Limerick weather Tipperary storm to reach Munster final

Even a controversial goal in the 54th minute by John McGrath didn’t put them off
Limerick weather Tipperary storm to reach Munster final
Aaron Gillane of Limerick catches the sliotar ahead of Ronan Maher. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Munster SHC: Limerick 3-23 Tipperary 2-17

They might have been biblical conditions in Páirc Uí Chaoimh but Limerick right now are hurling’s alpha and omega.

Clare mightn’t have laid a fingertip on last weekend but in the teeth of a storm and facing a champion team eager to get back at them for their last Munster SHC meeting they delivered with aplomb.

Cian Lynch, Gearóid Hegarty and Aaron Gillane seemed impervious at times to the weather and Tipperary. On a day when ducks would have drowned, a much-maligned surface held up to incredible scrutiny and allowed these teams to play something like hurling, Limerick faring far better and above all else backing up their physical game with pragmatism and the occasional dash of panache.

For the second Championship in succession, Tipperary must batten down the hatches after they were scuttled by Limerick.

This experience – it might be a stretch to call it a game – will stand to them as Limerick’s outing against Clare did to them but unlike previous Munster defeats that were followed by All-Ireland successes they have no time to lick wounds.

Pádraic Maher had an off-day that Liam Sheedy tried to explain had a lot to do with a knee complaint that ruled him out for three of the five weeks leading up to the game. The loss of Barry Heffernan will be felt given they are already without the aerial ability of Seamus Kennedy and oh how injured Patrick “Bonner” Maher would have revelled in the gruel of this clash.

Hoping that Limerick would be slow to use the wind after they won the toss was a risk for Tipperary given the Munster champions have rid themselves of any cobwebs the Sunday before. Limerick were 0-6 to 0-1 up after eight minutes and 0-9 to 0-4 after 18.

Jake Morris’ 19th minute goal, sublimely set up by Seamus Callanan who was surprisingly scoreless, made it a one-point game but for less than a minute, Gillane booting the ball to the net in the next attack.

Five unanswered points before the break gave Limerick a comfortable, deserving 1-17 to 1-8 advantage at half-time. Tipperary opened the second half positively with three of their own but they found themselves two points worse off than the interval when Gillane hit them for 1-2 in five minutes, his 48th minute penalty goal courtesy of Hegarty forcing Cathal Barrett to make a desperate attempt to stop his advance.

Tipperary more than halved that deficit by the 57th minute, John McGrath’s goal key to their revival although it appeared Noel McGrath may have picked the ball off the ground in setting up his brother.

The Limerick players vigorously appealed its legitimacy but the decision to let it stand didn’t upset them. With substitutes David Reidy and Seamus Flanagan sending over points and Gillane pointing another free, they were eight up once more.

After another sub Pat Ryan split the posts, Ryan and Reidy had shots saved by Brian Hogan before Flanagan in additional time placed a ball past the Tipperary goalkeeper to give a more accurate reflection to the scoreboard.

Other than their display what else was remarkable about Limerick here was their shapeshifting. A team, it seemed, too rigid to accommodate for Tony Kelly last week, they were malleable here in pushing Kyle Hayes to wing-back and Cian Lynch to No 11 in the first half.

Tipperary only went long with their puck-outs for a sustained period towards the end of the second half, although Sheedy was dismayed they did so at all even with the wind.

“I thought ultimately Limerick are very strong in that sector. Diarmaid Byrnes was a rock. When you’re pumping ball down, they love to see it high, himself, Declan Hannon and Kyle Hayes back there today, Tom Morrissey, all those guys are very strong in the air.

“We would have felt our strength was to try and create a bit of a gap and get good ball in and work it through the lines. We never done that today and for us that’s very disappointing.

“We probably hit the emergency button with the long puck-out all of the time. If you become one dimensional against a team like Limerick you’re going to pay a heavy price.”

As much as Sheedy has, Kiely’s been here before. There was hardly a puff of wind over the LIT Gaelic Grounds on June 30 last year when they spanked Tipperary by 12 points only to be caught by Kilkenny and see their neighbours beat the Cats in the All-Ireland final.

After this game, Kiely was asked if he expected Tipperary to still have a say in the Championship. His quiet, earnest tone was telling.

“Absolutely, yeah absolutely. Obviously, that’s their first game so they will benefit from that big time. It’s only one day at a time, and that’s it.”

This was one occasion when the cliche was justified. Limerick learned that the hard way.

They played hard. The beginning to the end.

The 60-second report


The Limerick cavalry. Sure, Aaron Gillane’s penalty goal sucked the life out of Tipperary but they had brought it back to five when the Limerick substitutes scored points.


Just how atrocious the conditions were. Not conducive to hurling or most forms of sport. That these men could provide us with something of a contest was an achievement all on its own.


Limerick are doing all the right things and the extra game likely helped them here but once again they were far better than Tipperary.


Limerick are an itch Tipperary will have to scratch if they are going to move on from this and defend their All-Ireland title. They matched them in few areas on Sunday.


Barry Heffernan looks a major doubt now for Tipperary’s qualifier having retired from this game with what appeared to be a hamstring issue. Liam Sheedy also expressed doubts Seamus Heffernan will be ready for that backdoor game either.


John Kiely’s decision to push Kyle Hayes to the half-back line and Cian Lynch to centre-forward weren’t the reasons behind their dominance in the first half but then they didn’t hurt them either. As Sheedy said afterwards, their markers dealt with them reasonably well.


Gearóid Hegarty was a colossal force throughout while Gillane was such a spearhead. Lynch fared much better in the second half when retreating to a midfield role. Noel McGrath’s ingenuity was one positive aspect for Tipperary.


This was a major step-up for Liam Gordan and he couldn’t have had worse conditions to make his Munster SHC debut. He appeared to be harsh on Limerick in the first half but could be forgiven for missing what occurred in the lead-up to Tipperary’s second goal when almost everyone in the press box did too.


For the first time since 2007, Limerick face Waterford in a Munster final on Sunday week. The game will be played in Semple Stadium or Páirc Uí Chaoimh (4pm). Tipperary are out again either this weekend or the following one in the qualifiers.

Scorers for Limerick: A Gillane (2-6, 1-0 pen, 0-5 frees); S Flanagan (1-1); D Byrnes (0-3, 2 frees); T Morrissey, G Hegarty, W O’Donoghue, C Lynch, G Mulcahy (0-2 each); P Casey, D Reidy, P Ryan (0-1 each).

Scorers for Tipperary: J Forde (0-10, all frees); J Morris (1-1); J McGrath (1-0); N McGrath (0-2); B Maher, N O’Meara, M Breen, A Flynn (0-1 each).

LIMERICK: N Quaid; S Finn, D Morrissey, B Nash; D Byrnes, D Hannon (c), K Hayes; D O’Donovan; G Hegarty, C Lynch, T Morrissey; P Casey, A Gillane, G Mulcahy.

Subs for Limerick: D Reidy for T Morrissey (57); S Flanagan for G Mulcahy (59); P Ryan for D O’Donovan (63); D Dempsey for G Hegarty (69).

TIPPERARY: B Hogan; C Barrett, R Maher, S O’Brien; B Maher, P Maher, B Heffernan; N McGrath, A Flynn; J Forde, J McGrath, N O’Meara; J Morris, S Callanan (c), M Kehoe.

Subs for Tipperary: M Breen for M Kehoe (45); J Meagher for P Maher (51); D McCormack for N O’Meara (54); J O’Dwyer for J Morris (61); P Cadell for B Heffernan (inj 68).

Referee: L Gordan (Galway).