Allianz National Hurling League Division 1 Rd 1
By Pat Delaney
THIS was the first meeting of these two sides at Semple Stadium since 200 when the hosts won 22 points. On Saturday evening they won by 20 and it might well have been worse.
Laois were facing a team hell bent on getting back to where they were a few short years ago and, like Laois, under a new manager. Co-incidentally, both counties are under new management, with both new bosses, Willie Maher and Liam Cahill (Tipperary) both coming from the same small Tipperary club, Ballingarry.
From the throw-in Tipperary signalled their intent opening the scoring with a Gearoid O’Connor converting an early free. He is one of the new names and he missed very little from placed balls.
James Keyes equalised for Laois but the next three points all came from O’Connor and then came the first goal for the hosts. Ronan Maher delivered a great ball down the left wing and, another newcomer, Seamus Kennedy delivered a low rasping shot beyond Enda Rowland. Cian O’Dwyer and Conor Stakelum picked off points.
After both sides were guilty of some bad wides, Tipperary brought their tally to 1-6 before Fiachra C-Fennell added a second score for the visitors. After that the Premier fired over points from Cian O’Dwyer, the returning John McGrath after a bad injury, while further points brought the score to 1-12 to 0-2.
PJ Scully and Conor Stakelum traded points and with ten minutes to go to half time the margin was 12 points. All the while Laois kept trying but they could not break down the home defence.
Tipperary were happy to pick off points and at the interval they had amassed one goal and 16 points. It was hardly surprising that Laois looked down trodden as they went to the break with just eight points to their name and even though they almost had a goal in injury time.
Before the break management had withdrawn team captain Willie Dunphy and replacing him with Ross King. And after the break Martin Phelan and Aaron Dunphy had been replaced by James Duggan and Pat Purcell.
Laois manager Willie Maher expected no favours from his fellow club man but now he had to try and lift the troops who were trailing by 11 points. Tipperary continued scoring points at their ease although Laois matched them in the early stages of the new half. James Duggan and James Keyes picked off points in reply before PJ Scully and Gearoid O’Connor swapped points from placed balls.
Then Liam Cahill began to empty the bench and that included a few seasoned campaigners like Jake Morris, Paddy Cadell, Mark Kehoe and Dan McCormack. They were anxious to get on the scoreboard and soon the Tipperary tally was over 20 points.
In fairness, Laois kept plugging away with points coming from James Keyes and PJ Scully but like scores from Ronan Maher and Noel McGrath, their captain, extended the home side’s lead. And when sub Jake Morris struck for a goal and a point the stadium began to empty. The locals were rushing away to study their Munster opponents on TV and that was different to the live action.
Tipperary will have learned little from this game, but to get a big win against any opposition after the disappointment of losing to Cork last time out, was a good result. For Laois this was a bad beating and they have little time to lick their wounds as they await more Munster opposition this Saturday evening at Laois Hire O’Moore Park when Waterford come calling.
Tipperary: Gearoid O’Connor 0-11 (0-9fs), Jake Morris and Seamus Kennedy 1-2 each, Conor Stakelum and Ronan Maher (0-1f) each, Sean Ryan, Cian O’Dwyer and John McGrath 0-2 each, John Campion, Conor Bowe, Noel McGrath, Brian McGrath, Cathal Barrett 0-1 each
Laois: PJ Scully (0-4fs) and Tomas Keyes (0-1f) 0-5 each, James Keyes 0-2, Ryan Mullaney, Fiachra C-Fennell, Liam Senior, Ross King, James Duggan and Pat Purcell 0-1 each
TIPPERARY: Barry Hogan; Cathal Barrett, Michael Breen, Johnny Ryan; Bryan O’Mara, Ronan Maher, Brian McGrath; Noel McGrath, Conor Stakelum; Seamus Kennedy, Gearoid O’Connor, Cian O’Dwyer; John McGrath, Patrick Maher, Sean Ryan.
Subs: John Campion for Conor (36m), Eoin Heffernan for O’Dwyer (36m), Mark Kehoe for Maher (47m), Conor Bowe for J. McGrath (65m)
LAOIS: Enda Rowland(St Lazarian’s Abbeyleix); Donnchadh Hartnett (Rosenallis), Padraig Delaney (Harps), Padraic Dunne (Harps); Jack Kelly (Rathdowney/Errill), Ryan Mullaney (Castletown), Fiachra C-Fennell (Rosenallis); Aidan Corby (Clough/Ballacolla), Tomás Keyes (Camross); Aaron Dunphy (Borris/Kilcotton), William Dunphy (Clough/Ballacolla), James Keyes (Colt-Shanahoe); Stephen Maher (Clough/Ballacolla), PJ Scully (Borris/Kilcotton), Martin Phelan (Castletown).
Subs: Ross King (Rathdowney/Errill) for W Dunphy (32m), Patrick Purcell (Rathdowney/Errill) for A. Dunphy (h/t), James Duggan (Harps) for Phelan (h/t), Ian Shanahan (Ballinakill) for Corby (57m), Liam Senior (Clonaslee/St Manman’s) for Maher (60m)
Referee( Tom Gleeson (Dublin)