We're not going to get carried away, insists McCarthy
RICHIE McCarthy can scarcely believe it. At 25 years of age, this is his first victory in a Munster championship match. What a victory – and what a display from the Blackrock full-back.
His first direct opponent, Seamus Callanan, was held scoreless from play and McCarthy's catch over Eoin Kelly's head in the final quarter was one of the game's real highlights.
With the fat in the fire, Limerick kicked on and McCarthy reckons that real lessons were learned in Thurles last year, when the Shannonsiders lost a five-point lead in the final 20 minutes.
He recalled: "They got the goal last year and we lost the game. This year we bounced back. We got a point straightaway. We learned a lot from last year. It really hurt us, losing in Thurles. We weren't going to lose in the Gaelic Grounds."
McCarthy's man-of-the-match display was central to Limerick's win. But he also heaped praise on the men who came off the bench to finish the job, when Limerick didn't have that strength in depth 12 months ago.
"John Allen was saying that maybe we didn't have the subs last year to bring in – this year we did," McCarthy said. "Shane Dowling got a great score – other boys chipped in, like Niall Moran. Some character they showed."
Behind McCarthy stood Nickie Quaid, son of Tommy, nephew of Joe. The latest chain in Limerick's goalkeeping dynasty and a man without equal, according to McCarthy. "He's the best goalie in Ireland beyond doubt. We see him in training day in day out, brilliant goalie.
"It's like we're after winning an All-Ireland final. The Limerick public are craving this victory, but we're not going to get carried away.
"We're a grounded bunch."
Tipperary manager Eamon O'Shea admitted that Tipp's defeat was "very disappointing." The Premier County, chasing a third successive Munster title this year, were blown away in the final 20 minutes, losing that crucial period 0-9 to 0-2.
O'Shea said: "It looked like we had taken back control in the third quarter, but I was never totally happy even at that stage.
"Maybe another point or two and we would have kicked on.
"But they (Limerick) had a strong level of desire in their play right from the beginning and we didn't get into any rhythm.
"And when that happens the team with momentum finishes the game strongly and they did in fairness."
Tipperary now find themselves in a similar position to 2010, when O'Shea was coach and they were walloped by 10 points against Cork at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
And he admitted that it's back to the drawing board for a team viewed, pre-championship at least, as live contenders for Kilkenny's All-Ireland crown.
O'Shea added: "You are always concerned when you lose a match and to be honest with you we are going to have to look very closely at how hard we worked to win a game.
"But you know, a lot of the lads gave everything to win out there. I think we used 20 players and we tried very hard, but the fact is Limerick were better than us.
"I think we have a game on July 6, but we are still alive. Tipp are still alive and it's up to the management team to get back that momentum, but I still have huge faith in this group. There will be twists and turns along the way and we will be part of those twists and turns.
"We are not out of it – we are one of those five or six teams that can challenge for the All-Ireland and I believe in the players.
"And I believe we can get something from this but time will tell."
A defiant O'Shea doesn't believe that the late injury that forced Brendan Maher off is "too bad" and he also revealed that Jason Forde missed out on a start through illness.
Meanwhile, Limerick boss Allen could be facing into a Munster final against his native Cork, if the Rebels beat Clare on June 23.
He smiled: "Ah look ... I'm committed to Limerick and I'm working with a very committed group of people. I'm a very proud Cork man, but I'm committed to Limerick now. If it's Cork, it's Cork.
"I have a lot of friends in the management, but most of the players I had are gone apart, maybe, from Tom Kenny. That's a question for another day."
Allen admitted that Limerick were in "limbo" after losing the Division 1B final to Dublin. He explained: "We were playing in 1B and not knowing how good you are, how good the team is because you haven't been playing at the higher grade. So, at the back of your head somewhere you're thinking: 'Well, will we be beaten out the gate?' but two weeks ago we played Kilkenny and beat them (in a challenge outing).
"And no matter what Kilkenny team you're playing, it's a measure at least that you're somewhere up there."