Limerick keep on a roll with crushing defeat of old rivals
Limerick 1-21 Tipperary 1-14
There is no sign of the honeymoon ending any time soon for Limerick. For the first time in a decade the All-Ireland champions top Division 1A, after hammering Tipperary last night.
Liam Sheedy's side beat Limerick in the Munster League in December but this was an altogether more prestigious fixture and it showed. The home side completely dominated the second half as they overwhelmed the visitors, who only managed 0-3 from play after the break.
Aaron Gillane top scored for Limerick with 0-9, while wing-back Diarmuid Byrnes was the official man of the match, impressing in defence and scoring four points.
Winning the Liam MacCarthy Cup can work wonders for a team's confidence and John Kiely's side are on a roll, even though they have a lot less training done than their rivals.
Even in their less successful days Limerick nearly always raised their game against Tipp. They kicked off their never to be forgotten 2018 summer campaign by beating them in the Munster championship and now clearly have the psychological edge over the Premier County.
Though Hurler of the Year Cian Lynch was restricted to a cameo appearance late on, Limerick still fielded 11 of their starting All-Ireland final team, whereas Tipp retained just eight of the side beaten in that Munster clash last May.
It was 0-2 each after ten minutes. Tipp lost wing-forward Dan McCormack after 12 minutes, with Jason Forde taking his place, but went back in front in the 19th minute when Seamus Callanan nailed a free from midfield after fluffing two earlier efforts.
The scoring rate improved significantly in the second quarter. Darragh O'Donovan got Limerick's first point from play after 22 minutes to give them the lead for the first time, but in the next play Willie Connors combined with Patrick Maher who found the net from close range.
Forde ought to have had a second goal moments later but he dragged his effort across the face of the goal. Still, Tipp hit the next two scores to move four points clear. Limerick hit back. A speculative shot from Tom Morrissey looked to be drifting wide but Graeme Mulcahy cleverly flicked it past goalkeeper Brian Hogan. Tipp led 1-9 to 1-8 at the break.
Limerick again operated with just five forwards in the second half but edged back in front with points from Mulcahy and Byrnes (free) before Callanan's fourth free tied up the scores for a fifth time.
As the fog descended on the ground and the temperature hovered around five degrees, scores were at a premium.
With ten minutes left Limerick were three points clear, with the visitors' only score from play in the half coming from Forde. A brilliant point from the excellent Gillane put the home side four points up as the Tipp wides tally in the half crept up to nine, with Callanan's free-taking particularly wayward.
The Tipp forwards made no headway and their overworked defence couldn't contain the hosts, who had moved five points clear by the end of normal time.
Tipp finished the game with 14 men - they had used their quota of substitutes used when Barry Heffernan went off injured - as Limerick ticked on the last three scores much to the delight of their fans in the official attendance of 8,559.
The take-home message for Tipperary is that they have a lot of work to do in the months ahead, whereas Limerick have all the momentum. Their work rate in the second half in the freezing conditions was particularly impressive.
Scorers - Limerick: A Gillane 0-9 (5f, 2 '65'); G Mulcahy 1-1; D Byrnes 0-4 (3f); T Morrissey, C Boylan 0-2 each; D Morrissey, D O'Donovan, P Casey 0-1 each. Tipperary: S Callanan 0-5f; P Maher 1-0; J Forde 0-3; B Heffernan, R Maher, R Byrne, M Breen, N McGrath, W Connors 0-1 each.
Limerick: N Quaid; T Condon, S Finn, R English; D Byrnes, D Hannon, D Morrissey; D O'Donovan, C Ryan; G Hegarty, T Morrissey, C Boylan; A Gillane, K Downes, G Mulcahy. Subs: P Casey for Downes (44); P O'Loughlin for Hannon (49); K Hayes for Boylan (56), P Ryan for Mulcahy (63), C Lynch for O'Donovan (68).
Tipperary: B Hogan; D Maher, J Barry, A Flynn; B Heffernan, R Maher; P Maher; R Byrne, M Breen; D McCormack, N McGrath, W Connors; J Morris, S Callanan, P Maher. Subs: J Forde for McCormack (12); N O'Meara for Byrne (49); K O'Dwyer for D Maher (54); M Kehoe for Morris (54), J McGrath for Breen (62).
Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny).
Sunday Indo Sport