By Noel Dundon
Tipperary’s u-21 footballers emerged victorious from their Munster championship quarter final tie at Dungarvan on Wednesday evening last to set up a mouthwatering clash with Cork in the semi-final next week.
A very confident and swashbuckling display from the Tipp lads ensured that Waterford played second fiddle, more or less for the entire game, apart from some brief periods when they managed to put together some decent moves.
Tipperary’s link up play was particularly impressive as they managed to string together a whole series of passes and cut Waterford apart time and again. In fact, they could easily have bagged a hat of goals and saw a number of efforts flash over the crossbar as well as blistering the upright with another – star attacker Conor Sweeney being a constant thorn in the Waterford side alongside full forward David Butler who was a key element of the forward division.
Defending champions Tipperary travelled south with high hopes of getting their campaign off to a winning start. And they were greeted at the sea side town by a very strong wind which would have a big influence on the course of the game.
This was the first game played under lights in Fraher Field and the wonderfully enhanced facilities were in fine condition for the encounter with the pitch in a very good state. However, Tipperary always found it difficult to come out of Waterford with a positive result and Manager John Evans had been drilling into the players, the need to take the game to the Deise from the very start. It would take a resolute performance to emerge on top in this one.
A solid start was exactly what the Tipp lads produced. Indeed, they more or less dominated the first half even though they were playing into the teeth of a very strong breeze and were well set up for victory by the time referee Padraig O’Sullivan (Kerry) called time on the half.
Waterford, under the watchful eye of former Tipp star John Owens, found it hard to cope with the wind advantage – two long range balls drifting wide in the opening moments. But, Tipp were playing a much shorter game and Aldo Matassa had them off the mark in the 3rd minute after a pass from David McGrath. Full forward David Butler fired over a second in the 4th minute after a pass from Butler again and eventhough Paul Whyte had Waterford’s first score in the 11th minute from a 45 metre free, Tipp hit back with a goal through Conor Sweeney after a great move through the defence.
Sweeney had another from a free at the end of the first quarter and as Tipp led by five points it looked as though they would be quite comfortable in the game. But, Waterford responded and found their range.
Paul Whyte and Niall Walsh gave them some hope with points and when centre back David Phelan came upfield in the 18th minute and blasted a superb goal, the sides were back on terms in the space of two minutes.
Tipperary were playing too well to allow the scores to upset them and their ability to carve open the defence was very impressive. Conor Sweeney, David McGrath, David Butler and Peter Acheson all had scores and wing forward Billy Hewitt tested the strength of the upright with a blistering shot in the 22nd minute.
Tipp’s interval lead then was 1-7 to 1-3. If they continued their form, they would emerge in some comfort. They did and although the first half was probably more impressive in terms of their play, they did more than enough to win the game. Waterford, curiously enough, played better against the breeze than they did with it. They carried the ball more and in doing so carried the fight to Tipp. But, the fact that they kicked 12 wides in the hour didn’t help their cause and they only managed one point in the second half – the last score of the game from corner forward David Grey.
Tipperary continued to be very productive in attack with Conor Sweeney again to the forefront – he kicked two points in the third quarter and a further two in the last quarter with David Butler adding another, as well as sub Paul McEvoy and wing back John O’Callaghan.
David Butler kicked 0-3 from play and has proven a real find. He showed as an ideal target man who distributes the ball very intelligently and his corner men and half forward line worked very well off him.
Tipperary will be well pleased with this win but will also acknowledge that Waterford did not have a good outing on the day.
It was job well done for Tipp for whom Conor Sweeney, David Butler, Peter Acheson, Eddie Kenrick, Jonathan Ryan and Billy Hewitt were in top form. Keeper Jack English was also very solid between the sticks while Aldo Matassa and Donagh Heffernan worked very hard right the way through. For Waterford, Ronan Cahill, David Phelan, Paul Whyte and Niall Walsh were best.
Tipperary: J English (Ballyporeen), M Hanly (Aherlow), J Ryan (Ardfinnan), R Kiely (Arravale Rvs), D Leahy (do) E Kenrick (Cahir), J O’Callaghan 0-2 (Ballyporeen), P Acheson 0-1 (Moyle Rvs), D Heffernan (Cappawhite), B Hewitt (Ardfinnan), T Hanly (Aherlow), A Matassa 0-1 (Commercials), C Sweeney 1-6 (Ballyporeen), D Butler 0-3 (Drom Inch), D McGrath 0-1 (Moyle Rvs). Subs: M O’Dwyer (Arravale Rvs) for T Hanly; G Ryan (Rockwell Rvs) for D Leahy; P McEvoy (Cahir) for Hewitt; L Boland (Moyle Rvs) for Butler; K O’Riordan (Brackens) for P Acheson.
Waterford: K Williams, M Cummins, S Currin, M Wyse, T Walsh, D Phelan 1-0, J Kirwin, R Cahill, N Walsh 0-1, C Buckley, A Brophy, J Coade, D Grey 0-1, T Houlihan, P Whyte 0-2. Subs: K Cooney for J Coade; P Drohan for C Buckley; I Power for P Whyte; J Burke for T Walsh.
Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry).