Munster SHC: Limerick dominate Tipperary
Munster SHC semi-final
LIMERICK 3-23 TIPPERARY 2-17
By John Harrington at Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Limerick’s green machine bested both the elements and Tipperary without too much trouble in a wind and rain-lashed Páirc Uí Chaoimh this evening.
They were much the superior force against a Tipperary side that struggled to cope with their greater athleticism all over the field and range of scoring threats.
11 Limerick players scored from play compared to just six from Tipperary, which told its own story, and in Aaron Gillane they had the sort of ball-winning and ball-playing focal point in attack their opponents didn't.
The reigning All-Ireland champions tried with all their might, but at times they resembled someone trying to arm-wrestle a stronger man.
They were far too reliant on Jason Forde’s free-taking and apart from Jake Morris’ first-half goal never really looked like cutting open the well-organised Limerick defence.
That Morris goal came after 20 minutes just after he’d scored a sweet point, and at that stage of the game Tipperary would have been pretty pleased with their lot.
They were playing against the gale but trailing by just one point, 0-9 to 1-5.
But that was about as good as it ever got for them, because Limerick went straight down the field after Morris’ goal to score one of their own when Aaron Gillane kicked the sliotar to the net.
Limerick really turned the screw from there until half-time, outscoring Tipp by eight points to three to lead by 1-17 to 1-8 at the break.
A feature of their play in that first half was their intelligent use of the ball.
They didn’t just try to make the most of the gale at their backs by lamping it long, but moved it patiently towards the middle third where players like William O’Donoghue and Cian Lynch in particular used it smartly.
Still, considering the weather conditions, Tipperary would have felt that a deficit of nine points was just about manageable with the driving wind and rain at their backs in the second-half.
A quick start surely fuelled that belief as a Niall O’Meara point sandwiched by two Forde frees reduced the gap to six.
As if sensing the danger, Limerick redoubled their efforts and their ability to dominate the collisions and emerge with ruck ball became a decisive feature of the match.
Their forwards were working just as hard without the ball as with it, and that desire to scrap for everything led to a penalty on 48 minutes when Gearoid Hegarty was felled in the square after rabid Limerick pressure on the Tipperary defenders turned over the ball yet again.
Gillane’s shots was wickedly struck, and when the net billowed it took a lot of the wind from Tipperary’s sails and they never really looked like winning the match thereafter.
Kyle Hayes's influence grew in the second-half for Limerick and the dominance of he and his half-back colleagues Declan Hannon and Diarmaid Byrnes meant the Tipp inside forwards were padlocked behind an iron gate.
Even when John McGrath scored a second goal for Tipperary on 55 minutes it failed to ignite their challenge.
Limerick simply dusted themselves down and went again, with substitutes like David Reidy, Seamus Flanagan, and Pat Ryan giving them another surge of momentum in the final quarter.
When Reidy and Flanagan hit a couple of points in quick succession to stretch Limerick’s advantage to seven points by the 60th minute, you just knew they weren’t going to lose it from there.
Tipperary ran out of ideas in the end, as a succession of long-balls either went harmlessly wide or were hoovered up by the Limerick full-back line.
Limerick finished with a fitting flourish when Flanagan fired a shot to the top corner of the net as if to emphasise just how dominant they had been.
On the evidence of this performance, they’re warm favourites with very good reason to lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 2020.
Tipperary will hope they can rally just like they did last year after losing heavily to Limerick in the Munster Final, but, on the evidence of this match, retaining their title is now a very big ask.
Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 2-6 (1-0 pen, 5f), Seamus Flanagan 1-1, Diarmaid Byrnes 0-3 (2f), Cian Lynch 0-2, William O’Donoghue 0-2, Graeme Mulcahy 0-2, Tom Morrissey 0-2, Gearoid Hegarty 0-2, Peter Casey 0-1, David Reidy 0-1, Pat Ryan 0-1
Scorers for Tipperary: Jason Forde 0-10 (10f), Jake Morris 1-1, John McGrath 1-0, Noel McGrath 0-2, Alan Flynn 0-1, Brendan Maher 0-1, Niall O’Meara 0-1, Michael Breen 0-1
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; Darragh O'Donovan, William O’Donoghue; Gearoid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey; Graeme Mulcahy, Aaron Gillane, Peter Casey. Subs: David Reidy for Tom Morrissey (56), Seamus Flanagan for Graeme Mulcahy (58), David Dempsey for Ger Hegarty (60), Pat Ryan for Darragh O’Donovan (62)
TIPPERARY: Brian Hogan; Cathal Barrett, Ronan Maher, Sean O’Brien; Brendan Maher, Padraic Maher, Barry Heffernan; Noel McGrath, Alan Flynn; Mark Kehoe, Jason Forde, Niall O’Meara; John McGrath, Seamus Callanan, Jake Morris. Subs: Michael Breen for Mark Kehoe (44), John Meagher for Padraic Maher (51), Dan McCormack for Niall O’Meara (53), John O’Dwyer for Jake Morris (60), Paddy Cadell for Barry Heffernan (69)
Ref: Liam Gordon (Galway)