On Sunday last Waterford put their neighbouring county from across the Suir on notice that Walsh Park is a difficult fixture to negotiate.
Liam Cahill’s charges completely overran the visitors in the final quarter to run out comfortable ten points winners in round four of the Allianz National Hurling League Division 1B.
The sides will meet again in six weeks’ time in the opening game of the this season’s Munster hurling championship but it remains advantage Waterford going into this particular fixture.
Waterford have now beaten Tipperary in their last three competitive outings.
Waterford also remain unbeaten at Walsh Park under Liam Cahill and look well placed to mount a serious challenge for league, Munster and All-Ireland honours this season.
Waterford could afford to have regulars Austin Gleeson, Jamie Barron, Calum Lyons, Dessie Hutchinson and Pauric Mahony all absent and still manage to win by double digits.
New Tipperary manager Colm Bonnar cut a forlorn figure by games’ end with much to ponder before the sides meet again on Easter Sunday.
Waterford, unbeaten going into this game, made six changes from the win over Antrim with Roanmore’s Cian Wadding making his league debut with Shane McNulty, Patrick Curran, Kieran Bennett, Michael Kiely and Jack Prendergast all returning to the starting side.
Waterford’s Patrick Curran just about wins possession in this aerial battle.
Tipperary had former All-Star Cathal Barrett back after recovering from illness with the experienced John McGrath another recalled to their starting team.
Tipperary won the toss and opted to play with the aid of the breeze in the opening half blowing towards the Keane’s Road end. However it was Kieran Bennett who scored the games’ opening point after only 12 seconds with an opportunist point on the turn. The visitors then went on to dominate the opening quarter with Mark Kehoe and Michael Breen in particular prominent during this period. Breen and Kehoe both had multiple scores as Tipperary led 0-9 to 0-3 after 19 minutes.
Waterford grew into the game however hitting an unanswered 1-6 from 20th-28th minute. Unsurprisingly it was the outstanding Stephen Bennett leading the Déise charge.
Bennett pointed from distance before arriving at the end of good work from Patrick Curran to shoot low to the Tipperary net after 20 minutes.
Curran and Jack Prendergast too all landed points as Waterford hit the front 1-9 to 0-9.
Jake Morris had spurned a great Tipperary goal chance after 23 minutes when his clever footwork beat the home defence only to see his effort go narrowly wide of Shaun O’Brien’s goal.
Michael Breen, Brian McGrath, Conor Bowe and Jason Forde (f) all raised white flags on the bounce to wrestle back the lead 0-13 to 1-9 approaching the break.
Waterford’s Shane McNulty emerges with the ball.
Conor Prunty, Conor Gleeson and Iarlaith Daly were outstanding in defence with Darragh Lyons industrious at centre-field.
Waterford outscored the visitors 0-4 to 0-1 before the half-time whistle with Jack Prendergast, Tadhg De Búrca, Stephen Bennett and Michael Kiely all bisecting the posts with a single in reply from Tipperary Captain Ronan Maher.
This left Waterford leading 1-13 to 0-14 and the wind advantage to come in the second period.
The third quarter was pretty even with both sides adding to their half-time score. Man-of-the-match Stephen Bennett was particularly impressive after the interval. By the 50th minute the margin was a single point with Liam Cahill’s men holding a 1-18 to 0-20 lead.
Remarkably the Premier could manage just a single point from a Ronan Maher free deep in injury time over the remaining 20 or so minutes.
Waterford however were just beginning to hit their straps. Ten points in a row for the home side had many in the official attendance of 5,865 heading for the exits early.
Seven of these were from the stick of Stephen Bennett with Patrick Curran (2) and substitute Mikey Mahony, on his debut, all adding to Waterford’s impressive tally.
Stephen Bennett was unquestionably the star performer with Conor Gleeson, Iarlaith Daly, Darragh Lyons, Patrick Curran and Jack Prendergast all dominant on home turf.
Waterford will now go into their final league game away to Kilkenny on March 20th with one foot already in the semi-final of the league, particularly when considering their large score difference advantage over Dublin.
Tipperary will have much to consider before they return to Walsh Park on Easter Sunday April 17th for the opening round of the Munster hurling championship. The Tipperary defence struggled for much of this game with the experienced Ronan Maher and James Quigley best of the sextet. Conor Bowe, Michael Breen and Mark Kehoe all had their moments in a Tipp attack that failed to trouble the opposition goalkeeper even once.
Waterford’s Stephen Bennett scoring the only goal of the game in the first half.
Waterford: Shaun O’Brien, Shane McNulty, Conor Prunty, Conor Gleeson, Jack Fagan, Tadhg De Búrca, Iarlaith Daly, Cian Wadding, Darragh Lyons, Kieran Bennett, Patrick Curran, Neil Montgomery, Jack Prendergast, Michael Kiely, Stephen Bennett.
Subs: Michael Mahony for Michael Kiely and Shane Bennett for Kieran Bennett (54m), Pauric Mahony for Conor Prunty (63m), Billy Power for Jack Prendergast and Conor Dalton for Jack Fagan (61m).
Scorers: Stephen Bennett (1-16, 0-11f, 0-1’65), Patrick Curran and Jack Prendergast (0-3), Iarlaith Daly (0-2), Kieran Bennett, Tadhg De Búrca, Michael Kiely and Michael Mahony (0-1 each).
Tipperary: Barry Hogan, Cathal Barrett, James Quigley, Brian McGrath, Dillon Quirke, Ronan Maher, Robert Byrne, Paddy Cadell, Barry Heffernan, Conor Bowe, Jason Forde, Michael Breen, Mark Kehoe, John McGrath, Jake Morris.
Subs: Alan Flynn for Paddy Cadell (ht), Denis Maher for John McGrath (54m), Noel McGrath for Conor Bowe (63m), Conor Stakelum for Jason Forde (67m), Cian Darcy for Dillon Quirke (70m).
Scorers: Jason Forde (0-6, 0-4f), Michael Breen and Mark Kehoe (0-4 each), Ronan Maher (0-2, 0-1f), Conor Bowe (0-2), Barry Heffernan, Jake Morris, Brian McGrath (0-1 each).
Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)