By Daragh Ó Conchúir in Páirc Uí Chaoimh
TIPPERARY will go into their Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Semi-Final as rank outsiders against champions Cork but having returned to this stage for the first time in 10 years, are not ready to end their season yet.
Captain Orla O’Dwyer was exultant as Tipperary survived a determined fightback by Waterford in the second to make it to the last four.
“We knew we couldn’t underestimate Waterford, they’re a super team, up and coming” said O’Dwyer, who scored three points and was named Liberty Insurance Player of the Match.
“We’re delighted. We came out all guns blazing. We felt we hadn’t given our true performance yet and we have done that today.
“We can’t wait now for the Semi-Final. We just kept going and our workrate was super. I can’t be more proud of the girls. It’s brilliant. Hopefully now into the Semi-Final, win that again and go on again.
“Waterford are very strong. We knew that and everyone has their purple patch. We knew we couldn’t drop our heads and had to keep going and that’s what we did. It’s all about mentality as well. Our bodies just kept us going. I think Tipperary is on the way up and hopefully we stay going.”
Manager Bill Mullaney pointed out that his charges had shown composure in the face of intense pressure on countless occasions already this year, not least when scoring an injury-time goal to beat Offaly in the round-robin stages.
So when Waterford got to within two points, he was confident the players would pull through.
“We’ve been in this situation all year. We’ve been down two or three points and came back to win it. Against Offaly, it was the last puck of the game. Their character, you can’t question. When it got back to two points, we steadied, we drove on, we got a point and I thought we were the better team overall.
“I’m delighted for all of them girls. They’ve got great character.”
This was Waterford’s first appearance in the knockout stages of the Senior Championship and the nerves were very evident in the first half. They showed more than enough to show they deserved their place in the top six however and given the youth of the squad, can already look forward to next year with optimism.
Points from Grace O’Brien, the excellent Ciardha Maher, O’Dwyer and Cáit Devane propelled Tipperary into a 0-7 to 0-1 lead.
Waterford gradually settled, with Beth Carton and Niamh Rockett getting on the scoresheet, before Carton got a goal in the 30th minute, after an error by goalkeeper Caoimhe Burke.
Tipp still replied with points from O’Brien and O’Dwyer to make it 0-11 to 1-4 at the interval.
Áine Lyng and Lorraine Bray were inspirational in the second half as Waterford upped their intensity considerably. Bray and Rockett hit fine scores and when Carton landed placed ball, there were just two points between the sides.
Ciardha Maher made it three soon after though before Devane’s shot from well inside her own half flew all the way to the net in similar fashion to Carton’s, deceiving Ciara Jackman, who had been almost flawless until then.
Devane made it a seven-point game immediately after and there was no way back for Waterford.
SCORER FOR TIPPERARY: C Devane 1-4(1-3fs); Ciardha Maher, O O’Dwyer 0-3 each; G O’Brien 0-2; Caoimhe Maher, L Loughanne 0-1 each
SCORERS FOR WATERFORD: B Carton 1-4(3fs, 1 45); N Rockett 0-2; L Bray 0-1
TIPPERARY: C Burke, J A Burke, G Grace, C Quirke, C Mullaney, K Kennedy, M Ryan, L Loughnane, E Fryday, Ciardha Maher, Caoimhe Maher, O O’Dwyer, G O’Brien, C Deane, R Cahill. Subs: S Fryday for Cahill (ht), M Camption for Caoimhe Maher (39), C Hennessey for Loughnane (48), E McDonnell for O’Brien (60+2)
WATERFORD:C Jackman, K Lynch, I Heffernan, S Harney, A Laners, A Lyng, S Kiernan, L Bray, D Fahey, N Rockett, Annie Fitzgerald, F Morrissey, K Tobin, B Carton, O Hickey. Subs: A Power for Morrissey (30). Subs: Aisling Power for Morrissey (30), C Whyte for Landers (ht), M Power for Kiernan inj (ht), K McMahon for Hickey (44)
REFEREE: O Elliott (Antrim)