Electric Ireland Munster Minor Hurling Championship Quarter-Final
Tipperary 2-18 Waterford 1-15
This was far from the routine win which the final scoreline might suggest. Indeed, Tipperary struggled early on and fell four behind (0-5 to 0-9) during a frantic opening eighteen minutes despite playing with the breeze. And, Waterford could well have enjoyed a more significant advantage had DJ Foran’s effort not found a post in the fifth minute.
That said however William Maher’s players responded to the challenge like men. Tipperary won the remainder of this contest 2-13 to 1-6. And, that was no mean feat against a highly-motivated and physically-strong Waterford side who went about their business in a robust manner.
Tipperary found heroes in every line of the field. Austin Tierney impressed at corner-back, Darragh Peters did well to contain the immensely talent Patrick Curran, Barry Heffernan dominated at half-back, Tom Fox and, especially, Willie Connors combined well at midfield and Josh Keane enjoyed a fine outing at full-forward. Thurles’ Conor Lanigan also impressed, most notably in the second half when Tipperary’s need was at its greatest, but all were trumped by the extraordinary display of Colin O’Riordan at centre-forward.
Early in the game Waterford centre-back Austin Gleeson caught a couple of balls over O’Riordan’s head, but once the JK Bracken’s man grew into his role there was no stopping him. O’Riordan scored two points, won five frees and set-up several scores - Tipperary’s performance revolved around O’Riordan’s effectiveness at centre-forward and it must have warmed the heart of goalkeeper Brian Hogan to see the JK Bracken’s man call for puck-outs to be dropped on his head time and time again.
During the opening four minutes Waterford’s Patrick Curran and Tipperary’s Josh Keane traded frees before a smashing left-handed effort from Adam Farrell claimed the lead for the Déise in the fourth minute.
Brian Hogan’s short puck-out to Jason Ryan in the fifth almost ended in disaster for Tipperary when DJ Foran won possession with the goal at his mercy. Thankfully, from a Tipperary point of view at least, Foran’s effort found a post and was cleared out at the expense of a ’65 which Patrick Curran converted.
Willie Connors worked the ball into the hand of Colin O’Riordan in the sixth minute and the JK Bracken’s man left just one between them, but Waterford responded with a Patrick Curran free in the eighth minute - 0-2 to 0-4.
Willie Connors, whose enterprising play caught the eye throughout this contest, intercepted an Austin Gleeson clearance and drove over a great point a minute later while a Josh Keane free levelled matters at 0-4 apiece.
Patrick Curran and Colin O’Riordan then traded efforts before the home side hit Tipperary with four consecutive points to lead 0-9 to 0-5 by the 18th minute - two Patrick Curran frees, an effort from Mark O’Brien and then his midfield partner Tom Devine were responsible for these Waterford scores.
With the Tipperary management team looking a little disgruntled on the sideline the Tipperary players sparked into life and struck 1-5 without reply - with the half-forward line now withdrawn some distance out the field Tipperary restricted the space in which Waterford hoped to operate and came roaring back into this encounter.
Two Josh Keane frees closed the gap to two points before Mark McCarthy threatened a goal in the 22nd minute, but goalkeeper Seán Clancy advanced to smother the opportunity.
Another Keane free edged Tipperary ever closer before Shane Hennessy levelled matters in the 26th minute (0-9 apiece) following superb work from Colin O’Riordan.
Three minutes later Tipperary were threatening once more. Mark McCarthy flicked a Seán Ryan delivery into the hand of Josh Keane and Waterford full-back Sam O’Neill pulled down the Golden-Kilfeacle man for a clear-cut penalty which Keane himself lashed home - 1-9 to 0-9.
Keane, who looked to be relishing the occasion, landed a terrific left-handed effort from distance in the 31st minute and, suddenly, Tipperary led by four.
The Waterford lads retired at the break with the cheers of an enthusiastic home crowd ringing in their ears - right on the stroke of the half-time Michael Kearney cracked a magnificent left-handed shot into Brian Hogan’s top right-hand corner.
Half-time: Tipperary 1-10 Waterford 1-9.
With Waterford now playing with the breeze Tipperary needed to discourage the home side and did so with a Josh Keane free and a classy effort from Conor Lanigan, set up by the Trojan efforts of Colin O’Riordan, forcing the Premier three points clear - 1-12 to 1-9.
Waterford, to their credit, responded in kind with two Patrick Curran frees and a Conor Gleeson point levelling matters (1-12 apiece) by the 42nd minute.
Tipperary landed a huge psychological blow in the 45th minute when Shane Hennessy broke the ball down to Colin O’Riordan who belted a delivery toward Josh Keane. Keane was actually beaten to it by Sam O’Neill, but Keane kept his head, dispossessed O’Neill smartly and smacked home a terrific goal. Seconds later Colin O’Riordan set up Willie Connors for a smashing point and Tipperary had established a vital four-point buffer (2-13 to 1-12) between the sides.
That four-point differential persisted between the sides following scores from Patrick Curran (two), Willie Connors and Josh Keane (free) as time ebbed away, but it is worth noting that a ferocious scramble in the 54th minute demanded that Brian Hogan make a timely intervention to deny Waterford the opportunity to mount a late rally.
A Patrick Curran free closed the gap to three points in the 57th minute, but Colin O’Riordan was always prepared to provide Tipperary with an attacking outlet. Indeed, the JK Bracken’s man set up a point for Josh Keane in the 58th minute and was fouled for a free on the hour mark which Keane worked short to the unmarked and accurate Conor Lanigan.
Two minutes into injury time, with his side trailing 1-15 to 2-17, Waterford substitute Stephen Bennett saw his ambitious 21-yard free ricochet off the Tipperary crossbar while there was still time for Colin O’Riordan to win possession and feed Willie Connors who set Conor Lanigan up for his third point from play.
Tipperary: Brian Hogan (Lorrha-Dorrha), Austin Tierney (Shannon Rovers), Jason Ryan (Toomevara), Darragh Peters (Kilruane MacDonagh’s), Barry Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg), Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Tom Kirwan (Ballybacon-Grange), Tom Fox (Éire Óg Annacarty-Donohill, captain), Willie Connors (Kildangan, 0-3), Seán Ryan (Seán Treacy’s), Colin O’Riordan (JK Bracken’s, 0-2), Shane Hennessy (Nenagh Éire Óg, 0-1), Mark McCarthy (Toomevara), Josh Keane (Golden-Kilfeacle, 2-9, 0-7 frees, 1-0 penalty), Conor Lanigan (Thurles Sarsfields, 0-3). Subs: (45th) Kevin Dunne (Thurles Sarsfields) for Shane Hennessy, (55th) James Mackey (Nenagh Éire Óg), (60th) Fionán O’Sullivan (Skeheenarinky) for Seán Ryan.
Waterford: Seán Clancy, Cian Leamy, Sam O’Neill, William Hahessy, Kevin Daly, Austin Gleeson, Michéal Harney, Mark O’Brien (0-1), Tom Devine (0-1), Shane Bennett, Colm Roche, Adam Farrell (0-1), Patrick Curran (0-11, 0-8 frees, 0-1 ’65), DJ Foran, Michael Kearney (1-0). Subs: (26th) Conor Gleeson (0-1) for Mark O’Brien, (48th) Cormac Curran for Kevin Daly, (49th) Stephen Bennett for Adam Farrell, (53rd) MJ Sutton for Shane Bennett.
Referee: Jer O’Connell (Cork).