By Peter Nolan
Waterford upended the form charts and Tipperary both in an impressive and determined Senior Hurling performance on Sunday.
With their backs firmly against the wall and their season all but on the line, Waterford responded with passion and skill. Roy Henley tapped over a free to put Waterford up early and it was a good omen for the Deices. Waterford’s lone New York county man pointed five first-half frees on his way to an impressive personal best of 2-9.
Henley spearheaded Waterford’s attack, but Tipperary’s lethargic performance had the small Gaelic Park crowd scratching their heads. Table toppers Tipperary managed only 0-5 in the opening half and trailed 0-9 to 0-5 at the break.
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Tipp tried to turn the tide in the second half, getting points from Robbie Ryan and Kevin Kennedy to start the half. But Henley quickly responded, finishing sweetly to the twines from Tomas Maher’s long pass. Maher and Henley connected again, this time for a point and Henley extended the Waterford lead to 1-11 to 0-7 with another free.
Tipperary were in danger of falling completely out of the match when Kevin Kennedy revived their hope with a beautiful bit of skill. Sean Shepard launched a long ball that Kennedy controlled on his hurl before striking to the net.
Then almost immediately Waterford cancelled Kennedy’s artistry with a fine goal of their own. Aiden Sweeney found himself surrounded by Tipperary defenders but he made room to kick a great football-style goal. The scores came fast and furious the rest of the way as Tipperary raised their game and Waterford responded.
Henley added his second goal and Shepard scored two goals, one from a free and one from a penalty as Tipperary closed to within 0-4, 3-14 to 3-10.
Then Waterford wing forward Ray Duggan, who had a strong match despite wearing a cast on his arm, settled the issue with a last minute goal, sealing a big victory for Waterford.
Man of the Match: Roy Henley.
Victor Cusak, Ronan O’Connor, Conor O’Connor, Tomas Maher, Barry McGee, Colm Ruth, Jamie Duggan (0-1), Rory Hussey, Ray Duggan (1-2), Aiden Sweeney (1-1), Cian O’Connor, Roy Henley (2-9, 7 frees), Tom Doyle (0-1)
Tim Cullen, Tomas Keane, Jim Lyons, Sean Quirke, Sean Shepard (2-0), Sean Treacy, Tom Walsh, Robbie Ryan (0-1), Mike Kennedy, Pat Walsh, Kevin Kennedy (1-8, 3 frees), Garreth Gee (0-1), Sub Owen Cummins