Munster U21 HC final: devastating Deise power past Tipp

July 27, 2016

Waterford's DJ Foran with Ronan Maher of Tipperary

Waterford are Munster U21 hurling champions for the fourth time after an awesome last quarter propelled them past Tipperary at Walsh Park, 2-19 to 0-15.

The losers - bidding for a clean sweep of provincial crowns - had rallied to draw level through senior county footballer Josh Keane at the three-quarters stage (1-11 to 0-14), but Na Deise then hit 1-6 without reply (and outscored their opponents by 1-8 to 0-1 in the last 15 minutes) - including a 50th-minute major from substitute Peter Hogan, brilliantly set up by first-half goal-scorer Stephen Bennett  - to capture Corn na Cásca and seal an All-Ireland semi-final date with Ulster champions, Antrim.

Having brought provincial U21 glory to the county for the first time in 22 years, Sean Power's charges (for whom senior stars Austin Gleeson, Bennett and Patrick Curran were immense ) will now fancy their chances of going all the way, with this wonderful crop of players having already claimed the corresponding All-Ireland minor title three years ago.

With an enthusiastic crowd of 8,843 looking on, the sides scored seven times each during a keenly- and evenly-contested opening period but Bennett's 27th-minute goal meant that the hosts led by two at the short whistle, 1-6 to 0-7, Curran slotting four first-half points.

Indeed, it was a mis-hit Curran free from the right wing which set Bennett up for his three-pointer, the low trajectory of the ball catching everyone except the Waterford corner forward by surprise as he gathered possession and turned to fire a low shot to the back of the Tipp net. A vital score and he let his marker know it...

Na Deise notched the first four points of the night but the Premier battled back to draw level at four apiece by the 15th minute and the next four points were shared before Bennett netted to make it 1-6 to 0-6 with three minutes left in the first half.

Nenagh Eire Og clubman Andrew Coffey put in a superb opening half an hour for the visitors, registering three points during that period. But his occasional marker, Gleeson (who would register five times after the interval!), came out firing at the start of the second half, extending the gap to three with a trademark strike from distance within eleven seconds of the resumption - followed by another within two minutes.

Curran (two frees, one '65') had supplied the first four points of the night before DJ Foran made it four-nil. Coffey (2), Stephen Quirke and Conor Lanigan drew Tipperary level and Coffey then cancelled out a Mark O'Brien effort before dual star Keane edged the losers ahead for the only time.

Curran and Keane traded frees either side of Bennett's goal to close the first-half scoring.

Curran's fifth score from a placed ball made it 1-10 to 0-8 after 35 minutes, with half-time Tipp substitute Ronan Teehan and Tom Devine having traded scores prior to that. Coffey's fourth super score edged the Premier back within four.

Quirke and Keane (free) kept the fightback going and the former - donning the No.14 shirt - then boomed over his county's fourth successive score from distance on the right wing to reduce the arrears to the minimum. Midfielder Colm Roche replied for Na Deise with his last contribution before departing the fray due to injury but Keane stroked over another free to again pare the margin to a solitary point, this time with 17 minutes left, 1-11 to 0-13.

And Keane had the freedom of Walsh Park as he cantered through the middle of a temporarily non-existent Waterford defence to tie the scores up for the fourth time with exactly three-quarters of the match played.

Now, Waterford rose to the occasion like men possessed... Instantly, Gleeson retorted with his third point from play of the second half before cleverly winning a free which Curran clinically despatched from 65 metres; Hogan settled the game as a contest when he gathered a superb overhead pass from the telepathic Bennett and planted an emphatic shot low to the bottom left corner with ten minutes left to play. Quickfire points from Devine, Curran and Bennett left the gap at eight after 52 minutes, 2-16 to 0-14.

Man of the Match Gleeson made it 1-6 without reply before Keane and Curran again traded frees and, fittingly, it was the talismanic centre back who closed the scoring with a sweetly-struck long-range free.

Next up for Waterford - who delivered a masterclass of both hurling and goading tonight - is Antrim on August 20th, with Galway and Dublin meeting in the other All-Ireland semi-final on the same day.

Waterford - J Henley; D Lyons, C Gleeson, W Hahessy; M Harney, A Gleeson (0-5, 1f), C Prunty; Shane Bennett, C Roche (0-1); M O'Brien (0-1), T Devine (0-2), DJ Foran (0-1); Stephen Bennett (1-1), P Curran (0-8, 6f, 1'65), M Kearney. Subs: P Hogan (1-0) for C Roche, J Fagan for M Kearney, D Ryan for D Lyons, B Whelan for W Hahessy, N Fives for DJ Foran.

Tipperary - B Hogan; P Maher, T Fox, D Sweeney; S Ryan, R Maher, B Heffernan; W Connors, J Ryan; B McCarthy, S Quirke (0-3), A Coffey (0-4); C Lanigan (0-1), M Russell, J Keane (0-6, 5f). Subs: R Teehan (0-1) for J Ryan, P Ryan for C Lanigan, M McCarthy for A Coffey, T Nolan for B McCarthy.

Referee - J Murphy.

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