By Brian McDonnell at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh
Tipperary 2-20 Limerick 1-11
Tipperary strolled to a 12-point win at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh on Saturday evening against a Limerick team whose performance bordered on the pathetic.
Limerick let the side down badly with the sending off of Robert O’Donnell best illustrating their sloppy approach to this contest - the Pallasgreen man was booked in the second minute of the opening half and then earned his second yellow in the third minute of the second half. Indeed, O’Donnell could have received a straight red for his second offence when tangling with Kevin O’Gorman. O’Donnell let his playing colleagues down in no uncertain terms, but he was not the only member of the Limerick team to perform poorly. Indeed, only one of the Shannonsiders starting forwards managed to score from play - all six of Tipperary’s had managed that feat inside the opening 23 minutes. Although Tipp were allowed to do what they liked for the majority of this contest James Logue, Christy Coughlan, Paudie White, Joe Gallagher and Seán Carey all enhanced their reputations while Richie Ruth stole the show.
Tipperary made a lightning fast start to this quarter-final and raced into a 1-5 to 0-1 lead inside the opening 19 minutes. Paudie White made great use of the wind with a super score from distance in the second minute. Evan Sweeney then added to the Tipp tally before Michael Ryan responded for Limerick in the ninth. Although Tipp were a little sloppy in their hurling (six wides in the opening 15 minutes) a terrific point from Johnny Ryan in the 14th minute helped his side into a three-point lead.
Tipperary’s first goal materialised in the 18th minute when Paudie White picked out Evan Sweeney with a searching delivery and the Loughmore-Castleiney man laid off to David Butler who lashed a left-handed shot past a helpless Ger Flynn - 1-4 to 0-1.
Damien O’Brien fired over a fine point from long-range in the 19th minute before Robert O’Donnell (free) doubled the Limerick tally in the 24th. Tipperary continued to do as they pleased however with points from Kieran Morris and Seán Carey forcing the home side into a 1-7 to 0-2 lead.
In the 27th minute David Butler livened up a game draped in cobwebs when converting a sideline from what looked like an impossible angle. Damien O’Brien then scored his second point before Michael Ryan and Robert O’Donnell (free) managed responses for Limerick. The half came to a close with a Seán Carey point for Tipperary. Half-time: Tipp 1-9 Limerick 0-4.
Limerick were then set to play with the wind in the second half, but there seemed little chance of a comeback since the speed of Tipperary’s hurling was markedly faster than that of the Shannonsiders. Limerick wing-back Eamonn Gleeson charged forward to score a terrific goal in the 37th minute, but Tipperary always seemed capable of keeping their age-old rivals at arm’s length.
The sides traded scores - Kieran Morris (free) and Richie Ruth for Tipp, John Fitzgibbon and Eoin Ryan (free) for Limerick - to leave six between them (1-12 to 1-6) by the 42nd minute. Limerick desperately required a goal and almost found one in the 43rd minute when Mikey Kiely beared down on goal. The Ballybrown man was frustrated however when Eddie Connolly effected a brilliant hook on the Limerick corner-forward.
The tit-for-tat scoring pattern of this disappointing affair continued before a Kieran Morris free forced Tipperary seven points clear in the 51st minute - 1-15 to 1-8.
John Fitzgibbon and Willie Griffin then contributed to the Limerick tally while efforts from Richie Ruth, Kieran Morris and Seán Carey left eight between them in the 59th minute. Limerick enjoyed a terrific goal-scoring opportunity on the hour mark, but an alert James Logue denied John Malone with a terrific save. Mark Deegan concluded the scoring from a Limerick point of view in the first minute of injury time. In the 62nd minute Tipperary scored their second goal - Richie Ruth was denied a three-pointer by a fine Ger Flynn save, but Seán Carey made no mistake when firing home the rebound from close range. John Sheedy and Richie Ruth then helped themselves to late points which sealed Tipperary’s 12-point win.
Tipperary: James Logue (Ballingarry), Gerry Walsh (Carrick Swans), Kevin O’Gorman (Thurles Sarsfields), Christy Coughlan (Templederry Kenyons), Joe Gallagher (Kildangan), Eddie Connolly (Loughmore-Castleiney, captain), Ronan Sherlock (Silvermines), Michael Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg), Paudie White (Clonoulty-Rossmore, 0-2), Seán Carey (Moyle Rovers, 1-3), Damien O’Brien (Burgess, 0-2), Johnny Ryan (Drom & Inch, 0-1), Kieran Morris (Moycarkey-Borris, 0-5, 0-3 frees), Evan Sweeney (Loughmore-Castleiney, 0-1), David Butler (Drom & Inch, 1-1, 0-1 sideline). Subs: (HT) Richie Ruth (Thurles Sarsfields, 0-4) for Evan Sweeney, (45th) Niall Teehan (Gortnahoe-Glengoole) for Damien O’Brien, (50th) John Sheedy (Portroe, 0-1) for Johnny Ryan, (55th) David O’Connor (Borris-Ileigh) for David Butler, (61st) Paudie O’Dwyer (Éire Óg Annacarty) for Joe Gallagher.
Limerick: Ger Flynn, Stevie O’Reilly, Dan Morrissey, Conor Noonan, Eamonn Gleeson (1-0), Kyle Loftus, Alan Dempsey, Jason Hayes, Seán Herlihy, Eoin Ryan (0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 ’65), Damien Moloney, Conor Kearney, Mikey Kiely, Robert O’Donnell (0-2, 0-2 frees), Michael Ryan (0-2). Subs: (33rd) John Fitzgibbon (0-2) for Seán Herlihy, (40th) John Malone for Conor Kearney, (51st) Mark Deegan (0-1) for Kyle Loftus, (51st) Thomas O’Callaghan for Conor Noonan, (54th) Willie Griffin (0-1) for Michael Ryan.
Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork).