All-Ireland SHC Quarter-Final
Waterford can look forward to a third consecutive All Ireland semi-final appearance after a four-point victory over Wexford at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, albeit possibly without talisman defender Tadhg De Búrca.
The sweeper was red carded following an off-the-ball incident four minutes from time and could now be suspended for next month’s semi-final, and Waterford boss Derek McGrath admitted he will be a huge loss.
“I didn’t see it,” said McGrath. “What I will put on record is that Tadhg has been central to everything we have done well over the last four years. Made his debut at wing in 2014 and has been hugely central to how we play and what we have done.
“He is a purist, an absolute purist in his approach. I will have to see it and then we will leave due process take its course.
“It would be massive. It would be a huge blow. It would probably change things. I probably haven’t thought about it in terms of what has happened.”
Wexford were always chasing the game once Waterford moved into 0-8 to 0-4 lead by the 17th minute, and try as they might Davy Fitzgerald’s charges were never quite able to bridge the gap.
Waterford struck a really decisive blow just before half-time when the influential Kevin Moran goaled. Capitalising on a Wexford error, Shane Bennett reacted smartly to intercept the ball and put through Moran, who kept his cool to direct a low ground stroke to the net past the advancing Mark Fanning.
Waterford led by five at half-time, and although Wexford flew out of the blocks to claim the first three points of the second half, Waterford hit back with three of their own.
Wexford were struggling to find a way through a defence well marshalled by De Búrca, while at the other end Maurice Shanahan’s brace pushed the Deise six points ahead by the 60th minute.
De Búrca’s red card came too late to offer Wexford a chance to capitalise on it, and Jack O’Connor’s goal was little more than a consolation.
“Absolutely thrilled to be a in a third semi-final in a row. So I think we are justifiably a top four team. If we are anything more I am not sure,” added McGrath.
“I think we’ve recovered well from the Cork loss. Just terrified of this game. Because I was listening to Lee Chin speaking during the week and saying that every word Davy said was gold.
“And I just felt they [Wexford] were a really together, focussed team. And I knew what was coming. So proud of our team to be in a third consecutive semi-final. Hopefully we can take the next step the next day.”
For Waterford manager Fitzgerald, Moran’s goal just before half-time was the crucial moment in the match.
“The honest changing factor in the whole game was the goal we gave away before half-time. It just kind of knocked us. I felt that just got us a small bit,” he said.
Scorers for Waterford: Pauric Mahony 0-9 (0-9f), Kevin Moran 1-3, Austin Gleeson 0-3 (0-1f), Brian O’Halloran, Maurice Shanahan 0-2 each, Conor Gleeson, Jake Dillon, Michael Walsh, Darragh Fives 0-1 each.
Scorers for Wexford: Jack Guiney 0-6 (0-6f), Jack O’Connor 1-2, Lee Chin 0-3 (0-2f), Diarmuid O’Keeffe 0-2, Liam Ryan, Aidan Nolan, Conor McDonald, Paul Morris, Eoin Moore, Rory O’Connor 0-1 each.
WATERFORD: Stephen O’Keeffe; Shane Fives, Barry Coughlan, Noel Connors; Darragh Fives, Tadhg De Búrca, Philip Mahony; Jamie Barron, Conor Gleeson; Kevin Moran, Austin Gleeson, Pauric Mahony; Jake Dillon, Michael Walsh, Shane Bennett. Subs: Maurice Shanahan for Jake Dillon (44), Brian O’Halloran for Shane Bennett (46), Stephen Bennett for Michael Walsh (54), Colin Dunford for Jamie Barron (62), Tommy Ryan for Pauric Mahony (71).
WEXFORD: Mark Fanning; Willie Devereux, Liam Ryan, James Breen; Eoin Moore, Matthew O’Hanlon, Diarmuid O’Keeffe; Shaun Murphy, David Redmond; Rory O’Connor, Lee Chin, Conor McDonald; Podge Doran, Jack Guiney, Paul Morris. Subs: Aidan Nolan for David Redmond (28), Jack O’Connor for Paul Morris (41), Harry Kehoe for Conor McDonald (58), Shane Tomkins for Podge Doran (63).