Munster SHC: Tipperary maintain impressive form
Munster Senior Hurling Championship
TIPPERARY 1-22 LIMERICK 0-21
By Shane Brophy at Semple Stadium, Thurles
Tipperary completed a perfect Munster Championship round-robin campaign by defeating All Ireland champions Limerick in front of a bumper crowd of 39,115.
However, the sides will have to do it all over again in two weeks time in the Munster Final at the LIT Gaelic Grounds as despite the defeat, the Shannonsiders progress to the decider in two weeks time with Tipperary having pipped both Cork and Clare on score difference for second place.
It proved to be a costly victory for Tipperary with Cathal Barrett hamstring and Patrick Maher knee forced off before half time with major concern over the latter who was in severe pain and had to be stretchered from the pitch. Limericks Sean Finn also limped from the field late in the game in what proved to be an attritional game.
Tipperary were full value for their victory having hit thirteen wides to Limericks nine, laying the platform for the win in the first half where they led 0-12 to 0-8, despite having played against the breeze.
This was despite having been held scoreless for the first nine minutes as Shane Dowling and Aaron Gillane had Limerick into an early lead but Tipp hit back with the next five with Brendan Maher and Seamus Callanan on target from play.
Limerick relied heavily on Aaron Gillane for scores in the opening half, mainly from free, as Cathal Barrett was doing well on the Limerick star until he was forced off before half time. Seamus Flanagan was also denied a goal by a fine Brian Hogan save.
The introduction of Graeme Mulcahy at half time paid immediate dividends for Limerick as he set up Gillane for a point before scoring one himself as the All Ireland champions cut the margin to two, this in the same move that saw Nickie Quaid make a fine save to deny John ODwyer.
However, a minute later Tipp did get the goal they had been threatening as John McGraths handpass took out two Limerick defenders as Seamus Callanan ran on before side-stepping two more defenders and firing to the net.
From there, Limerick could never get any closer than three points with Tom Morrissey and Gillane their main threats up front, however, with Padraic Maher to the fore at centre back, Tipperary were always able to keep them at arms length, helped by two sublime sideline cuts by Jason Forde who top-scored with eight points with nine different scorers contributing.
Scorers for Tipperary: Jason Forde 0-8 4fs, 2 sideline cuts, Seamus Callanan 1-4, Padraic Maher, John McGrath, Noel McGrath 1 free 0-2 each, Brendan Maher, Michael Breen, Jake Morris, John ODwyer 0-1 each.
Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-12 10fs; Tom Morrissey, Diarmuid Byrnes 2 65s 0-3 each, Shane Dowling, Graeme Mulachy, Cian Lynch 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY: Brian Hogan; Sean OBrien, James Barry, Cathal Barrett; Brendan Maher, Padraic Maher, Ronan Maher; Michael Breen, Noel McGrath; Jason Forde, John ODwyer, Patrick Maher; John McGrath, Seamus Callanan, Jake Morris.
Subs: Alan Flynn for Barrett 33 inj, Dan McCormack for Patrick Maher 35 inj, Robert Byrne for Breen 47, Mark Kehoe for Morris 63, Willie Connors for J McGrath 68.
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Riche English; Diarmuid Byrnes, Dan Morrissey, Paddy OLoughlin; Darragh ODonovan, William ODonoghue; Shane Dowling, Kyle Hayes, Tom Morrissey; Peter Casey, Seamus Flanagan, Aaron Gillane.
Subs: Graeme Mulcahy for Flanagan HT, Conor Boylan for Dowling 43, Pat Ryan for Casey 51, Cian Lynch for ODonoghue 55, David Reidy for Hayes 64.
REFEREE: Sean Cleere Kilkenny.