Goal after glorious goal decorated Tipperary’s march to their third Munster title in four years in Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Sunday.
Tipperary eviscerated Waterford, tore their defence to shreds inflicting annihilation on a colossal scale.
The purity of the Premier team’s hurling was breathtaking on a day when free scoring forwards dazzled and the champions laid down a marker to opponents set on taking the All-Ireland crown from their grasp.
A seven goal blitz destroyed Waterford as Tipperary gave an exhilarating exhibition packed with pace, movement, artistry and clinical finishing.
They recorded the biggest score line in a Munster final since Cork’s mauling of Waterford in 1982.
On Sunday in Cork so comfortable was the stroll to victory that Tipp supporters could sit back and enjoy the goal fest, with devastated Waterford supporters heading for the exits at half time.
Lar Corbett followed up his All Ireland hat trick of goals to score 4.4 in this one sided Munster final, captain Eoin Kelly notched his 21st championship goal and legendary goalie Brendan Cummins received a standing ovation as he kept a clean sheet while equalling Christy Ring’s championship appearance record.
It was not only a day to celebrate the capture of another Munster crown, Tipp’s 39th, and a resounding victory over a team that had more than matched Tipperary in Munster over the last decade, it was the style, panache and consummate artistry that embellished the occasion that made such a triumph special.
Waterford were blown away, crushed by the power of Tipperary superiority all over the field.
That superiority was evident from the throw in as the inspirational Shane McGrath set the tempo and Tipperary moved up the gears from the very start.
Waterford went into the game with questions marks about how vulnerable their full back line was but by the final whistle, so impressive and overwhelming was Tipperary’s margin of victory, that Waterford had similar concerns about almost every position on the field.
Tipperary pounced as early as the third minute to expose the fragile nature of the Waterford full back line.
A precision delivery from Padraic Maher, again imperious in the half back line, caused consternation in the Waterford defence.
Corbett’s movement opened up Waterford and his finish was sublime.
Waterford had cracked early and the experiment to try Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh at full back had already begun to spectacularly backfire with Jerome Maher and Darragh Fives out of their depth trying to cope with the mercurial Corbett.
Tipperary continued to mesmerize Waterford with the forwards interchanging, creating space to unnerve the Waterford defenders who had lost their shape, organisation, discipline and belief after Corbett’s breakthrough.
The movement of the Tipperary forwards that created the space prior to delivery of the supply from further back the field was the key to Tipperary’s success. Players like Padraic Maher and Gearoid Ryan displayed tremendous vision and accuracy to capitalise on that movement and supply the ammunition while ‘Bonnar’ Maher unselfishly made an enormous contribution with valuable assists. All three were crucial to the Tipperary goal blitz that devastated Waterford. After Mullane had fluffed his and Waterford’s best and only decent goal chance of the day thirty minutes into the game with Waterford still in the picture just six points behind, Tipperary went on the rampage.
Waterford caved in as the goals mounted up in a devastating five minute spell at the close of the half.
Eoin Kelly picked off his 20th championship goal after Noel McGrath had fielded a Cummins puck out,l aying off to ‘Bonnar’ Maher whose quick hand pass ensured Kelly had more time on the ball to pick his spot to the right of the Waterford keeper.
The third goal again came from solid defensive work from Padraic Maher, who combined with John OKeeffe, cleared the danger near their own posts before Gearoid Ryan sent another excellent delivery into space for Lar Corbett to run onto and the Sarsfields man finished to the net. Another Gearoid Ryan missile from midfield set up the fourth goal. When the Waterford defence failed to deal withRyan’s delivery, ‘Bonnar’ Maher punished Waterford for their hesitancy. Maher had the option of running at the open goal himself or sending in Callanan which he opted to do and the Drom-Inch man finished off the move. Two minutes into injury time Corbett, thanks again to the supply line set up by Geraoid Ryan, completed his first half hat trick and Tipperary’s five goal rout.
In that miserable first half for Waterford they had only managed to score two points from play, one after nineteen minutes from one of the few Waterford players to come out of this debacle with any self respect, Tony Browne, and the other from Shane O’Sullivan who was the first Waterford forward to score from play after twenty six minutes.
Apart from early flourishes from both John Mullane and Brian O’Sullivan in the corners, Waterford offered little by way of threat in front of Brendan Cummins. As the game went on Mullane (who did not get on the scoreboard until the 50th minute) became more and more disillusioned as the supply line into the himself, O’Sullivan and the hard working Shane Walsh totally dried up.
In the second half Tipperary, without every having to play in anything near as competitive a mode they had cruised along at in the first half, added two more goals to pile the misery on Waterford.
Captain Eoin Kelly took his 21st championship goal after fifty two minutes and Lar Corbett added his fourth flashing the ball across the hapless Clinton Hennessy on the Waterford goal after a Conor O’Mahony free caused chaos again in the Waterford defence.
Waterford’s three half time substitutes made little difference in the second half as Tipperary continued on their way.
Of Waterford’s nineteen points, thirteen came from Pauric Mahony, and twelve of those scores came from frees. Mahony, along with Tony Browne, were the two Waterford players to perform on a day when so many things went wrong for them. Brick Walsh’s inexperience at full back was evident from early on and he was sorely missed at centre back for Waterford.
Stephen Molumpy was Waterford’s best player by some distance against Limerick but he was unable to repeat that performance and was outplayed by Shane McGrath from the start.
The Tipperary goal machine now have five weeks to wait to play an All-Ireland semi final while Waterford face into the qualifiers in two weeks time after enduring a most horrific hiding with their confidence at an all time low.
Tipperary - Brendan Cummins, Paddy Stapleton, Paul Curran, Michael Cahill, John O’Keeffe, Conor O’Mahony, Padraic Maher, Gearoid Ryan (0.1), Shane McGrath, Seamus Callanan(1.0), Noel McGrath (0.2), Patrick Maher,Eoin Kelly (2.6), John O’Brien(0.3), Lar Corbett(4.4)
Subs - Benny Dunne for Gearoid Ryan, Pa Bourke (0.2) for Seamus Callanan, Shane Bourke (0.1) for Noel McGrath, Brendan Maher for Padraic Maher
Waterford Clinton Henessy, Darragh Fives, Jerome Maher, Noel Connors, Tony Browne (0.1), Michael Walsh, Kevin Moran, Richie Foley, Stephen Molumphy (0.1), Eoin McGrath, Shane O’Sullivan (0.1), Pauric Mahony(0.13,12 from frees), John Mullane (0.1),Shane Walsh(0.1),Brian O’Sullivan.
James Nagle for Jerome Maher, Maurice Shanahan(0.1) for Eoin McGrath, David O’Sullivan for Richie Foley, Liam Lawlor for Darragh Fives, Eoin Kelly for Brian O’Sullivan.