Strong finish gives Tipp the edge in keenly-contested tussle

Senior Hurling tournament

Senior Hurling tournament

Tipperary 2-21 Waterford 1-21

Report - Eamonn Wynne

Photos - John Kelly

Tipperary and Waterford warmed up for their forthcoming assignments in the Munster Senior Hurling Championship with a lively challenge played at Davin Park, Carrick-on-Suir on Friday evening, staged as part of the town’s festival to commemorate one of its most famous sons, Maurice Davin, the GAA’s first president and co-founder.

Tipp, who meet Limerick in the provincial semi-final two weeks from Sunday (June 9) won it by a goal, although Waterford won’t be too displeased with their performance as they prepare for a quarter-final against Clare on Sunday week, June 2. They introduced Tony Browne, who will be 40 in July, for the last 20 minutes and Tipp sealed the win with late points from Johnny Ryan, Noel McGrath and Brian O’Meara after the sides had been level for the seventh and final time (2-18 to 1-21) with five minutes remaining.

A fine attendance of over 2,000 turned up for a game that in many ways was very typical of a tournament. It was high scoring and each team availed of the opportunity to have a good look at their panels - Tipp introduced eight substitutes, with Waterford using just one fewer.

A fine goal from Pa Bourke in the 25th minute was the standout item of the opening half. That score arrived when Shane McGrath’s delivery broke in the danger zone and Bourke supplied the finish with a crisp ground shot.

Yet despite the goal Waterford still led at the break, 0-13 to 1-9. As the weather deteriorated, with a thundery shower falling just before the interval on an otherwise fine evening, Waterford’s display improved. Conor O’Brien added a point to Pa Bourke’s goal but a string of points from Pauric Mahoney and Ray Barry, who scored two apiece, had Waterford level before two further scores from Seamus Prendergast (answered by a similar effort from Shane McGrath) gave the Decies the edge at the interval.

Tipp - who were on a training camp in Clonea last week - made wholesale changes at half time, bringing on six players, some of whom played key roles in securing the victory. Brendan Maher scored two points and maintained the rich vein of form he displayed during the National League. Shane McGrath, the player he replaced, was also influential and his performance was a marked improvement on the League final against Kilkenny.

Seamus Callanan also scored a brace of points, although he missed a few other chances. He was introduced in place of a sprightly Eoin Kelly, who contributed three first half points.

Noel McGrath, who appeared midway through the second half, scored an important late point while Shane Bourke, who was also introduced in the second period, showed his predatory instincts by burying a fine goal from Pa Bourke’s pass. The goal levelled the scores with just over 10 minutes remaining. At one stage in the second half Waterford were ahead by four points, thanks to a goal from Seamus Prendergast.

Elsewhere in the Tipp lineout Michael Cahill, John O’Keeffe and Donagh Maher formed a solid full back line, with Cahill making way for Paul Curran at half time. Conor O’Mahony also impressed in the first half before being replaced by James Barry.

The rotation of the goalkeepers continued, with Darren Gleeson and Brendan Cummins playing a half each. Gleeson was called upon to advance smartly to deny Pauric Mahoney in the 9th minute while Cummins had no chance with Seamus Prendergast’s goal.

Another standout performer was Drom/Inch’s Johnny Ryan, who scored 3 points from play from the wing-forward position, while Brian O’Meara and John O’Brien won some good possession and scored 2 points each.

Waterford, meanwhile, will be encouraged by the display of Darragh Fives, who for long spells ran the show at midfield, while Seamus Prendergast was very prominent at centre forward. Pauric Mahoney and Ray Barry also controibuted handsomely in attack while Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh was another to shine.

Tipperary - Darren Gleeson (Portroe), John O’Keeffe (Clonoulty-Rossmore), Donagh Maher (Burgess), Michael Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields), Thomas Stapleton (Templederry Kenyons), Conor O’Mahony (Newport), Conor O’Brien (Eire Og Annacarty 0-1), Shane McGrath (Ballinahinch, captain, 0-2), James Woodlock (Drom/Inch), Pa Bourke (Thurles Sarsfields 1-3 including 0-1 ‘65), John O’Brien (Toomevara 0-2), Johnny Ryan (Drom/Inch 0-3), Brian O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonaghs 0-2), Eoin Kelly (Mullinahone 0-3) and Mikey Heffernan (Nenagh Eire Og).

Substitutes - Seamus Callanan (Drom Inch 0-2) for Eoin Kelly (half time), Brendan Maher (Borris-Ileigh 0-2) for Shane McGrath (half time), James Barry (Upperchurch/Drombane) for Conor O’Mahony (half time), Paul Curran (Mullinahone) for Michael Cahill (half time), Kieran Bergin (Killenaule) for Conor O’Brien (half time), Brendan Cummins (Ballybacon/Grange) for Darren Gleeson (half time), Shane Bourke (JK Brackens 1-0) for James Woodlock (48 minutes) and Noel McGrath (Loughmore/Castleiney 0-1) for Mikey Heffernan (49 minutes).

Waterford - Ian O’Regan, Noel Connors, Liam Lawlor, Shane Fives, Jamie Nagle, Michael Walsh, Kevin Moran (captain), Shane O’Sullivan, Darragh Fives (0-3), Maurice Shanahan (0-4 including 3 frees), Seamus Prendergast (1-3), Ray Barry (0-4), Jake Dillon (0-1), Pauric Mahoney (0-5 including 2 frees) and Jamie Barron (0-1).

Substitutes - Barry Coughlan for Noel Connors (half time), Stephen O’Keeffe for Ian O’Regan (half time), Eddie Barrett for Darragh Fives (44 minutes), Martin O’Neill for Jake Dillon (48 minutes), Tony Browne for Michael Walsh (51 minutes), Mark Wyse for Shane Fives (51 minutes) and Killian Fitzgerald for Maurice Shanahan (54 minutes).

Referee - James Owens (Wexford).