Limerick blaze a hot trail into Munster final

Determined outsiders shock Tipperary to reach a first decider since 2007

Limerick 1-18 Tipperary 1-15: A blazing hot day in Limerick reached its white-hot conclusion with Tipperary's Munster title in cinders and the home county, cheered on lustily by most of the crowd of nearly 20,000, reached the provincial final for the first time since 2007.

It has been an accepted fact of facing Limerick that if you fail to take hold of the match quickly the crowd will become a factor and in the sunshine the supporting decibels grew and grew, reaching a crescendo in the tense closing minutes, as it became clear that the biggest surprise in the province for at least three years was on the cards.

Everything we knew proved wrong: the burden of playing in Division One B would ultimately prove Limerick’s undoing, Tipperary would exploit time and space to exert unbearable pressure and ultimately restate their credentials as Kilkenny’s most likely challengers for the All-Ireland.

Not in the universe that Limerick fashioned. From the start and without let-up, John Allen’s team threw everything at the favourites and in the end the team wilting and drooping were not wearing green-and-white.


Even when Tipp's third-quarter replacements looked to have led a jail-break – Limerick never lost their sense of purpose and when John O'Dwyer had pinged in the goal that looked to have tilted the match, Limerick counter-punched so determinedly that they took back two of those points within a minute.

The line
Most remarkably, when the match was on the line in the closing 10 minutes Limerick made all of the running and more to the point did all of the scoring.

Their clinical eye for those scores was in marked contrast to the panicky efforts of the champions to rein in a match that appeared to be theirs for the taking in the 49th minute.

O’Dwyer’s goal, made by one of Patrick Maher’s trademark great runs, put Eamon O’Shea’s team four ahead, 1-13 to 1-9, and most people would have expected Tipp to kick for home.  Instead Limerick persevered and outscored their vaunted opponents by 0-9 to 0-2 during the game’s finale.

Before the throw-in Tipperary manager Eamon O'Shea had withdrawn Jason Forde, who was unwell, and replaced him with Pa Bourke.

Limerick started well, snatching the opening point from captain Donal O'Grady. After Séamus Callanan had equalised with a free, James Ryan restored the lead after Conor O'Mahony was blocked – a score symbolising the difference in intensity.  As the half wore on Tipperary began to find space and goalscoring opportunities but the best of those produced great saves by Nickie Quaid from Callanan and Pa Bourke.

Still, there was a goal in it at half-time with Limerick leading by 1-7 to 0-7 helped by Seanie Tobin’s opportunist 18th minute goal.

Overall though, apart from the third-quarter flourish, driven by Kelly and O'Dwyer and which in retrospect Tipp appear to have felt had settled matters, the champions were very disappointing. They lacked leadership and impetus in attack, no more crucially than when the match needed to be rescued in the final minutes.

No purchase
 Even the late springing of Lar Corbett created no purchase and the hopeful bombing of long ball into the attack was ferociously repelled by a Limerick defence which had grown in confidence. Full back Richie McCarthy played well from the start in the company of a succession of markers – Callanan, Kelly and Patrick Maher.

In front of him Wayne McNamara contained Maher and drove forward and at left wing back Gavin O’Mahony was also on his mettle, taking the first ball intended for Corbett and raising the crowd in the dying minutes.

Centrefield also went well for the winners with captain Donal O’Grady leading by example to finish with three points from play and in partnership with Paul Browne he prevented Brendan Maher and Shane McGrath establishing a platform. Noel McGrath’s deep-lying wanderings had little of the impact that marked that role in the league final.

Manager John Allen's use of the bench helped to suppress Tipp's third-quarter superiority in the half backs . Limerick's replacements in that area made a big contribution, helping turn the tide both of possession and position and also scoring three points through Shane Dowling and Niall Moran.

Declan Hannon was top scorer on the day and although most of his scores were from placed balls his late point from out on the left wing put Limerick three clear, out of harm's way and into the future.

LIMERICK: N Quaid; S Walsh, R McCarthy, T Condon; P O'Brien, W McNamara, G O'Maahony; P Browne, D O'Grady (capt; 0-3); S Hickey, J Ryan (0-1), D Breen (0-1); G Mulcahy, D Hannon (0-9, six frees, one 65), S Tobin (1-1). Subs: C Allis for Breen (41 mins), S Dowling (0-2, one free) for Hickey (48 mins), N Moran (0-1) for Tobin (60 mins), C King for Browne (64 mins), K Downes for Ryan (68 mins). Yellow cards: Hickey (32 mins), Condon (39 mins), Walsh (63).
TIPPERARY: B Cummins; P Stapleton, P Curran, M Cahill; K Bergin, C O'Mahony, Pádraic Maher; B Maher (0-1), S McGrath; P Bourke (0-1), Patrick Maher, J O'Brien (0-3); S Bourke, S Callanan (0-4, frees), N McGrath (0-1). Subs: J O'Dwyer (1-3) for S Bourke (half-time), E Kelly (0-2, one free) for P Bourke (43 mins), B O'Meara for Callanan (49 mins), L Corbett for B Maher (55 mins), C O'Brien for S McGrath(64 mins). Yellow card: Páraic Maher (61 mins).
Attendance: 19,507
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly).