The Tipperary Intermediate hurlersâ€™ championship campaign never got out of the blocks when they were comprehensively defeated by a very impressive Limerick outfit in the Munster semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday.
The result of this game, the curtain raiser to the Senior semi-final, was never really in doubt from very early on and Tipp played second fiddle all the way, with the Treaty men dictating the pace from the start.
There were few instances in the entire game when Tipp supporters, who had made the effort to get to the ground early, could actually cheer. Instead they were left to applaud some of the impressive scoring from the home side.
The writing was on the wall for Tipp from the outset, with Limerick blasting into a 0-6 to no score lead after just nine minutes. The home side played into the teeth of a stiff breeze but they made light of it as they tagged on points from the impressive Willie Griffin (3), Mike Fitzgibbon, Kevin Oâ€™Brien and Tom Morrissey to give them a near-perfect start.
Tipperary had struck three poor wides in the opening three minutes and it took until the 10th minute for their account to be opened from a Liam McGrath free. Tippâ€™s lot improved slightly as they began to settle down - McGrath grabbing two frees either side of a Mark Carmody score for Limerick. The deficit was back to three points by the 23rd minute when full forward Adrian Ryan hit two fine scores shortly after Tipp had introduced Justin Cahill to midfield in place of Daire Quinn.
Limerick midfielder Andrew Brennan hit two good scores into the breeze to match another Liam McGrath free but the decisive score of the half came on the stroke of the interval when Tom Morrissey turned the ball into the Tipp net after goalkeeper Darragh Mooney had made a fine diving save from Willie Griffin.
Tipp had hoped to get to the break with a smaller margin but as it transpired they faced a 1-10 to 0-7 gap - Liam McGrath grabbing their final score with a pointed free in the 31st minute. They also faced into the breeze for the second half and really needed to up the ante quite considerably if they were to mount a challenge. The omens were not looking good, though, at the halfway mark.
Tipperaryâ€™s fortunes didnâ€™t change in the second half and Limerick continued to dominate. There were flashes of good hurling from the blue and gold jerseys but they were fighting a losing battle and the result was never really in doubt once the game recommenced.
Diarmuid Byrnes and Robert Oâ€™Donnell pointed for Limerick early on and though Liam McGrath and Kieran Morris responded, Limerick piled on further scores from Tom Morrissey (2), Willie Griffin and Mike Fitzgerald to leave them ten clear with 20 minutes to go.
Tipp goaled through Kieran Morris in the 26th minute after David Butler and Adrian Ryan combined, but Limerick had continued their scoring vein with a multiplicity of attackers and even when Liam McGrath found the net for the second goal late on, the score was no more than a consolation one.
Limerick certainly played a very confident brand of hurling. They had key men all over the field including Diarmuid Byrnes, Mark Carmody, Tom Morrissey and Willie Griffin, while Barry Oâ€™Connell was very solid all the way through.
For Tipp it was a day to forget although Liam McGrath, Adrian Ryan, Tom Treacy and John Coughlan always tried hard.
Tipperary - Darragh Mooney (Eire Og Annacarty/Donohill), Sean Oâ€™Brien (Newport), Michael Butler (Drom/Inch), Tom Treacy (Cappawhite), Brian Stapleton (Templederry Kenyons), John Coughlan (Moyne/Templetuohy, captain), Willie Ryan (Clonakenny), Liam Ryan (Drom/Inch), Daire Quinn (Nenagh Eire Og), Paudie Oâ€™Dwyer (Eire Og Annacarty/Donohill), Kieran Morris (Moycarkey/Borris 1-1), David Butler (Drom/Inch 0-1), David Flynn (Roscrea), Adrian Ryan (Templederry Kenyons 0-4) and Liam McGrath (Loughmore/Castleiney 1-6).
Substitutes - Justin Cahill (Kilruane MacDonaghs 0-1) for D Quinn (20 minutes); Alan Maloney (Rockwell Rovers) for D. Flynn; Kevin Fox (Eire Og Annacarty/Donohill) for L. Ryan and Joe Carroll (Roscrea) for P. Dwyer.
Limerick - Brian Murray, Sean Finn, Barry Oâ€™Connell, Mike Reidy, Denis Moloney, Diarmuid Byrnes (0-4), Barry Lynch, Robert Oâ€™Donnell (0-1), Andrew Brennan (0-2), Darragh Oâ€™Donovan, Kevin Oâ€™Brien, Mark Carmody (0-3), Willie Griffin (captain 0-5), Tom Morrissey (1-3) and Mike Fitzgibbon (0-3).
Substitutes - Mike Fitzgerald (0-1) for D. Oâ€™Donovan; Jake Mulcahy for K. Oâ€™Brien; Tommy Quaid (0-1) for W. Griffin and Richie English for M. Reidy.
Referee - Tom Walsh (Waterford).
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