Brian Barry reports from Semple Stadium, Thurles where Tipperary saw off Wexford on a scoreline of 3-21 to 1-21.
The Davy Fitzgerald revolution rocked on to Thurles this evening, as the unbeaten Yellowbellies faced their toughest test of the year to date as they took on Tipperary in their backyard.
The Premier bounced back from an opening day defeat in Ennis with a comprehensive win over Waterford two weeks ago.
Given that the last time these sides met was the Allianz National Hurling League semi-final in April when Fitzgerald and Jason Forde were issued with bans, there was never going to be a lack of bite to this evening’s proceedings.
The visitors got off to a perfect start, as a long-range free from Lee Chin and two well-taken points from Kevin Foley saw them into a three-point lead. As the Premier began to find their feet, Wexford responded, with Chin creating a super point after receiving the ball in an unfavourable position inside his own half.
However, Tipp replied immediately, taking the lead thanks to a tidy finish from Jason Forde for a green flag. However, it was soon cancelled out. In the 17th minute, Foley played a delightful ball into Chin, who was dragged down before he could get a shot in. Aidan Nolan buried the resulting penalty to restore a two-point cushion for Wexford.
However, from there Tipp took control, largely thanks to Jason Forde from placed balls, as they thundered into a significant half-time lead, 1-15 to 1-08.
After the break, Wexford began the brighter, chipping away at the lead with the opening two points. However, whatever momentum they had built was swiftly broken by a Forde goal in the 44th minute, as Michael Ryan’s side looked to put the game to bed.
As the game wore on, Tipp kept their opponents at bay, despite Chin leading the line for Fitzgerald’s charges. Padraic Maher proceeded to clean up ball after ball, as he dominated in defence.
When Daragh Mooney pulled off an impressive save from a Conor McDonald shot with eight minutes to go, there was a sense that it wasn’t to be Wexford’s evening. However, Wexford weren’t beaten yet, and continued to claw them back.
Frees from Chin kept the game alive, but Padraic Maher landed a monster point after 68 minutes which restored a five-point lead.
In the 71st minute, Chin strode in on the Tipperary goal, before handing it off to Conor McDonald. With the net at his mercy, Mooney made another outrageous stop from close range to protect the Tipp lead. Chin pointed from the resulting 65, but Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher landed the killer blow in injury time, as he scored a goal after breaking in from the right, to earn Tipp a 3-21 to 1-21 win.
Tipperary: Jason Forde 2-09 (0-09 frees), Patrick Maher 1-02, John McGrath 0-02, Michael Breen 0-01, Noel McGrath 0-01, Seán Curran 0-01, Barry Heffernan 0-01, Donagh Maher 0-01, Ronan Maher 0-01, Billy McCarthy 0-01, Padraic Maher 0-01.
Wexford: Lee Chin 0-10 (0-04 frees, 0-02 65), Paul Morris 0-03 (0-03 frees), Aidan Nolan 1-00 (1-00 penalty), Kevin Foley 0-02, Conor McDonald 0-01, David Dunne 0-01, Jack O’Connor 0-01, Shaun Murphy 0-01, Rory O’Connor 0-01.
1. Daragh Mooney
2. Sean O’Brien
3. James Barry
23. Donagh Maher
5. Barry Heffernan
6. Padraic Maher (captain)
7. Paudie Feehan
8. Brendan Maher
9. Ronan Maher
10. Seán Curran
11. Noel McGrath
12. Patrick Maher
13. Michael Breen
14. Jason Forde
15. John McGrath
Billy McCarthy for Barry Heffernan (53rd minute)
Ger Browne for Seán Curran (60th minute)
Mark Russell for Michael Breen (65th minute)
1. Mark Fanning
2. Damien Reck
3. Liam Ryan
19. Conor Firman
5. Paudie Foley
6. Matthew O’Hanlon (joint captain)
7. Diarmuid O’Keeffe
8. Kevin Foley
9. Shaun Murphy
10. Aidan Nolan
11. David Dunne
12. Jack O’Connor
13. Paul Morris
14. Lee Chin (joint captain)
15. Conor McDonald
Rory O’Conor for Paul Morris (48th minute)
Cathal Dunbar for David Dunne (59th minute)
Harry Kehoe for Shaun Murphy (61st minute)
Eanna Martin for Diarmuid O’Keeffe (70th minute)
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