By Daragh Ó Conchúir in Páirc Uí Chaoimh
A GOAL from Cáit Devane in injury time finally calmed Tipperary nerves after a tight second half and booked their place in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Finals for the first time in 10 years.
It was Waterford’s first appearance in the knockout stages and that showed, as they appeared very tight early on and did not get going until the second half.
Tipp moved built up a healthy advantage in the first half but they failed to kill their opponents off.
Grace O’Brien finished neatly when given too much space and Ciardha Maher added a second from a misplaced clearance by Ciara Jackman, although the Gall Tír goalkeeper did seem to have been fouled after letting the ball fly.
Waterford got off the mark with a point from leading scorer Beth Carton from a seventh minute free, having almost put Niamh Rockett in for a goal.
Tipp responded immediately with a brilliant point from just inside the 45 by midfielder Laura Loughnane and championship top scorer Cáit Devane landed a free in typically unerring fashion.
It was just happening a little easier for Tipperary as the Waterford attack struggled to make any inroads, and with Orla Hickey dropping deeper in a bid to help increase the possession rate, that task became even more difficult with the experienced Mary Ryan becoming a de facto sweeper.
Captain Orla O’Dwyer, Devane (two) and Caoimhe Maher stretched the lead to seven, Devane’s score from play showcasing the workrate of Bill Mullaney’s crew as they forced a turnover high up the pitch.
Carton moved out to the 40 in a bid to increase her impact and the switch worked, as she set up Rockett for a stunning point from tight to the left sideline, and then converted a free from almost the exact same position, after being fouled herself when gathering possession having blocked an attempted clearance.
Then, in the 30th minute, the De La Salle star registered a goal. It was fortuitous, an attempted point that dropped over Caoimhe Burke between the Tipperary posts when seemingly destined to clear the crossbar, but it was magnificent from Carton before that as she wriggled free of her marker and shot over her right shoulder from 40m.
Tipperary’s response was telling though, points from O’Brien and O’Dwyer in injury time making it 0-11 to 1-4 at the interval.
Waterford resumed in determined fashion, with midfielder Lorraine Bray leading the resistance. The Cappoquin player combined well with Carton for a good score and then laid the groundwork for a fine score from Rockett.
Time and again, Bray won possession and the very evident increase in her output, and the impact of it, rubbed off on her teammates who attacked the exchanges with far greater intensity.
The Tipperary scoring rate slowed considerably, an outstanding O’Dwyer point their only success of the third quarter.
With Áine Lyng an obdurate presence in the Waterford defence and Carton finding the target from a free, it was just a two-point game, 0-12 to 1-7 with 12 minutes remaining.
A misdirected pass that found its way to Ciardha Maher was punished by the Burgess-Duharra attacker to end her side’s drought but it was proving a real dogfight.
Waterford had a hint of a chance at goal but neither Carton nor Rockett could just gain control of the sliotar on the edge of the square.
Tipperary had their opportunities too, Ciardha Maher hitting the post and Mairead Campion hand-passing wide with only Jackman to beat.
Devane’s goal removed the doubt. It was similar to Carton’s in that it was a fluke, although a mighty strike from insider her own half. Jackman, who had been so composet throughout attempted to bat, missed the ball and it nestled in the net.
The Clonoulty-Rossmore star brought her tally to 1-4 with a free immediately after and the job was done.
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)