O'Shea reign starts in clinical fashion as Tipp sweep aside wasteful Limerick
BY the time this pair clash in the Munster semi-final on June 9, this seasonal opener in Nenagh will be no more than a tiny speck in their rear-view mirrors, but, winter or summer, the basic requirements are the same.
Tipperary got most of them right, including converting a high proportion of their chances into scores, whereas Limerick were dismally wasteful, striking no fewer than 16 wides, 11 in the first half while playing with a stiff, blustery wind. It left them trailing (0-10 to 0-8) at half-time and facing a very difficult second half as Tipperary's nicely balanced outfit set about impressing new manager Eamon O'Shea and his assistants Paudie O'Neill and Michael Ryan.
Tipperary won the second half by 0-12 to 1-1, keeping Limerick scoreless from the 49th minute. A goal from a penalty and a pointed free – both by Shane Dowling – were Limerick's only scores in a second half where Tipperary maintained a high work rate and a clear determination to rack up an impressive score.
It left Limerick manager John Allen very frustrated, as it might have been an altogether different scenario if they had been more accurate in the first half.
"You don't win games when you have that many wides. Some of them were down to very poor shooting – it was easier to score than miss. As well as that, we had two clear goal chances. Tipp created one goal chance, I'd say. You just don't win games with 16 wides, "said Allen.
Seven Tipperary men shared in the scoring, with Eoin Kelly, Johnny Ryan and Brian O'Meara each landing 0-5 while Timmy Hammersley, a pre-match replacement for Noel McGrath, returned 0-3.
O'Meara was especially effective, winning lots of possession on the right side and cutting in to help himself to 0-4 from open play before closing out the scoring with a pointed free in the final minute.
The Tipperary attack did especially well against a Limerick defence which featured five of last year's championship defenders.
However, they were under intense pressure as Tipperary built up an impressive momentum further back, an issue which Allen identified as something that will have to be worked on in training.
"Our backs played quite well in the circumstances. A lot of the (Tipperary) scores came from further out. Our forwards need to work much harder – that's something we've been very aware of for the past year and a half.
"Our forwards as a unit didn't work half hard enough today. When you're allowing backs to come and pick out colleagues with a pass, that's not good enough."
Tipperary had no such problems. The application rate was high throughout the team and with Limerick misfiring so badly in the first half, it was clear from early on that Eamon O'Shea was on his way to launching his managerial reign with a win.
He opted not to talk about it afterwards, instead delegating Michael Ryan to meet the media.
"It was a good workout in late January – no more or no less," said Ryan. "You don't have high expectations of what you're going to see on a day like this. You're not going to get high quality and we didn't, but we're very happy with where we're at. The boys worked hard."
Tipperary were the more industrious side from the off, but Limerick gradually played their way into the game, out-scoring their rivals by 0-7 to 0-4 between the 10th and 27th minutes.
Seamus Hickey's driving runs at the heart of the Tipperary defence should have yielded more but some promising moves broke down on the heavy surface. Tipperary finished the half as they started it, scoring three points in quick succession to lead by two at half-time.
"In the period just after half-time the game probably turned," said Allen. "We should have had a point – Seamus Hickey came through and put the ball wide. Tipp got another score before they tacked on a few points which gave them a fair advantage."
Still, Limerick looked as if they might launch a meaningful revival when Dowling whipped a penalty to the net in the 49th minute after Seanie Tobin was fouled. It cut the deficit to three points but far from being the catalyst for a Limerick surge, that goal was their final score of the day.
It meant that they failed to score from open play in the second half, which was a reflection on their inability to win enough personal battles to trouble Tipperary. So then, Tipp have negotiated a safe lift-off under new management and will be encouraged by the convincing manner of their win with a weakened hand.
"With the whole colleges thing, we were very tight with numbers. We had only five useable subs out of the whole panel," said Ryan.
As for Limerick, the things-to-do list is pretty extensive, not least shooting practice. Some of their first-half misses were all but embarrassing, leaving them seriously wounded and easy prey for a Tipperary team that was clearly intent on putting down an early season marker.
Scorers – Tipperary: E Kelly (4f), J Ryan (4f, 1 '65'), B O'Meara (1f) 0-5 each, T Hammersley 0-3, S McGrath 0-2, J O'Dwyer, J O'Neill 0-1 each. Limerick: S Dowling 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-2f), G O'Mahoney (2f), N Maher 0-2 each, S Hickey, J Ryan 0-1 each.
Tipperary – B Cummins; C O'Brien, P Curran, D Maher; J McLoughney, B Maher, S Hennessy; J Woodlock, J Ryan; J O'Dwyer, T Hammersley, P Maher; B O'Meara, E Kelly, J O'Neill. Subs: S McGrath for Woodlock (52), S Bourke for O'Dwyer (53), M Heffernan for Kelly (59).
Limerick – N Quaid; S O'Neill, R McCarthy, T Condon; W McNamara, D O'Grady, G O'Mahoney; C King, J Ryan; N Maher, S Hickey, N Moran; M Ryan, S Dowling, S Tobin. Subs: D Moloney for O'Mahoney, (h-t), K Downes for M Ryan (h-t), D Reidy for Tobin (52), T Quaid for Maher (55), S Walsh for Condon (64).
Ref – C Lyons (Cork).