Friday, 17th August 2018
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Bad decision ruins perfect day

The Waterdord Senior and Minor hurling teams travelled to Ennis Road in Limerick last weekend for their second round game in the round robin Munster Hurling Championship. In both cases the teams from the South East were very much rank outsiders following defeates to Clare in their opening round. Indeed many viewpopints suggested that the minor from the Premier county were already favourites to go "all the way" while the seniors, who have not delivered thus far in the competition, had shown glimpses of form in the second half of their outing against Cork. All of which suggested that the odds of six to one on each of the teams would be money "down the drain". How wrong it all turned out.

Derek McGrath and his senior hurling charges had been dealt a huge blow in the past week with an injury crisis which saw up to six players doubtful for this contest against Tipperary. It had been the topic of conversation throughout the week with many feeling that, following a magnificent comeback against Cork, opponents Tipperary had hit form.

Let me say at the outset, without so many firstchoice players, this was a huge, perhaps one of the biggest challenges for Derek, Dan and Eoin.

Tipperary began with a point from a Jason Forde free but Waterford hit back with Tom Devine and Jamie Barron landing a brace. Forde had another point for the Premier but Waterford through Devine and Padraig Mahony were 0-4 to 0-2 ahead after five minutes. Indeed Austin Gleeson and Paudie Mahony carried injuries into this game which at one time looked as though they would not be available. Paudie Mahony worked hard to create and execute a point in the 7th minute.

The opening goal came a minute later as a long delivery into the Tipperary goalmouth caused consternation and Tom Devine, who was a real handful, crashed the ball past Brian Hogan in the Tipperary goal. Jamie Barron folloed with a point 1-6 to 0-3. The script was being torn up.

Billy McCarthy had a point for the Premier but points from Mahony after a foul on Stephen Bennett and one from DJ Foran had Waterford ahead 1-8 to 0-4. Ronan Maher added a Tipperary point as Jason Forde was wide with a free. A magnificent save by Ballygunner keeper Stephen O’Keeffe from John McGrath saw a point added for the Premier. Patrick Curran added a Waterford point to maintain the six point lead 1-9 to 0-6. Tipperary had a terrific seven minute spell where they landed five unanswered points with three from Jason Forde and one apiece from John and Noel McGrath. A point down the game may well be swinging towards the favourites. Waterford had other ideas. A short free from Austin Gleeson to goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe some forty metres from his goal saw the ball land on top of the Tipperary backline and when the sliotar was half cleared by Brian Hogan, Paudie Mahony collected and despatched to the net 2-9 to 0-11. This score rocked the Tipperary foundations.

Corner back Mickey Cahill was booked for a foul on Patrick Curran and Paudie Mahony converted. The Ballygunner sharpsgooter was again on target a minute later with a point 2-11 to 0-11. In the remaining minutes of the half a point apiece from Jason Forde and DJ Foran saw Waterford retire to the break with a six point 2-12 to 0-12 lead. Just as the players walked towards the dressing room referee Alan Kelly yellow carded Mickey Cahill for a foul on DJ Foran and the Premier were down to fourteen for the second half. Waterford followers, who were certainly in the minority of the 10237 patrons, were a happy lot going to the break. Derek and his management had the tactics "spot on". Four Waterford points on the changeover from Paudie Mahony (2) and Stephen Bennett and Patrick Curran saw them race ahead 2-16 to 0-12. Jason Forde and Jamie Barron exchanged points. The Waterford score after good work from Conor Gleeson. Forde added a Tipperary point. There was barely a ripple of applause. The fans were literally shell shocked. Tommy Ryan replaced Mikey Kearney in the Waterford attack and the Tallow clubman had a free with his first touch as Brendan maher received a booking. Paudie Mahony converted and two minutes later DJ Foran added another 2-19 to 0-14.

Michael Walsh who was playing a masterful game as sweeper was booked for a tackle on Jason Forde but the ball was cleared. Despite what others might say there was a near feeling of panic in the Tipperary camp. Jason Forde landed a free but Stephen Roche did likewise for Waterford 2-20 to 0-15 and just sixteen minutes on the clock. Brian O’Halloran replaced Patrick Curran in the attack. Cathal Barratt and Jason Forde had Tipperary points and nine points between the sides with thirteen minutes remaining. In the 58th minute a slip in the Deise defence saw Jason Forde collect and send "Bonner" Maher through where the big attacker crashed past Stephen O’Keeffe 2-20 to 1-17. Points followed from Forde and Seamus Callanan and the lead was back to four points 2-20 to 1-19.

Then came the defining moment. A long distance free from Jason Forde was collected at the second attempt by Austin Gleeson and carried to safety. However after consulktations with his umpires the referee allowed a goal to stand. I couldn’t confidently adjudicate but, the Waterford centre back never appeared to cross the line, as television pictures later confirmed, but one umpire seemed to think so and the game was back on a knife edge 2-20 to 2-19. Shane McNulty, Colin Dunford and Jake Dillon all came into the Waterford team as the management looked to freshen up the side for the remaining minutes.

Paudie Mahony and Jason Forde exchange points 2-21 to 2-20. Jake Dillon and Ronan Maher add a point apiece and Waterford still have their noses in front 2-22 to 2-21. The final score of this pulsaying contest sees Jason Forde slot over and the sides are tied as referee Alan Kelly calls time on a very controversial tie. A goal which should never have been and some extraordinary points saw Tipperary eek out a draw but every Waterford player can stand high after a brilliant display and roll on Limerick next wewekend back in Parc Na nGael. As for my man of the match, Tom Devine for the sheer persistance, the goal and the way he tormented the Tipperary backline especially in the opening forty five minutes.

Before the game many would have settled for a draw but the confidence that Waterford showed would seem to suggest that they will be bitterly disappointed and the goal, oh that goal that never was.

Minor Grab Win

The opening contest in the Gaelic Grounds saw manager Gary Morahan and his young squad open proceedings on a superb day for hurling. However it was Tipperary who dominated the opening five minutes with James Devaney contributing a brace of points. Ardmore’s Ciaran Keating had a point for Waterford in the 6th minute but again two more frees srom Devaney saw Tipp ahead 0-4 to 0-1 as the clock passed ten minutes. A Waterford free from goalkeeper Dean Beecher landed on the mark but the Premier landed a goal and two points in the following ten minutes. The goal from wing forward Sean Hayes. Paddy Leevy added a Waterford just before the break to leave the score at half time 1-6 to 0-3. The Waterford attack was suffering from missed chances as they created but failed to point opportunities.

The Premier extended their lead in the opening minutes of the second half with a goal from Devon Ryan although Waterford hit back with a brace of points from Michael Kiely the citadel fell in on Waterford as Tipperary added a third goal from Sean Hayes in the 40th minute 3-8 to 0-5. The pundits must have got this one right. Despite playing with a huge amount of determination the breaks just were not forthcoming for Waterford. However three points in as many minutes from Caolan MacCraith, Ciaran Keating and Michael Kiely edged them a little closer and maybe just maybe there was a chink of light. Tipperary added a point through James Devaney 3-9 to 0-8. As the clock passed the fifty minute mark Waterford had added another brace of points from Michael Kiely and David Byrne. The Deise were now beginning to dominate all over the field. A point from Christopher Kavanagh and the Tipperary lead although still 3-9 to 0-11 was being clawed away. Oh for a goal!.

Ryan Tierney delivered a superb pass to Michael kiely and the Abbeyside man did the rest as he rattled the net 3-9 to 1-11. There was a real "pep in the step" of the Waterford players and the crowd, although small, got behind the White and Blue. The clock passes the sixty minute mark and Kiely, who finished with 2-5, landed another goal 3-9 to 2-11. This is sensational from Waterford. The followers were witnessing one of the great comebacks from an under age Waterford team. Michael kiely landed the leveller from a free deep in injury time. Tipperary were shell shocked and when Gavin Fives burst through in the dying seconds the Cappoquin lad finished with aplomb. Waterford 2-13 to 3-9 for Tipperary. This was a wonderful start to the day and the crowd ahowed their appreciation with a standing ovation for Waterford at the end.

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