Two superb performances from Ken McGrath and Dan Shanahan spearheaded Waterford’s 1-22 to 3-13 All-Ireland SHC quarter-final defeat of Tipperary at Croke Park.
McGrath was peerless at centre back and Shanahan struck 1-05 as the Deise gained revenge on Tipp for their Munster championship exit.
A 45,928-strong crowd watched Waterford take a 0-13 to 2-06 lead into the second half, despite the concession of goals to John Carroll and Eoin Kelly.
Shanahan’s 42nd-minute goal, which saw him get away from Eamonn Corcoran, sent his side five points clear, but Kelly (1-08) helped Tipp keep in touch and Carroll’s second goal (65 minutes) set up a furious finish.
The sides’ second clash in the space of seven weeks started as it finished – breathless and all-action. After a wide from Kelly, Shanahan opened the scoring at the Canal end. But Carroll soon had Tipp in front – the burly wing forward bulldozed through the Deise defence and ripped a shot to the top left corner of Clinton Hennessy’s net with only two minutes gone.
Two Dave Bennett points and one from the stick of Eoin McGrath cancelled out two frees from Kelly and cut the gap back to a single point – 1-02 to 0-04 – by the eighth-minute.
There was never going to be much between these Munster rivals and the fast, direct hurling flowed right up to the interval. Tipp were landing considerable blows – points from Paul Kelly and stand-in captain Lar Corbett (0-02) opened up a three-point gap, with Shanahan replying for Justin McCarthy’s men.
The Deise managed to level the game by the 24th-minute – 0-08 to 1-05 – with Bennett, Eoin McGrath and Shanahan hitting over a succession of scores.
Kelly’s goal followed two minutes later when the Mullinahone man, who had been fouled by his marker Eoin Murphy, cracked home an unstoppable 14-yard free for another memorable moment in his summer catalogue. The 24-year-old came into the quarter-final having scored a mammoth 2-30 in three games and he cemented his reputation with another good display at headquarters.
However, the sure-footed Bennett was finding some joy up the other end with his free-taking – the Lismore midfielder tacked on three frees – taking his tally to 0-06 – to square it up again at 0-11 to 2-05.
Kelly made use of some slack marking to squeeze Tipp in front, and while Waterford lost Bennett to an ankle injury, they still nipped ahead before referee Barry Kelly’s half-time whistle.
John Mullane flung over the leveller before a soft penalty award, earned by Shanahan three minutes into injury-time, saw Ken McGrath pace forward and fire a shot goal-bound but Brendan Cummins was equal to it and he touched it over the bar.
Tipp had a decent chance to get back on terms, four minutes into the second half, but Corbett had a shot blocked away by Hennessy when the lurking Kelly was unmarked to the Tipp skipper’s left.
Despite the loss of Bennett, Waterford controlled the majority of the second half with Shanahan’s goal and three points from team captain Paul Flynn, who showed well despite his thigh injury, pushing them seven points clear by the 64-minute mark.
Tipp finished the game with a wides tally of 15, whereas Waterford struck only eight and were much more clinical.
A high delivery had Shanahan scampering goal-ward and away from the challenge of Corcoran on 42 minutes, and the 6ft 3in attacker made no mistake by crashing the ball past Cummins to the far left corner and wheeling away in crest-clutching delight. That strike made it 1-15 to 2-07.
Flynn was sprung from the bench as McCarthy sought to tie up the result. Tipp never lay down and a trio of points from Kelly (free), John O’Brien and substitute Willie Ryan was the ideal response.
Waterford though hit six of the next seven points to hit overdrive – Shanahan, Flynn (0-03 (2f)), Michael Walsh and Mullane all raised white flags as a lone Eoin Kelly shot was swamped.
Flynn’s third point had his men 1-21 to 2-11 to the good, but then Corbett played in Carroll for his second goal – a driven shot to the left of Hennessy – and there was a new life about Babs Keating’s side.
Kelly swung over a ‘65’ and a lengthy free, sandwiching Shanahan’s fifth point, to leave just a goal between the sides as they headed for injury-time.
Incredibly, in the dying seconds, it was McGrath, who had been dominant under so many high balls during the second half, who managed to deflect what looked a goal-bound shot from Kelly away for a ‘65’.
Kelly pitched the ball back in, a forest of bodies converged on it but the Deise’s defence was resilient, and although the game ended with Carroll and Declan Prendergast squaring up to each other on the edge of the square, there could be little ill-feeling as Waterford deservedly marched into their fourth All-Ireland semi-final since 1998.
Waterford: C Hennessy; D Prendergast, T Feeney, E Murphy; T Browne, K McGrath (0-01 (1 pen)), B Phelan; S O'Sullivan, D Bennett (0-06 (5f)), D Shanahan (1-05), S Pendergast, E Kelly (0-01 (1f)); J Mullane (0-02), M Walsh (0-01), E McGrath (0-03).
Subs used: J Murray for Phelan (30 mins), J Kennedy for Bennett (half-time), P Flynn (0-03 (2f)) for O'Sullivan (46), S Molumphy for S Prendergast (60), P O'Brien for E McGrath (64).
Tipperary: B Cummins; D Fanning, P Curran, P Ormonde; E Corcoran, C O'Mahoney, H Moloney; P Kelly (0-01), S McGrath; J Carroll (2-00), F Devanney, J O'Brien (0-01), L Corbett (0-02), D Fitzgerald, E Kelly (1-08 (4f, 2 '65')).
Subs used: W Ryan (0-01) for Devanney (44 mins), J O'Brien for Butler (58), C Morrissey for McGrath (63), K Dunne for P Kelly (65).
Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath).