McGrath Cup Senior Football semi-final
(After extra-time; Tipperary 0-10 Waterford 1-7 after 70 minutes).
TIPPERARY senior footballers have the chance to win the McGrath Cup for the first time since 2003 when they face Kerry in the final next Saturday.
The mighty Kingdom will travel to a Premier County venue (to be confirmed at the time of going to press) after the game was brought forward by 24 hours.
The fixture was originally due to go ahead next Sunday but Tipp agreed to Kerry’s request to switch.
Kingdom team manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice is lining out in an All-Ireland intermediate semi-final for his club Finuge against Monasterevin next Sunday.
And Tipp’s agreement to play the McGrath Cup final on Saturday instead now means that Fitzmaurice can fulfil his intercounty and club commitments over the weekend.
It will be Tipperary’s second successive McGrath Cup final, following on from last year’s defeat to Cork in Clonmel.
But Tipp will approach the Kerry tie with a quiet optimism, having shocked Cork in the quarter-finals.
Last Sunday, Peter Creedon’s men survived a stiff test of their credentials against Waterford at a bitterly cold Sean Treacy Park.
Tipp carried the mantle of favourites into what proved to be a very different type of challenge against the Déise.
A few hundred spectators watched the sides fight out a dour encounter that went to extra-time, before Barry Grogan’s decisive 83rd minute goal finally settled matters.
What pleased Creedon the most was the spirit of the team as Tipp hit back from the concession of goals at crucial times.
With eight minutes of normal time remaining, Paul Whyte scored Waterford’s first goal and that score handed the Déise, managed by former Kildare selector Niall Carew, a 1-6 to 0-7 lead.
But Tipp, with substitute Brian Fox playing a pivotal role, responded and a late fisted point by Fox tied the scores at 0-10 to 1-7 and took the match into extra-time.
Sub Liam O’Lionain looked to have won it for Waterford when he netted a scrappy goal from close range in the final minute of the first period of extra-time.
Tipp were now three points behind, 0-11 to 2-8, but they rallied again and 1-1 in extra-time snatched the win and ensured progress to a second successive McGrath Cup final.
Sub Darren Lowry hit the crossbar after the restart before another sub, Hugh Coghlan, kicked a long-range score to cut the deficit to two points.
Coghlan also played a key role in Grogan’s goal as he won possession on the right touchline before lofting a dangerous ball into the Waterford goalmouth.
Grogan, scorer of 1-6, rose highest to palm the ball into the net and his goal proved to be the final score of the game.
For the remaining seven minutes, Waterford could not break through the massed Tipperary ranks.
And right from the start, scores proved difficult to come by as the sides shared just seven points in the opening half.
At half-time in normal time, Tipp led by 0-4 to 0-3, with Grogan hitting all of the Premier County’s scores.
Tony Grey opened the scoring for wind-assisted Waterford in the fifth minute and a further 13 minutes elapsed before Paul Whyte’s free doubled the Déise advantage.
Grogan notched Tipp’s opening score in the 22nd minute and he would grab three more points before half-time, including two well-taken frees.
The sides were level twice in the early stages of the second half before Grogan (free) and 2011 All-Ireland minor winning captain Liam McGrath raised white flags as Tipp moved 0-7 to 0-5 in front.
Gary Hurney responded with a Waterford free before the former county hurler turned provider for Whyte’s goal.
Fox and Hurney traded points as Waterford tried to cling on for victory but Ciaran McDonald’s wind-assisted effort and a wonderful fisted equaliser from the lively Fox tied the game for the fourth time.
O’Lionain and Fox exchanged points in the first period of extra-time before O’Lionain bagged what looked to be a matchwinning goal.
Tipp were resolute, however, and they held Waterford scoreless in the second period of extra-time, as Coghlan scored a point and created the goal that proved decisive.
Creedon admitted: “It was a dour match, a tough match. We trained hard this week and played DIT on Friday night so I think some of the lads’ legs were heavy today. But we showed a bit of spirit to win it. We weren’t particularly good today but credit to Waterford; they worked very hard in fairness to them. They’re fit, mobile and strong. Winning a game when we were three points down with ten minutes to go by pulling it out of the fire is good for confidence.”
Tipp, of course, are due to play Kerry in the Munster SFC quarter-final on May 26 and an early season joust with the star-studded Kingdom will do the team no harm at all as preparations continue ahead of the start of the National League.
Tipp will need their leaders to stand up and be counted when Kerry roll into town and in this regard, captain Paddy Codd led by example against Waterford.
Up front, the return of Grogan for the 2013 season is a massive fillip for Creedon.
The Aherlow man missed last summer’s championship after deciding to spend the summer in Australia but in two McGrath Cup fixtures this season, Grogan has notched 2-12.
Scorers and teams:
Scorers for Tipperary: B Grogan 1-6 (0-3f), B Fox 0-3, L McGrath, H Coghlan & C McDonald 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford: L O’Lionain & P Whyte (0-1f), 1-1 each, G Hurney 0-4f, S Ahearne (f) & T Grey 0-1 each.
Paul Fitzgerald; Andrew Morrissey, Paddy Codd, John Coughlan; Ciaran McDonald, Seamus Kennedy, John O’Callaghan; George Hannigan, Lorcan Egan; Conor Sweeney, Aldo Matassa, Bill Maher; Liam McGrath, Philip Quirke, Barry Grogan.
Subs: Hugh Coghlan for Matassa (h.t.), Brian Fox for O’Callaghan (h.t.), Brian Jones for Sweeney (53), Steven O’Brien for Quirke (58), Alan Campbell for Kennedy (70+2), Darren Lowry for Maher (78).
S Enright; J McGrath, S Prendergast, C Phelan; T Grey, S Briggs, J Hurney; T Prendergast, S Ahearne; P Whyte, P Hurney, M O’Gorman; D Guiry, G Hurney, G Nugent.
Subs: S O’Hare for Briggs (inj, 23), R Cahill for T Prendergast (inj, 25), L O’Lionain for Cahill (56), A Brophy for J Hurney (68), S Dempsey for O’Hare (77), D Grey for O’Gorman (87).
Referee: E Walsh (Kerry).