Tipperary hold off Limerick to set up Munster final rematch but Premier county left with major injury concerns
Tipperary 1-22 Limerick 0-21
Unbeaten Tipperary secured the perfect route into this year's Munster final with a deserved victory over All-Ireland champions, Limerick, at Semple Stadium.
The victory means they now meet Limerick again in the provincial decider on June 30, the Shannonsiders getting there on ther back of score difference because of Cork's defeat to Clare in Ennis.
A brilliant 37th minute Seamus Callanan goal proved the decisive score, the Drom and Inch man firing past Nickie Quaid into the Killinan end goal after dummying past Richie English. It crowned a majestic day from Callanan who would finish the day with a personal tally of 1-4.
Tipp were relatively slow to settle, taking ten minutes to get on the scoreboard - Jake Morris being hauled down and Jason Forde converting the free.
By then, Limerick already had two white flags raised through Shane Dowling and Aaron Gillane but, as the rain came teeming down in Thurles, it was the home team that found most traction.
Tipp were pushing up on Nickie Quaid's puck-outs, forcing the Limerick goalkeeper to go long where the Premier county's half-backs were largely on top of their markers. Seventeen minutes in, Tipp led 0-5 to 0-2, two magnificent scores from play coming from Brendan Maher and Seamie Callanan.
Cathal Barrett was having a super battle in Tipp's inside defensive line against Gillane and it was proving largely honours even until the Holycross-Ballycahill man had to go off injured just after the half-hour.
If that was a blow to Liam Sheedy's team, another soon followed - Patrick 'Bonner' Maher stretchered off in first-half injury-time after appearing to twist his knee in an awkward fall.
Thes two injuries were now asking serious questions about the depth of the Tipp panel against opponents who looked to have the far stonger bench. Alan Flynn came in for Barrett; Dan McCormack for 'Bonner'.
Tipp got to the half-time break leading 0-12 to 0-8, but surely thinking they were worth more than that advantage, Gillane and Shane Dowling the only Limerick forwards to register a score from play.
Sean O'Brien was doing an outstanding job on Peter Casey and, after a bright start, Dowling, had faded from the action.
That said, Tipp had yet to get 'Bubbles' O'Dwyer or John McGrath on the scoreboard either, a real sense brewing that this game had yet to find a defining pulse.
True enough, Callanan's goal effectively forced John Kiely's hand and Graeme Mulcahy was introduced off the bench for the second-half with Pat Ryan and Cian Lynch soon following.
Tipp though were looking unbreakable at half-back, Padraic Maher especially dominant, with Gillane the only real goal-threat inside.
Quaid on the other hand had to save brilliantly from a 'Bubbles' O'Dwyer pile-driver, Tipp eventually easing away for a victory that will mean little if they are not crowned provincial champions in two weeks time.
SCORERS: Tipperary - S Callanan 1-4, J Forde 0-7 (0-3 frees, 0-2 line cuts), N McGrath 0-3 (0-1 free), J McGrath and Padraic Maher 0-2 each, B Maher, J O'Dwyer, J Morris and M Breen 0-1 each
Limerick - A Gillane 0-12 (0-10 frees), T Morrissey 0-3, D Byrnes 0-3 (0-2 65s), S Dowling 0-1, G Mulcahy and C Lynch 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY: B Hogan, C Barrett, J Barry, S O'Brien, B Maher, Padraic Maher, R Maher, M Breen, N McGrath, Patrick Maher, J O'Dwyer, J Morris, J McGrath, S Callanan, J Forde. Subs - A Flynn for Barrett (32 mins), D McCormack for Patrick Maher (36 mins), R Byrne for Breen (47 mins), M Kehoe for Morris (62 mins), W Connors for J McGrath (68 mins).
LIMERICK: N Quaid, S Finn, M Casey, R English, D Byrnes, D Morrissey, P O'Loughlin, D O'Donovan, W O'Donoghue, S Dowling, K Hayes, T Morrissey, A Gillane, S Flanagan, P Casey. Subs - G Mulcahy for Flanagan (half-time), C Boylan for Dowling (43 mins), P Ryan for Casey (52 mins), C Lynch for O'Donoghue (55 mins), D Reidy for Hayes (65 mins).
Referee -S Cleere (Kilkenny)