Tipperary hurling manager Colm Bonnar admitted his side ‘just didn’t respond’ to the second-half surge at Walsh Park that gave Waterford maximum points in their Allianz HL Division encounter 1B.
In the end, the hosts ran out of ten-point winners to more or less confirm their place in the semi-finals. As for the Premier, it’s a second loss in a row and likely ends their interest in going further in the league.
Bonnar’s men will complete their program against Laois in a fortnight, before firmly considering another date at Waterford in their Munster Championship opener on April 17.
Picking up on the positives from today’s loss to their provincial rivals, Bonnar highlighted what his side served at the start of each half.
He told RTÉ’s Sunday Sport: “I thought we were outstanding for the first 15 minutes. We were running towards them and took a nine-to-three lead. We also had a couple of goalscoring chances and when you’re at the top like that you really need to raise a green flag or two. When that didn’t happen Waterford came back to us and scored a goal. It was tit for tat for the rest of the first half. time.
“We started the second half brilliantly, got the first two scores, equalized and then moved up a point. It looked like that was going to be the nature of the game, but Waterford slowly got back to it.”
The game then turned sharply in Waterford’s favour, with Bonnar adding: “The last 15 minutes were very tough for us.
“To be fair to Waterford, they have a really good system; their ability to pick up the ball and ruck and then come out on pace was there to see. They gave us a lot of trouble and we gave away 10 free kicks in the second half. -time, which did not help us.
“It was easy for them to tap and push them further. In the end, we got no response. It’s something we’re going to have to go back to. Hurling can’t finish before the hit I’ve seen teams hovering around four, five, six, seven points with a few minutes to go and we couldn’t do that today.
The Premier boss has used the league to try out new players but is struggling to secure a stable squad ahead of the Championship.
“We made eight changes after the Kilkenny win and seven changes came into the game today. We wanted to get the players onto the pitch and see them in that environment and see what they had. The job now is to settle on a panel for the Championship, but I’m confident we’ll do the work necessary to be fit when we face Waterford again.
Bonnar also heard from Seamus Callanan, who is expected to be out for several weeks after suffering a broken hand in training on Friday night.
“He will meet with the surgeon on Monday, who will give us the extent of the injury,” Bonnar revealed.
“His thumb will be immobilized for four to six weeks and he will need rehabilitation after that. It’s disappointing because we got him on the pitch against Dublin and he had a good run. He had no reaction after the game. It’s another setback. We have a strong squad but hopefully he’ll be there for a good part of the league.”
Waterford boss Liam Cahill was pleased with his side’s performance but felt that “there are still areas” that need improvement.
“There were moments in both halves that would worry me, but there are two points on the board and I can’t wait to see Kilkenny in two weeks.”
Six weeks into their league game against their today’s rivals, Cahill, unsurprisingly, is predicting a very different contest on Easter Sunday.
“There will be a different atmosphere, a different intensity, it will be a full house. It won’t matter what happened today. It’s the fourth round of the National Hurling League today and nobody won’t be excited.”