All-Ireland Senior Football
Qualifier Round Two
Tipperary 1-13 Wexford 0-15
What a performance by Tipperary! Surely one of their best for years and it was fittingly rewarded with a single point win over Wexford in the second round of the All-Ireland senior football qualifiers at Semple Stadium on Saturday.
An unlikely outcome in the eyes of the experts, after Wexford’s stirring showing against All-Ireland champions, Dublin in the Leinster championship, but Tipperary’s rising stock under interim manager, Peter Creedon, continues to soar, and this was a display which featured enormous courage, a high level of ability and an inspiring work ethic.
Wexford hammered Tipperary in the National Football League en route to promotion but there was no comparison between this Tipperary side and that which eventually suffered relegation.
There was a passion and purpose about their play that thrilled the home following but most of all there was a self-belief there which carried them through some sticky patches, none more so than in the agonising closing minutes as Wexford gave their all to salvage their season.
It was apparent from the start that Tipperary were in the right frame of mind for a testing contest. And they maintained that intensity right through the game, their harassment of Wexford when the Leinster men had possession reflecting the determination of the side to give no quarter.
Indeed, Tipperary ought not to have had to endure such anxiety at the close but three gilt-edged goal chances went astray, though it has to be acknowledged that Wexford too had unfruitful goal chances, the timber twice coming to the rescue of the home county, and Paul Fitzgerald denying Paul Morris a likely goal in the 9th minute.
It was stirring stuff right from the start. After only 20 seconds, Philip Austin, a constant thorn in Wexford’s side, received from Peter Acheson, but Wexford goalie Anthony Masterson was equal to the challenge, Austin and Alan Campbell had Tipp points to Shane Roche’s effort for Wexford, but then Tipp twice got off the hook, Paul Fitzgerald saving from Eric Bradley in the 9th minute, followed a minute later by a Ciaran Lyng shot which hit the woodwork.
Points from Michael Quinlivan and Peter Acheson to Redmond Barry’s response for Wexford had Tipperary ahead 0-4 to 0-2 after 13 minutes when Tipperary got what was to be the decisive break of the game. Donagh Leahy looked to have no options when grounded near the Wexford goal but he somehow managed to direct a shot in off the Wexford keeper for what was to be a match-winning goal.
Tipp were flying. Quinlivan pointed and Richie Ryan almost had a second goal but for Masterson’s heroics in the Wexford goal. If Wexford thought they had an easy mark coming to Thurles, they knew the reality by now, and though Michael Quinlivan again pointed to give Tipp a 1-6 to 0-2 lead after 24 minutes, the remainder of the half belonged to Wexford. They shot four unanswered points in the closing minutes of the half to trail 0-6 to 1-6 at the break, an interval Tipp manager Peter Creedon was relieved to reach to raise the siege.
The resumption saw Tipperary once more in control. Anthony Maloney, who had come on during the first half, pointed a free and Philip Austin should have had a goal but blazed over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Donagh Leahy sent wide from a decent chance and as Wexford upped their game, outscoring Tipperary five points to one over the next twelve minutes, to draw level, one wondered would Tipp rue the chances spurned.
Tipp showed their mettle. Brian Fox surged upfield for an inspiring point, and after Redmond Barry’s free for Wexford came off the woodwork, Tipperary broke for Alan Maloney to put them two clear.
P J Banville(2) swapped points with Tipperary’s Hugh Coghlan and Brian Fox as time now became a factor in Tipperary’s favour.
With a minute to go, Banville cut the deficit to the minimum for Wexford and the sight of Michael Quinlivan, one of Tipperary’s heroes on the day, retiring injured, added to the Tipperary tension.
But this was a day in which heroics were rewarded and with the players showing outstanding composure in the manner in which they retained possession and ran down the clock, the victory they so richly deserved came their way.
The euphoria among the Tipp players , backroom team, and football fraternity, said it all afterwards. It was a moment they will savour for some time, though a third round contest awaits them this week-end, but such was the delight in the camp that a joust with All-Ireland champions Dublin, would not have fased them on Saturday evening.
However, similar application, and better finishing will be required to carry the campaign a stage further, and while this was a win to be savoured, and a performance to build on, it must not be a once-off. In the eyes of Tipp folk, all were heroes but the contributions of Peter Acheson, Michael Quinlivan, Brian Fox, Ciaran McDonald, and Philip Austin were worthy of special mention
With their expectations so high coming to Thurles, Wexford were devastated by this defeat, which brought their season to an inglorious end. Perhaps they underestimated the quality of the Tipp challenge following their league win, but it is a setback they will take time to come to terms with. No fault however to such as Daithi Waters, Shane Roche, P J Banville, Ciaran Lyng, Adrian Flynn or Brian Malone, all of whoms trove mightily for the cause.
Tipperary – Paul Fitzgerald; Andrew Morrissey, Paddy Codd, Ciaran McDonald; Brian Fox(0-2), Robbie Kiely, Alan Campbell(0-1); George Hannigan, Hugh Coghlan(0-1); Richie Ryan, Brian Mulvihill, Donagh Leahy(1-0); Michael Quinlivan(0-4), Peter Acheson(0-2), Philip Austin (0-1); Subs- Alan Maloney(0-2) for Mulvihill; Shane Scully for Ryan; Mulvihill for Austin; Atto Matasso for Scully; Lorcan Egan for Quinlivan;
Wexford – Anthony Masterson; Rob Tierney, Greame Molloy, Brian Malone; Adrian Flynn, David Murphy, Lee Chin; Daithi Waters, Colm Morris; Shane Roche(0-5), Andrias Doyle Conor Carthy; P J Banville(0-3), Ciaran Lyng(0-2), Redmond Barry (0-4); Sobs – Paddy Byrne for Carthy; Ben Brosnan(0-1) for Morris; N Murphy for Doyle; Eric Bradley for Roche;
Ref- Michael Duffy,Sligo.