GAA · Hurling

Waterford win first Munster title in 39 years

Waterford have won their first Munster Hurling title since 1963 after a thrilling 2-23 to 3-12 victory over reigning All-Ireland champions Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh this afternoon. Waterford's heroes were Paul Flynn and Ken McGrath, who notched up one goal and 13 points between them as they battled brilliantly against a Tipperary side who never really imposed themselves on this game despite netting three times.

Waterford won the toss and chose to play against the strong breeze in the first-half. It proved to be the right choice as the Deise took the game to Tipperary, playing wonderful hurling as they surprised everyone by their skill and clever play. Although Waterford's desire for victory is never in doubt, this time around their determination to win was matched by the talent on show and they deserved this victory.

Paul Flynn opened the scoring with a free but Tipperary stormed into the lead, as was to be expected with the wind in their favour. After 12 minutes, they led 0-06 to 0-02 but this Waterford side refused to write off their chances like most others did going into this game and they fought back. Eoin Kelly and Flynn scored two quick points in succession before Flynn netted from a free on the 20 metre line.

Tipperary's players were lined up in the goalmouth but seemed to expect the Waterford man to go for a point. He surprised them all by firing a wonderful strike past the outstretched hurley of Bredan Cummins into the back of the net to put the Deise ahead by a point.

Tommy Dunne and Connor Gleeson made it 0-08 to 1-04 to Tipp but three points from Ken McGrath, John Mullane and Flynn put Waterford back in the driving seat. However, a wonderful goal from Eoin Kelly from a free on 35 suddenly swung the game back in the reigning Munster champions' favour. With three minutes of added time to be played at the end of the first-half, Waterford took the opportunity to reduce the deficit once more with Ken McGrath and Eoin Kelly pointing before Tipp's Eoin Kelly struck a free to give them a slim 1-10 to 1-09 lead at the interval.

Considering Waterford trailed by just a single point at half-time with the breeze now in their favour, the ball was most definitely in their court and they seized it. Two quick points early in the second-half from Flynn put them back in front but yet again Tipperary proved their experience would always count as Benny Dunne pounced for a goal on 39 minutes to leave the score at 2-10 to 1-11.

However, Waterford refused to accept their fate and succumb to tradition and when they scored five points in succession, the crowds that filled the stands at Páirc Uí Chaoimh knew they had a real game on their hands. With Waterford now three points in front, Tipperary levelled matters with another goal, only their second score of the second-half, and again it was Benny Dunne who pounced on Kelly's hand-pass to fire the ball into the far corner of the net.

Further points from Ken and Eoin McGrath for Waterford and from Gleeson and Tommy Dunne for Tipperary left the scoreline balanced at 1-18 to 3-12 with twenty minutes remaining but Tipperary looked out of ideas and Waterford took complete control. Tipp failed to make a single score in the remaining time left while Waterford cruised ahead. Tony Browne scored a wonderful goal on 53 minutes after swiftly stealing a loose ball before netting and a further five points from Ken McGrath, Mullane and Seamus Prendergast secured an eight-point victory over their illustrious neighbours.

Filed by Amanda Fennelly

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