Tipperary's Mark Kehoe pictured in action against Limerick. Photo: Sportsfile
The Tipperary under-21 hurlers lost by eleven points to a Limerick team of real pedigree at Páirc na nGael on Thursday evening. William Maher’s men certainly tried hard, but found themselves out-classed on this occasion by a Limerick side which featured sensational performances from Kyle Hayes, Cian Lynch, Ronan Lynch and Tom Morrissey.
Bord Gáis Energy Munster Under-21
Hurling Championship Quarter-Final
Limerick 2-24 Tipperary 0-19
Limerick raced into a seven-point lead and enjoyed a ten-point interval advantage (2-12 to 0-8) thanks to goals which arrived courtesy of captain Tom Morrissey and Barry Nash.
Playing with the breeze in the second half Tipperary rallied and it was at this juncture that the composure, slick hurling ability and raw physical power of the Limerick lads came to the fore. A Lyndon Fairbrother point in the 41st minute left six between them (0-13 to 2-13), but just then Limerick upped their performance a gear or three. Indeed, during the ensuing eight minutes Limerick flashed over six efforts and opened a twelve-point gap (0-13 to 2-19).
To be fair and honest about the thing Tipperary could not cope with the brand of joined-up hurling employed by this Limerick team. There is simply no getting away from the fact that this was highly impressive stuff from the home side. Tipperary could point to the performance of both Ger Browne and Mark Kehoe in terms of outstanding individual displays, but, unfortunately, the collective effort of William Maher’s men fell well short on this occasion. Indeed, Tipperary supporters left Páirc na nGael on Thursday evening clinging to the hope that the younger members of the squad would learn significant lessons from this particular under-21 experience.
Limerick were dominant right from the start and raced into a 1-4 to no-score lead inside the opening ten minutes. An Aaron Gillane free got the home side off the mark in the first minute before Cian Lynch doubled his side’s tally. Lynch performed a key creative role for Limerick from centre-forward and recycled possession beautifully in the fourth minute to Colin Ryan who delivered a sweet strike.
In the fifth minute Cian Lynch created a goal-scoring opportunity for full-forward Tom Morrissey, but the Ahane man drilled wide. That miss, however, proved a mere precursor to the opening goal of the game in the sixth minute - Lynch found Peter Casey who, in turn, picked out Barry Nash. The South Liberties man’s shot was saved by Tipp ‘keeper Brian Hogan, but Tom Morrissey was on hand to bundle in the rebound. In the tenth minute Colin Ryan notched a long-range point off his left and the Shannonsiders led by a significant seven.
Tipperary registered their first shot at the Limerick goal in the seventh minute when Brian Hogan lashed a long-range free wide while the Premier men fired three additional wides and dropped two shots short before Mark Kehoe drilled over Tipp’s first score in the 11th minute (0-1 to 1-4).
Billy McCarthy added a Tipp point soon after, but Limerick responded with a brace from Tom Morrissey and Aaron Gillane (free).
In an impressive seven-minute spell Mark Kehoe flashed over two excellent points from play and won another free which Lyndon Fairbrother converted, but, unfortunately, Limerick struck for their second goal during this period when Barry Nash rounded his man in the 16th minute, shortened his grip expertly and finished off his left.
A long-range point from Ronan Lynch in the 20th minute, an Aaron Gillane effort in the 21st and a cracker from Barry Murphy in the 23rd forced Limerick ten clear (2-9 to 0-5) - the home side were flying and, worryingly, the immensely-talented inside forward Peter Casey had yet to make a significant contribution to the scoreboard.
Tipperary’s Ger Browne struck for a neat point in the 24th minute and while the Limerick forwards were flashing the ball around in a composed manner Pat Donnelly’s men were similarly composed in defence. One particular incident illustrated as much in the 25th minute when David Gleeson grabbed a Brian Hogan delivery from a placed ball - the Limerick defenders closed down the Ballinahinch man, patiently tackled the corner-forward and forced the over-carry. Limerick worked the resultant placed ball down the flank, found Cian Lynch, the Patrickswell star recycled to Barry Murphy and the Doon man delivered off his left.
