O'Dwyer steers Tipp past hapless Limerick to close in on 'clean sweep'
KEN Hogan's Tipperary ended Limerick's reign as Munster champions last night to complete a remarkable few days for the Premier County.
Tipp, Munster and All-Ireland U-21 champions in 2010, cruised to a surprisingly comfortable five-point win against the hosts in front of 5,186 spectators at the Gaelic Grounds.
And following the completion of a minor-senior provincial double at Pairc Ui Chaoimh last Sunday, a 'clean sweep' in Munster remains a possibility as Tipp prepare for U-21 and intermediate finals.
Tipp, who were ahead by 1-6 to 0-7 at half-time, blitzed Limerick in the second half to set up a final meeting with Clare or Waterford on August 8.
Playing against the breeze after half-time, Tipp were still seven points clear before Limerick's leading scorer, senior star Shane Dowling, lashed home a consolation goal in stoppage-time.
Remarkably, that was Dowling's sole score from play and John Fitzgerald's men mustered just 1-3 from play during the entire game.
In truth, Tipp could have won by more but Hogan's men registered 16 wides, 11 of those coming in the first half.
After half-time, Limerick were desperately flat and Tipperary's leading scorer John O'Dwyer, who finished with eight of his nine points from frees, kept the scoreboard ticking over nicely.
The roving Denis Maher was also a tower of strength for Tipp, finishing with a personal haul of 1-3.
But this was a night when Limerick's big names failed to deliver, with a number of positional switches failing to rouse last year's beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists from their slumber.
The home side's starting line-up contained six members of the senior squad for last Saturday's All-Ireland qualifier victory over Clare in their ranks, but it was Tipp who got off to a flyer.
In the first 10 minutes, Limerick had just one shot on goal -- a converted free scored by Dowling in the ninth minute.
In contrast, Tipp had racked up 1-3 in the opening nine minutes -- with Maher steaming through for a cracking goal to open up a five-point lead.
But Limerick outscored the visitors by 0-6 to 0-3 for the remainder of the half -- Kevin Downes popping over two points from play and Dowling unerring from placed balls.
In the first Munster U-21 championship clash between the neighbours since 2008, O'Dwyer was faultless from frees but Tipp should have had more than just 1-1 from play in the bank before the break.
O'Dwyer and Dowling matched each other point for point in the free-taking stakes -- but the teams shared just four scores from play between them before half-time.
Tipp were insistent on taking the direct route -- particularly in the first half -- with Cian Hogan an obvious outlet at full-forward.
But their play was more measured and precise in the second half, with Curran, Hogan, 2011 All-Ireland minor football-winning captain Liam McGrath and substitute Jason Forde slotting over points from play.
Scorers -- Tipperary: J O'Dwyer 0-9 (8f), D Maher 1-3, S Curran, L McGrath, C Hogan, J Forde 0-1 each. Limerick: S Dowling 1-8 (0-6f, 0-2 '65'), K Downes 0-2, N Kennedy 0-1.
Tipperary -- Paul Ryan; S Maher, A Ryan, Pa Ryan; B Stapleton, W Ryan, J Cahill; D McCormack, N O'Meara; L McGrath, S Curran, D Maher; E Murray, C Hogan, J O'Dwyer. Subs: J Forde for Murray (h-t), A McGrath for McCormack (58).
Limerick -- A Murphy; A Dempsey, D Morrissey, S O'Reilly; T Ryan, D Hannon, R Egan; S Kenny, S O'Brien; S Dowling, N Kennedy, M Carmody; M Ryan, K Downes, W Griffin. Subs: J Fitzgibbon for Griffin (29), R O'Donnell for O'Brien (40), M O'Connell for Kenny (47), A Breen for Carmody (55).
Ref -- M Wadding (Waterford).