onto Stephen Bennett’s kicked pass to drive home to the net.
The relief around Walsh Park was palpable at the final whistle as Waterford celebrated the six point victory.
The foundation for that victory was established with a storming finish to the first half. It had been an even enough first half with Tipp shading possession but wasting numerous chances in front of goal.
They were punished for that waste in added time to the first half. Waterford were just one point ahead after thirty minutes but put considerable distance between themselves and Tipperary with a goal and a point before the half time whistle.
It was a well worked goal with Waterford taking full advantage of the failure of the Tipperary defence to deal with a high ball into the danger area. It fell to Cein Chester who struck off the ground to the net.
Waterfords five point half time advantage was enhanced by Jake Dillon’s devastating start to the second half but when the De La Salle man was quietened by Fennelly, Waterford failed to have the same menace about them and Tipperary drove back into the game falling just short after a thrilling second half.
Tipperary - James Maher (Clonoulty/R), James Bourke (Moycarkey/Borris), John Meagher (Loughmore/C), Jack Peters (Kilruane MacD), Cathal Barrett (Holycross/B), Jason Forde (1.1) (Silver-mines), Thomas Hamill (Killea), Conor Hammersely (Clonoulty/R), Eoin Fen-nelly (Mullinahone), Pat Ralph (Moycarkey/B), Liam McGrath (0.8, 0.7 from frees) (Loughmore/C), Tom Kirwan (Ballybacon/G), Cathal Horan (0.1) (Mullinahone), Sean Maher (0.1) (Clonoulty/R), Dan McCormack (0.2) (Borris-Ileigh)
Subs - Bill Maher (Kilsheelan/K) for Conor Hammersely; Barry Hef-fernan (Nenagh Eire Og) for Pat Ralph; Pat Ryan (Knockavilla) for Cathal Horan.
Waterford - Paddy Cooke, Jamie Barron, Damien Ahearn, Colin Walsh, Stephen O’Neill, Darren Foley, Jim Power, Ray Barry, Shane Roche, Darragh Flynn, Jake Dillon ((0.10), Adam O’Sullivan (0.3), Stephen Bennett (0.1), Chris Kirvick, Cein Chester (1.2).
Subs - Michael Harney (1.0) for Chris Kervick
Cormac Heffernan for Adam O’Sullivan
Shane McNulty for Shane Roche.