Tipperary closed out the half with two converted Lyndon Fairbrother frees following fouls on Stephen Quirke and Ger Browne - the Knockavilla Kickhams star was threatening a goal when hauled down by Kyle Hayes.
Points from Ronan Lynch and Tom Morrissey closed out the opening period from a Limerick point of view and the Shannonsiders led by ten at the break (2-12 to 0-8).
As you would expect from any side associated with manager William Maher Tipperary responded to the significant challenge posed when out-scoring the home side 0-5 to 0-1 during the opening eleven minutes of the second half to close the gap to a manageable six.
Goalkeeper Brian Hogan landed a re-start inside the Limerick 21-yard line in the 33rd minute, Andrew Coffey grabbed the delivery, drew a foul and Lyndon Fairbrother converted. Two minutes later Coffey set up Willie Connors for another point before Billy McCarthy won a Limerick puck-out and found Ger Browne - the half-forward drilled over a rousing left-handed effort to cut the deficit to seven.
Limerick hit back with an Aaron Gillane free, but Brian McGrath set up Ger Browne for another point soon after before David Gleeson intercepted Eoghan McNamara’s puck-out and picked out Willie Connors’ supporting run. The Kiladangan man went for goal and although Connors found a Limerick post Lyndon Fairbrother collected the rebound and closed the gap to six (0-13 to 2-13).
To be fair to the home side the Limerick response to the challenge was emphatic. Aaron Gillane added two converted frees to his side’s tally before Cian Lynch and Barry Nash worked the ball beautifully and despite terrific pressure from the Tipp half-backs found Gillane who fired over a cracker in the 45th minute. And, Limerick were far from finished. Despite playing into the breeze and against a goalkeeper who was now landing re-starts on the thirteen-metre line the Shannonsiders persistently pieced together a series of terrific moves. Aaron Gillane (free), Peter Casey and Tom Morrissey added points and Limerick led 2-19 to 0-13 by the 49th minute.
Despite the circumstances the Tipperary lads showed plenty of desire to honour the jersey when out-scoring Limerick 0-6 to 0-5 during the closing minutes and albeit of limited consolation Ger Browne’s fourth and fifth points from play were something to behold.
Tipperary: Brian Hogan (Lorrha-Dorrha), Paul Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), Emmett Moloney (Drom & Inch), Kevin Hassett (Drom & Inch), Robert Byrne (Portroe), Brian McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Enda Heffernan (Clonoulty-Rossmore), Billy McCarthy (Thurles Sarsfields, 0-1), Willie Connors (Kiladangan, 0-1), Mark Kehoe (Kilsheelan-Kilcash, 0-3), Andrew Coffey (Nenagh Éire Óg, captain), Ger Browne (Knockavilla Kickhams, 0-5), David Gleeson (Ballinahinch), Stephen Quirke (Moyle Rovers), Lyndon Fairbrother (JK Bracken's, 0-5, 0-4 frees). Subs: (37th) Michael Whelan (Carrick Davins) for Paul Maher (blood - reversed 39th minute), (42nd) Ronan Teehan (Gortnahoe-Glengoole) for David Gleeson, (47th) Tommy Nolan (Drom & Inch, 0-1) for Willie Connors, (47th) Cian Darcy (Kilruane MacDonagh’s, 0-2, 0-2 frees) for Lyndon Fairbrother, (53rd) Paul Ryan (Toomevara) for Billy McCarthy, (59th) Gavin O’Halloran (Carrick Swan, 0-1) for Enda Heffernan.
Limerick: Eoghan McNamara, Seán Finn, Darragh Fanning, Dan Joy, Ronan Lynch (0-2), Kyle Hayes, Josh Adams, Robbie Hanley, Colin Ryan (0-2), Aaron Gillane (0-9, 0-7 frees), Cian Lynch (0-1), Barry Murphy (0-2), Peter Casey (0-3), Tom Morrissey (1-4), Barry Nash (1-0). Subs: (40th) Conor Boylan for Robbie Hanley, (42nd) Thomas Grimes for Josh Adams, (48th) Oisín O’Reilly for Barry Murphy, (53rd) Lorcan Lyons for Colin Ryan, (59th) Paudie Ahern (0-1) for Aaron Gillane.
Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork).