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‘Play one inside and everybody else out the field’ – Does Tipp’s first-half hold key to stopping Treaty juggernaut?

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Jake Morris of Tipperary celebrates scoring a goal in the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship final against Limerick. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Jake Morris of Tipperary celebrates scoring a goal in the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship final against Limerick. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Jake Morris of Tipperary celebrates scoring a goal in the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship final against Limerick. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The general consensus following Sunday’s Munster SHC final is that Limerick’s second-half performance was as good a 35 minutes of hurling that most commentators have ever witnessed.

The third quarter in particular still seems hard to fathom with a scarcely believable 15-point swing by the time Klye Hayes scored his wonder-goal in the 54th minute to put Limerick five clear of Tipperary.

Yet in order for that swing to occur, the not-insignificant matter of the ten-point lead that the 2019 All-Ireland champions managed to build by half-time also had to happen.

And the question that Limerick’s rivals will be pondering is whether that first 35 minutes can provide the key needed to end the Treaty’s back-to-back ambitions.

“Every game obviously will be different,” said Brendan Cummins as the issue was tackled on The Throw-In podcast in association with Bord Gais Energy..

“Tipperary probably should have left one inside like Waterford did, maybe a Jake Morris or something like that and then pull everybody else out the field. I think that's what Waterford did to try and stifle them.

“Galway were very good at it last year as well and got opportunities. If anybody is going to beat Limerick, the semi-final will be the one.”

The opposition for that semi-final on August 7th is still to be decided with the only guarantee that it can’t be Sunday’s vanquished foe Tipp or Leinster champions Kilkenny. So it’s one of Dublin, Galway, Waterford, Clare or Cork who will be the side attempting to prevent Limerick’s appearance in another showpiece.

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This field is required

Of course it was Brian Cody’s Cats that were the last side to inflict a Championship defeat on the Treaty with their unexpected 1-21 to 2-17 semi-final victory putting an end to Limerick’s dreams of two-in-a-row back in 2019.

And while Liam Sheedy’s Premier ensured Kilkenny couldn’t use that win as a springboard to a first Liam MacCarthy since 2015, Cummins believes that semi-final provided a template his native county followed in that impressive first-half on Sunday.

But whether Tipp or any other side can sustain it for the required 70 minutes remains to be seen.

“I think if you can get four or five ahead of them, Kilkenny showed that you then get into a shape where you play one inside, everybody else out the field and you make them play the ball through like Tipperary did in the first half,” finished the five-time All Star goalkeeper.

“Unfortunately there were too many avenues left wide open for Limerick to run the ball.

“The narrative of course after the game with Tipp supporters was 'ah we've no legs, we're slow, we're this, we're that'.

“But if you get most of those Limerick players one-on-one like it was in the second half, unless you're an Olympic sprinter with a hurley in your hand, you're going to be in difficulty.

“So the only way around that is to pull bodies around the middle of the field. Every time they turn, they hit into somebody. Try to get them to take risks that they wouldn't normally want to take.

“Tipp did that in the first half but unfortunately in the second half it obviously petered out. Concentration is going to be the key with Limerick along with the work-rate. I mean you have to have your head on a swivel all the time.

“They challenge you in every facet of the game and any chink in the armour then they'll go for it. And you saw at the weekend how quickly they put the game away - 1-10 I think it was to a point in that third quarter.”


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