If Tipperary faced an uphill battle to gain promotion from Division Four following last Sunday’s opening day home defeat to Carlow at Semple Stadium, they now have a mountain to climb to get out of Gaelic football’s bottom rung.
A second defeat in six days, this time at the hands of Waterford in Fraher Field, Dungarvan, on Saturday night last, means Tipperary are still pointless and with difficult games to come against Clare, Limerick, Offaly, Leitrim and London, promotion prospects are not looking at all promising at this early stage of the season.
While the Premier County had genuine reasons for feeling hard done by against Carlow when surrendering a six points lead and losing to the 14-men Barrowsiders by just a single point, they can have few complaints with Saturday’s result. Waterford fully deserved their victory if for no other reason than they took their chances and their luck better and defended stubbornly when Tipperary had their moments of superiority over the 70 minutes.
Waterford started brighter and a Paul Whyte penalty put them 1-1 to 0-0 score ahead after just five minutes. At the break they led 1-4 to 0-6.
Tipperary levelled for the only time early in the second period but the game’s only period of parity lasted all of a minute. The crucial and match-changing score followed immediately. A speculative punt from full-forward Robert Aherne from 40 metres out on the sideline hopped high and deceived an advancing Tipperary keeper to end up in the back of the net. Bad enough the softish nature of the score, but it’s impact was more crucial, it re-ignited the waning belief of the Waterford lads and seemingly had the exact opposite effect on the visitors.
By the full time whistle the home side had stretched their margin out to a deserving five points.
Needless to say Tipp will be deflated after this latest setback and will have to get their heads right for their next fixture, a home game against London in Thurles on Sunday, 3rd March.
On the night Tipp’s best were Ciaran McDonald and Peter Acheson with Michael Quinlivan and Brian Fox shining in patches.
Waterford had good displays from all their backs, especially Maurice O’Gorman and Tony Grey doing well. The big men in the centre of the field Shane Aherne and Tommy Prendergast shaded it while the full-forward line of Darren Guiry, Robert Aherne and Paul Whyte looked dangerous throughout.
Waterford: Stephen Enright, Conor Phelan, Stephen Prendergast, John Hurney, Maurice O’Gorman, Shane Briggs (C), Tony Grey (0-1), Shane Aherne, Tommy Prendergast, Patrick Hurney (0-1), Conor McGrath, Liam O Lonain (0-1), Darren Guiry, Robert Aherne (1-1, 0-1F), Paul Whyte (1-4, pen and 0-4F).
Subs: Gavin Nugent for Conor McGrath (30 mins); Sean O’Hare for Tommy Prendergast (64 mins); Joey Veale for Patrick Hurney (66 mins); Sean Dempsey for Darren Guiry (69 mins).
Tipperary: Paul Fitzgerald (Fethard), John Coghlan (Moyne/T), Paddy Codd (C) (Killenaule), Andrew Morrissey (Galtee Rovers), Alan Campbell (Moyle Rovers), Ciaran McDonald (Aherlow), Brian Fox (Eire Og Annacarty) (0-1), George Hannigan (Shannon Rovers) (0-1), Hugh Coghlan (Portlaoise), Peter Acheson (Moyle Rovers) (0-1), Liam McGrath (Loughmore/C), Donagh Leahy (Arravale Rovers), Alan Moloney (Rockwell Rovers), Barry Grogan (Aherlow) (0-4F), Michael Quinlivan (Clonmel Commercials) (0-1).
Subs: Brian Jones (Arravale Rovers) for Hugh Coghlan (22 mins); Conor Sweeney (Ballyporeen) (0-1) for Alan Moloney (H-T); Robbie Kiely (Arravale Rovers) for Andrew Morrissey (41 mins); Bernard O’Brien (Aherlow) for Donagh Leahy (51 mins); Aldo Matassa (Clonmel Commercials) for Liam McGrath (51) mins.