Moran leads Deise back to Croke Park

Waterford's Maurice Shanahan tussles with Wexford's Jack O'Connor.

Waterford's Maurice Shanahan tussles with Wexford's Jack O'Connor.

By Brian Flannery
This weekend saw the dawning of a new era on Leeside with the re-opening of the newly developed Páirc Ui Chaoimh.
On Saturday last it was reigning champions Tipperary, pushing past the challenge of Clare while on Sunday, Waterford were too good for neighbours Wexford to qualify for the senior All-Ireland Hurling Semi-Finals for the third successive year.
Waterford never trailed at any stage in this game and in truth never looked like losing either. A goal just before half-time from captain Kevin Moran sent Derek McGrath’s charges to the dressing rooms leading by five points.
A bright spell early in the second half saw Wexford reduce the margin to just two points but Waterford responded superbly and had increased their advantage to eight points by end of the scheduled 70 minutes play.
But a pointed free from Jack Guiney and a goal from Jack O’Connor deep in injury-time put a better look on the scoreboard without Wexford ever threatening the result.
However despite this convincing victory much of the post-game discussion centred on the 65th minute dismissal of Tadhg De Búrca by referee Fergal Horgan for an apparent facemask infringement by the Clashmore/Kinsalbeg man. Tipperary referee Fergal Horgan was alerted to the incident by his linesman Sean Cleere.
De Búrca, at the time of writing, seems certain to miss the All-Ireland Semi-Final with the ensuing automatic one match ban for a straight red card offense.
As anticipated both sides set-up similarly with Tadhg De Búrca and Shaun Murphy operating in sweeping roles for their respective sides. This lead to a cagey, tactical game with both De Búrca and Murphy calmly dealing with a lot of aimless deliveries into their defensive zone.
Waterford began the game with the same starting 15 as from their previous round victory over Kilkenny while Wexford showed four changes to the side that started the Leinster Final against Galway. Eoin Moore, Podge Doran, David Redmond and leaving cert student Rory O’Connor all selected from the start here.
Waterford began well with former All-Star Michael Walsh dominating the opening exchanges. The Stradbally was involved in four out of five of Waterford’s opening points, being fouled for two, providing an assist for Kevin Moran and shooting a sublime point over the shoulder from the shadows underneath the North Stand. Waterford led 0-5 to 0-2 after seven minutes.
Goal chances were a rarity although Jamie Barron had a half-chance after 10 minutes but his weak effort was comfortably dealt with by Wexford custodian Mark Fanning.
Wexford deployed Podge Doran and Jack Guiney in front of goal to provide at ‘twin-tower’ threat but Shane Fives, Barry Coughlan, Tadhg de Búrca and Noel Connors dealt ably with this challenge.
Scores were coming just a little easier for the Déise with Kevin Moran pilfering two points from snap shots while Austin Gleeson, as is his want, produced another outstanding moment when he bisected the posts after a low catch and shooting without the necessity to view the whereabouts of the uprights at the City end of the New stadium.
Aidan Nolan and Jack Guiney importantly hit a point apiece as the clock into first half injury time and the Yellow Bellies would have been pleased enough to take a two point deficit (0-12 to 0-10) to the break.
However, an error from Eoin Moore in failing to clear his lines allowed Shane Bennett, so often a forlorn and solitary presence in the full-forward line, dispossessed the Wexford defender and sent Kevin Moran through on goal.
The De La Salle clubman and team Captain showed immense composure to whip the ball past the advancing Mark Fanning into the net and put some distance between the sides, 1-12 to 0-10 at the half-time break.
Given the nature of this game with the scarcity of scoring opportunities a five-point advantage appeared pivotal, and so it proved.
Wexford were quickest out of the blocks after half-time and hit three quick points from Liam Ryan, Rory O’Connor and Lee Chin to bring the margin back to two points (1-12 to 0-13) after 42 minutes. Pauric Mahony converted two and Austin Gleeson another free from inside his own half to extend the lead back out to five points with 20 minutes remaining.
Substitutes Maurice Shanahan and Brian O’Halloran both impacted and scored two points apiece as Waterford now led by eight points (1-23 to 0-18) at the end of normal time despite De Búrca’s departure after 65 minutes.
A Jack Guiney pointed free and a goal from Jack O’Connor ensured that Wexford beat the spread bet but it is Waterford who progress to another Championship Semi-Final at headquarters.
Waterford had outstanding displays from skipper Kevin Moran with veteran Michael Walsh again giving a towering display.
A rock solid defence were rarely troubled while substitutes Maurice Shanahan and Brian O’Halloran both made valuable contributions when introduced.
Wexford have made considerable progress this season with Shaun Murphy, Liam Ryan, Diarmuid O’Keeffe and Lee Chin to the fore in this game.

Waterford: Stephen O’Keeffe; Shane Fives, Barry Coughlan, Noel Connors; Darragh Fives, Tadhg De Búrca, Philip Mahony; Conor Gleeson, Jamie Barron; Kevin Moran, Michael Walsh, Austin Gleeson; Pauric Mahony, Jake Dillon, Shane Bennett.

Substitutes: Maurice Shanahan for Shane Bennett (45mins), Stephen Bennett for Michael Walsh (53), Colin Dunford for Jamie Barron (61) and Tommy Ryan for Pauric Mahony (70).

Scorers: Pauric Mahony (0-9f), Kevin Moran (1-3), Austin Gleeson (0-2; 0-1f), Maurice Shanahan
and Brian O’Halloran (0-1 each), Michael Walsh, Jake Dillon, Darragh Fives and Conor Gleeson (0-1 each).

Wexford: Mark Fanning; Willie Devereux, Liam Ryan, James Breen; Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Matthew O’Hanlon, Eoin Moore; Shaun Murphy, Lee Chin; David Redmond, Conor McDonald, Rory O’Connor; Paul Morris, Podge Doran, Jack Guiney.

Substitutes: Aidan Nolan for David Redmond (28 mins), Jack O’Connor for Paul Morris (40s), Harry Kehoe for Conor McDonald (58) and Shane Tomkins for Podge Doran (63).

Scorers: Jack Guiney (0-6; 0-5f), Jack O’Connor (1-2), Lee Chin (0-3; 0-2f), Diarmuid O’Keeffe (0-2), Liam Ryan, Eoin Moore, Conor McDonald, Paul Morris, Rory O’Connor and Aidan Nolan (0-1 each).

Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).

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