football for the first time in 1965,”
one seasoned Deise GAA observer
told me on Sunday as we crossed
the Semple Stadium pitch after Rory
Hickey thankfully brought proceedings
to a close.
“And I can honestly say that that
was the poorest Championship performance
I’ve ever seen from a Waterford
football team in all that time.”
Sunday’s 22-point defeat to Tipperary
in Thurles was a 70-minute, slow
motion car crash from a Waterford
In nine run-outs out of every 10, the
Deise’s small band of committed fans
knows their side is going to encounter
superior opposition, and is therefore
more likely to lose than win or draw.
At the start of each season, we
realise we’ve no realistic chance of
winning the provincial title, let alone
compete for Sam Maguire; let’s face
it, we’ve only won three Munster
Championship matches in 27 years.
But what we’ve come to expect,
and what we’ve seen more often than
not each summer, is, at the very least,
a wholehearted, committed, lungemptying
We didn’t get that at Semple
Stadium and to hear Tipperary fans
guffawing a few rows in front of me
as last Sunday’s match represented
perhaps the most humiliating soundtrack
any player or supporter can bear
As the cursor on my laptop blinked
on Sunday night, I realised I didn’t
have the stomach for a customary
blow by blow account of that afternoon’s
match but here are a few
statistical nuggets to ponder upon.
Playing into the wind, Tipperary
led by six points after 11 minutes.
By half-time, leading by 1-13 to 0-3,
five of the Premier’s six forwards had
In contrast, Waterford managed to
score just three points, two of them,
admittedly, excellent efforts by debutant
Michael O’Halloran, the other
being a JJ Hutchinson free.
No Waterford forward scored from
play on Sunday. All 10 Tipperary
scorers on Sunday managed at least
one point from play, with midfielder
Stephen O’Brien, on his own, outscoring
Waterford with six white flaggers,
all from play.
Merciful that the hosts sent a dozen
scoring efforts wayward, and came
close to scoring two goals to add to
Michael Quinlivan’s 24th minute
conversion (goalkeeper Sean Barron
denying Stephen O’Brien brilliantly
in the 68th minute), Waterford scored
only once from play in the second
A 22-point defeat in a match which
was effectively over as a contest
by the 11th minute reads every bit
as badly as it did for the 1600 or so
paying punters who witnessed it.
As my colleague Tomás McCarthy
pointed out in Sunday’s match programme,
during their McGrath
Cup winning campaign, Waterford
“crammed five competitive wins into
that opening month (their best run of
results since 2010) and averaged 15
points per game before the downturn”.
My goodness, that success seems a
long time ago now – and consider too
the fact that Waterford drew with Tipperary
in Clonmel in a Division Four
clash only 15 months ago.
Deise football fans, at best, travel
only with hope as opposed to any
expectation, and we left Semple
Stadium (where the teams were
meeting for the first time in 21 years)
fearing a draw with a heavyweight
come the qualifiers.
At full-time, the Waterford players
cut a bewildered lot; their manager
and his fellow selectors even more so.
This wasn’t what any of us had
expected against, admittedly, a Tipperary
side certainly capable of giving
Kerry some problems on this ground
in two and a half weeks’ time.
But you’d even have to question
how much Peter Creedon’s side
got out of this outing, and they’ll be
worried by the 49th minute withdrawal
of Colin O’Riordan ahead
of their clash against the All-Ireland
But what now for Waterford?
Why, as Gary Hurney pointed out
on WLRfm on Sunday, have so few
players progressed from minor and
Under-21 grades to the full senior
panel in recent years?
That once promised and subsequently
withdrawn ‘Director of Football’
post still lingers in football chat.
Tipperary, in contrast, admirably
want to land Sam Maguire by 2020.
Where’s the vision in Waterford,
something which couldn’t obviously
be along similarly ambitious lines
as our neighbours, but, nonetheless,
where is it? Who will lead the way?
As for the short term agenda, how
on earth will Tom McGlinchey pick
the lads back up when they reassemble
on Wednesday night?
Will other players now consider a
summer of football in the US as some
McGrath Cup winners had already
opted for prior to Sunday?
And will other players, maybe not
contemplating foreign shores, simply
choose to withdraw from the panel?
