Tipperary 5-18 Wexford 1-19
Brothers Noel and John McGrath scored four of Tipperary’s five goals as the Premier County saw off Wexford by 11 points in this afternoon’s Allianz Hurling League semi-final at Nowlan Park.
And Wexford boss Davy Fitzgerald could find himself in hot water with GAA disciplinary chiefs after entering the field of play in the first half.
Fitzgerald, irate when James Breen wasn’t awarded a free, and Tipp then scored their second goal, tussled with Premier player Jason Forde before he returned to the touchline.
Ultimately, it was a devastating scoring blitz down the home straight that set Tipp up for a final clash with Galway next Sunday, a game that’s expected to go ahead at Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds.
Tipp were two points clear before unloading with a run of 2-04 without reply between the 60th and 66th minutes – Noel and John McGrath netting in that period.
They would finish with a collective haul of 4-04, as Brendan Maher also goaled for Tipp.
There was a late consolation goal for Wexford when Liam Ryan struck from long-range deep in stoppage time, while the Slaneysiders also missed a penalty when goalkeeper Mark Fanning was denied by his opposite number, Darren Gleeson.
Tipp also had big impacts from the bench as Michael Breen came on at centre forward to score four points, while John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer was the creator of Noel McGrath’s 63rd minute goal, finding the Loughmore-Castleiney man with an exquisite, diagonal ball.
A big crowd was present in Kilkenny, with the attendance registered as 19,095, and while Tipp led by 2-06 to 0-08 at half-time, Wexford would have taken a four-point interval deficit after playing against the breeze.
They also fell five points behind within six minutes, Seamus Callanan putting over two early points, one from play and the other a 65, before John McGrath netted in the sixth minute.
Darren Gleeson’s short puck-out was collected by Seamus Kennedy, who delivered a ball up the right touchline in McGrath’s direction.
James Breen looked to be in control of the situation but his error allowed McGrath to slip in behind before finishing high past Mark Fanning.
Tipp’s second goal was cloaked in controversy when, in the 18th minute, Wexford screamed for a free out with Breen heavily tackled while in possession.
Noel McGrath profited and moments later, Fitzgerald strode across the pitch to remonstrate with referee Diarmuid Kirwan.
That led to an exchange between the Wexford boss and Tipp midfielder Forde, with tempers flaring all over the pitch.
With calm eventually restored, Wexford worked their way back into the game and had something to cling onto at half-time, despite shooting nine of their 13 wides in the opening half
They kept plugging away in the second half and were two points behind twice before Tipp, awarded just three frees in the entire game, put their foot on the gas.
When the dust settled, Tipp had collected all but a single point of their winning tally from play, a statistic that will please manager Michael Ryan, although they did rack up 14 wides, seven in each half.
But Tipp will check on the fitness of James Barry before next Sunday’s clash with Galway, a game that is a repeat of the 2008 League final, when the Premier County last lifted this silverware.
The game will also mark the first time since last August’s All-Ireland semi-final that Tipp and Galway will lock horns in a competitive fixture.
Tipperary – D Gleeson; C Barrett, J Barry, M Cahill; S Kennedy, R Maher, P Maher (0-01); B Maher (1-02), J Forde (0-02); D McCormack, N O’Meara, S O’Brien; N McGrath (2-02), J McGrath (2-02), S Callanan (0-03, 1 65).
Subs – M Breen (0-04) for O’Meara (HT), J O’Dwyer (0-01) for O’Brien (48), D Quinn (0-01) for Forde (65), T Hamill for Barry (68), B Heffernan for Kennedy (69).
Wexford – M Fanning; L Ryan (1-00), J Breen, D Reck; W Devereux, M O’Hanlon, D O’Keeffe (0-01); J O’Connor (0-01), A Nolan; L Chin (0-04, 1 65), D Redmond (0-03), S Murphy; D Dunne (0-01), C McDonald (0-07, 6f), P Morris (0-01).
Subs – J Guiney for Reck (49), H Kehoe for Redmond (54), K Foley (0-01) for Morris (54), S Donohoe for Nolan (63).
Ref – D Kirwan (Cork)