Limerick march into Munster final at Semple Stadium

Defeat sees Tipperary’s wait for a first championship win since 2012 continue

Tipperary’s Patrick Maher, John O’Dwyer, Seamus Callanan and Niall O’Meara crowd out Seamus Hickey at Semple Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Tipperary’s Patrick Maher, John O’Dwyer, Seamus Callanan and Niall O’Meara crowd out Seamus Hickey at Semple Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Tipperary 2-16 Limerick 2-18

Munster champions Limerick registered a first win over Tipperary in Semple Stadium for 41 years this afternoon. Before a crowd of 24,962 in Thurles, the away side, outsiders for their first title defence, staged a magnificent recovery in the dying minutes to turn a three-point deficit into a two-point victory.

Trailing 1-16 to 2-16 in the 68th minute Limerick conjured an equaliser when Shane Dowling, who hit 2-9 over the course of the match, got his only score from play, taking a pass from Kevin Downes and cutting back across a crowded defence to drive home the equaliser.

In the time that remained replacement Thomas Ryan pointed from the left wing and in the final minute of injury time, Séamus Hickey broke from defence and as the Tipp backs parted he eased off the final score of the day for a fabulous win.

Dowling’s and Downes’s contributions off the bench were crucial to Limerick’s success last year. This season they started and Dowling’s impact was immediate, with a flawless exhibition of free taking in the first half.

A vibrant opening was characterised by some undisciplined defending by Tipperary, allowing Dowling rack to up 1-6 from frees within the first 23 minutes.

Tipperary made one change before the start, Shane McGrath coming in at centrefield for James Woodlock, who was ruled out with a virus. They were slow to find any rhythm but sniped enough from early chances to keep up with the champions.

Space appeared on the scoreboard after Brendan Maher fouled Declan Hannon – and got a yellow card for his troubles – and Dowling nailed the 20-metre free and added another point from placed balls to put Limerick four ahead.

It took just five minutes for Tipp to strike back. Séamus Callanan, hounded by Richie McCarthy up until then, took the ball and hand passed inside to Kieran Bergin. The ball broke for the indefatigable Patrick Maher who hit Tipperary’s first goal.

Level at the break the teams came out for the second half with Tipperary benefiting from the breeze. They took command almost immediately, Gearóid Ryan bearing down on goal and striking a great shot right to left across the goal.

For all that Tipp looked in control they couldn’t quite shake Limerick and it was neck-and-neck for most of the third quarter. Callanan and John O’Dwyer opened a two-point gap and replacement Denis Maher added scores to establish what looked a winning lead.

Limerick will feel vindicated that Dowling conjured the vital score, as referee Barry Kelly looked to have erred in disallowing a 64th minute goal by Graeme Mulcahy for a harshly adjudicated foul against Dowling.

Limerick: N Quaid; S Hickey (0-1), R McCarthy, T Condon; P O’Brien, W McNamara, G O’Mahony; D O’Grady (0-2), P Browne (0-1); S Dowling (2-9, goal and nine frees), J Ryan, D Hannon (0-1); G Mulcahy (0-1), K Downes (0-2), S Tobin. Subs: T Ryan (0-1) for Tobin, 61 mins; M Ryan for Mulcahy, 71 mins

Tipperary: D Gleeson; C Barrett, Pádraic Maher, M Cahill; J Barry, B Maher, C O’Mahony; K Bergin, S McGrath; G Ryan (1-2), N McGrath (0-1), N O’Meara (0-1); Patrick Maher (1-0), S Callanan (0-5, three frees), J O’Dwyer (0-5, one free). Subs: L Corbett (0-1) for Barry, 55 mins; D Maher (0-1) for O’Meara, 62 mins; C O’Brien for Cahill, 65 mins; S Bourke for O’Dwyer, 68 mins; T Stapleton for S McGrath, 71 mins

Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath).

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