LIMERICK pulled off the first shock of the hurling championship yesterday as they stunned champions Tipperary in the Munster SHC semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds, running out 1-18 to 1-15 winners.
A rip-roaring final 20 minutes from the Shannonsiders, which saw them outscore the pre-match favourites by nine points to two, sent the Treaty County powering through to a Munster final meeting with Clare or Cork on July 14.
Limerick led by 1-7 to 0-7 at half-time. Sean Tobin pouncing for Limerick's 19th-minute goal, whipping home after Brendan Cummins had scooped the ball clear in a goalmouth scramble.
However, the home side had goalkeeper Nickie Quaid to thank for two fine saves to deny Séamus Callanan and Pa Bourke.
Limerick's ferocity all over the field had Tipperary in trouble for most of the first half.
But the holders recovered to lead by four points after the break, before the hosts came roaring back in front of 19,507 spectators.
John O'Dwyer came off the bench to score 1-3 early in the second half for Tipp, including a brilliant 49th-minute goal.
Tipp were ahead by 1-13 to 1-9 and looked like marching on towards a third successive Munster title.
Limerick fans must have been thinking of last year's heartbreak, when their side blew a five-point lead in Thurles against the same opponents.
But John Allen's squad is made of sterner stuff this time around.
Tipp could only manage two more points for the remainder of the game, while Limerick ran riot.
This was Limerick's first championship victory against the Premier County since 2007 – the last year that the Shannonsiders contested a provincial final.
Limerick edged two points clear with points from subs Shane Dowling and Niall Moran, before Eoin Kelly dragged Tipp back into contention with five minutes left.
But Limerick were flying and bagged the final two scores through captain Donal O'Grady, excellent throughout, and Declan Hannon, scorer of 0-9 on the day, eight of those from frees.
There were scenes of wild celebration at the final whistle as thousands of green and white-clad supporters invaded the pitch.
It was only Limerick's second Munster SHC victory in 18 attempts.
Tipp now face the prospect of the back-door campaign for the first time since 2010.