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Waterford holds back a strong tapping challenge to get the Munster Senior Championship campaign off to a flying start

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National League champions Waterford survived a fierce challenge at Tipperary to kickstart their championship campaign at Munster with a win at a vibrant Walsh Park.

10,982 spectators rode an emotional rollercoaster ride in the city, Waterford only pulled away from the guests in added time with points from Patrick Curran and Dessie Hutchinson and won by four points.

It was a win that showed their strength, with the likes of Austin Gleeson and Jamie Barron coming off the bench to help Waterford come from a four-point deficit at half-time.

Heavy morning rain subsided, leaving a smooth, immaculately groomed surface perfect for a quick spin.

But Waterford’s status as a heavy favorite has not gone down well with locals, with some lamenting rather melodramatically that their last Munster Championship win at the venue dates back to 1974.

It seemed like a symbolic protest, especially when just six minutes went 4-0 to 0-0 at the home side and seemed slow going through the aisles here.

But seconds later everything changed when Waterford captain Conor Prunty risked by sprinting to the breaking ball, only for Jason Forde to dial in a beautiful pass inside to an unmarked Mark Kehoe, the Kilsheelan Kilcash man who properly buried his shot in the net.

Now Waterford suddenly seemed to be starting to question himself. Liam Cahill’s men go without a goal for the next ten minutes, Tipp going back to an unlikely 1-4 to 0-4 lead.

The league champions looked particularly nervous at the back as Tadhg de Burca seemed to have his hands full keeping an eye on hovering centre-forward Noel McGrath.

In many ways only Stephen Bennett’s Frees were now keeping Waterford in touch, the Ballysaggart man coming into half-time with six conversions.

Those results couldn’t hide Waterford’s general unease, however, their nervousness embodied when an exhausted de Burca passed a direct hand to his direct opponent in the 21st minute and McGrath easily scored the second of three first-half points.

Waterford had been lauded for their spectacular 22-goal tally en route to the league title but here they looked eager to fly green flags and Tipp coped with relative ease in a defense led by Ronan Maher on the D.

The visitors were 1-12 to 11-0 at half-time but they would have been clear had Shaun O’Brien not saved from Forde in the 26th minute after a superb Noel McGrath effort.

However, just minutes later, Tipp needed a brilliant save from their own keeper Brian Hogan, who bravely smothered Lorrha man Mikey Kiely’s attempt.

As half-time approached, it was noticeable that Cahill had both Gleeson and Barron on the sidelines to warm up, changes that were clearly imminent for the resumption.

And indeed both men came out for the second half, Waterford now at loggerheads as they prepared to chase tips four points clear.

It would take them a full 120 seconds, with Kiely scoring through a Patrick Curran pass just after Gleeson signaled his arrival with a spectacular point.

Then Dessie Hutchinson sunk a second Waterford goal in the 44th minute, taking Waterford’s quick record to 2-6 in just under ten minutes to completely change the tenor of the game.

Tipp had brought on Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher at half-time and Dan McCormack followed soon after, all the momentum now with the home side.

But a second Kehoe goal for Tipp in the 58th minute provided a titanic finish, with Waterford narrowly finishing in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

Scorers: Waterford – Stephen Bennett 0-10 cleared, D Hutchinson 1-3, P Curran 0-4, M Kiely 1-0, S McNulty, J Barron and A Gleeson (0-2 each), J Prendergast 0-1.

Tipperary – N McGrath 0-6 (0-2 clear), M Kehoe 2-0, J Forde 0-4 clear, M Breen, D McCormack and J Morris 0-2 each), B Heffernan, C Stakelum and C Bowe 0-1 each Brian Hogan 0-1 free.

WATERFORD: O’Brien S, Gleeson C, Prunty C, McNulty S, Fagan J, de Burca T, Daly C, Lyons D, Lyons C, Montgomery N, Prendergast J, Curran P , D Hutchinson, Stephen Bennett, M ​​Kiely. Subs – A Gleeson for Montgomery (half) and J Barron for Daly (half), Shane Bennett for Kiely (62 mins), I Daly for Fagan (63 mins), P Hogan for D Lyons (67 mins).

TIPPERARY: Brian Hogan, C Barrett, J Quigley, C Morgan, D Quirke, R Maher, S Kennedy, A Flynn, B Heffernan, C Bowe, N McGrath, M Breen, J Forde, M. Kehoe, J. Morris. Subs – P Maher for Bowe (halftime), D McCormack for Flynn (45 mins), C Stakelum for Heffernan (52 mins), G Browne for Forde (62 mins), J McGrath for Breen (66 mins)

Referee – J Murphy (Limerick).

https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/hurling/waterford-hold-off-strong-tipp-challenge-to-get-munster-senior-championship-campaign-off-to-winning-start-41561635.html Waterford holds back a strong tapping challenge to get the Munster Senior Championship campaign off to a flying start

Fry Electronics Team

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