By the way, how odd it was to see just
one Stradbally clubman in the combined
senior and junior squads last
Sunday (David Grey, for the record).
And when will Congress delegates
finally grow some ‘liathróidí’ and revolutionise
the Football Championship
format given that the big ball code has
as many realistic contenders for Sam
as the tiered Hurling Championship
has for Liam?
“As regards our performance, I
just can’t put my fi nger on it,” Tom
McGlinchey said in the wake of Sunday’s
“Training had gone very well over
the past two weeks; they’d performed
well in two challenge games and
spirits were up coming into the game
but as soon as the ball was thrown in
today, it was like a different game,
like a different group of players went
out onto the field, I just can’t answer
it. I’m disappointed.”
McGlinchey expanded: “I’m disappointed
for the players. No team
likes to get beaten like that and even
from Tipperary’s perspective in terms
of lining out against Kerry in three
weeks time, they’ll have learned very
little from that.”
Conceding that Tipperary “got the
start that we wanted – there was only
going to be one winner after that,” the
Deise boss faced an inevitable and
wholly legitimate question. Where do
you go from here?
“There’s only one thing you can
do in terms of 2015, and that’s get
back together on Wednesday night
and prepare for the Qualifiers because
that’s the competition we’re in.
“But long term? We don’t know,
but look, it’s been spoken about at
length now for the last couple of
years, perhaps even more so now this
year with the teams that are getting
beaten – the powers that be are going
to have to decide what are we going
to do? Are we going to have a two tier
“Realistically, no team wants to get
beatings like that; you want to play in
a competition that you have a chance
of winning. Waterford are never going
to win an All-Ireland, that’s realistic,
that’s the reality of it. So the powers
that be are going to have to decide: are
they going to allow this to (keep happening)
or are they going to do something
“Having said that, I was very confi
dent going into the game that we
could put up a good show. We could
play these lads again next week and
it could be a different game; we could
have got the start that they got and
been closer to them…but Tipperary
were first to the ball and got their
scores – c’est la vie.”
One hopes Waterford will regroup
and salvage something from a year
which began so brilliantly.
And while the national powers that
be must, sooner than later, address
the future structure of the intercounty
season, the powers that be in
Port Láirge CLG must embark on a
meaningful discussion about what
needs to be done to make our intercounty
football teams more competitive
units. Because no-one wants to go
through a day like last Sunday again.
TIPPERARY: Evan Comerford; Paddy Codd,
Ciaran McDonald, Robbie Kiely; Seamus Kennedy,
Peter Acheson, Alan Campbell; Steven O’Brien,
George Hannigan; Colin O’Riordan, Philip Austin,
Ger Mulhaire; Conor Sweeney, Michael Quinlivan,
SUBSTITUTES: Jason Lonergan for Colin
O’Riordan (41 mins), Barry Grogan for Michael
Quinlivan (44), Liam Casey for Conor Sweeney
and Brian Mulvihill for Brian Fox (both 58),
Andrew Morrissey for Peter Acheson (64) and
Sean Flynn for Ger Mulhaire (66).
SCORERS: Steven O’Brien (0-6), Michael
Quinlivan (1-2), Conor Sweeney (0-4; 0-2f ),
Brian Fox and Philip Austin (0-3 each), George
Hannigan (0-2), Ger Mulhaire, Seamus Kennedy,
Peter Acheson and Jason Lonergan (0-1 each).
WATERFORD: Sean Barron; Dean Crowley,
Thomas O’Gorman, Shane Briggs; Tadhg Ó
hUallacháin, Liam Lawlor, Maurice O’Gorman;
Tommy Prendergast, Michael O’Halloran; Michael
Curry, Patrick Hurney, Paul Whyte; Mark
Ferncombe, JJ Hutchinson, Joey Veale.
SUBSTITUTES: Cillian O’Keeff e for Patrick
Hurney (49 mins), Stephen Prendergast for Mark
Ferncombe (50) and Ray Ó Ceallaigh for Paul
SCORERS: Michael O’Halloran (0-2), JJ
Hutchinson (0-2f ) and Shane Briggs (0-1).
REFEREE: Rory Hickey (Clare)