Tipperary minor football captain Kyle Shelly, the top scorer in their draw with Limerick
Tipperary 0-10 Limerick 0-10
The point earned in this exciting and entertaining tussle played at Sean Treacy Park, Tipperary town, this evening, Wednesday, was sufficient for Tipperary's minor footballers to book their place in the Munster Championship phase one final, where they'll meet favourites Clare on May 7.
A draw was perhaps the fairest outcome to a game in which both teams will reflect with some regret at missed chances. Tipp squandered two gilt-edged goalscoring opportunities in the opening half, Limerick goalie Dylan O'Sullivan denying them on both occasions with point-blank saves.
And while each side finished with eight wides apiece, wind-assisted Limerick shot four wides from scorable positions when the game was delicately balanced, with the scores tied at 0-9 each, in the final ten minutes.
The teams were level on the scoreboard on six occasions, and it was no surprise that the scores were deadlocked at 0-5 each at the conclusion of the opening half.
Tipp looked to have rediscovered their mojo when they surged ahead by three points, the largest gap that separated the sides at any stage, early in the second half. After Tipp captain Kyle Shelly (from a free) and Limerick's Shane O'Donoghue (from another free) had exchanged scores within minutes of the re-start, Tipp enjoyed their best spell.
Another Shelly free restored their slender lead, and when substitute Liam McCormack (who scored shortly after his introduction) and another Shelly free pushed them in front by 0-9 to 0-6, they looked poised to kick on.
However they managed just one more point in the remaining quarter of an hour or so, as Limerick staged a comeback.
Frees from Eliah Riordan and Shane O'Donoghue hauled them back into contention, and it was no surprise when they found an equaliser, through another O'Donoghue free, with ten minutes left on the clock.
It was all Limerick now, and Tipp were on the ropes, but those scoring opportunities subsequently missed by Limerick were to prove costly.
Once they weathered the storm, Tipp saw a Kyle Shelly shot cleared off the line and it was Shelly who handed them a one-point lead with a well-struck free with four minutes of normal time remaining.
The home team dug in and with Emmet Butler, Christy McDonagh, Donagh Hickey and Tadhg Condon all defending like demons, it looked as if they just might hang on.
However Limerick had other ideas, and with the four minutes of additional time almost elapsed Eliah Riordan rescued a deserved draw for his team when his free from the '45 metre mark sailed between the posts.
Above - Ben Comerford had a fine game for the Tipp minor footballers in their drawn game with Limerick
As well as their hardworking defence, Tipp were also grateful for the contributions of captain Kyle Shelly, their top scorer and go-to man in attack; Ben Comerford, who carried the ball with a great sense of purpose; the hardworking Conor Shanahan, who made some incisive bursts into attack; and substitutes Liam McCormack and Liam King, who gave them a much-needed shot in the arm in the second period.
Tipp started brightly with Kyle Shelly's only point from play after just 11 seconds. They had their first clear-cut chance for a goal in the third minute when Donagh Hickey and Rory Collins combined to send Tom Tobin clean through but Limerick 'keeper Dylan O'Sullivan somehow saved his shot, at the expense of a '45 that Kyle Shelly sent wide.
A Rory Collins point doubled their advantage before Limerick restored parity through Daniel Geraghty and Shane O'Donoghue's free. Limerick grew in confidence and built a 0-4 to 0-2 lead courtesy of a pair of Shane O'Donoghue points, including one from a free.
Tipp had gone off the boil after their bright start but they got back on track with a Paddy Creedon point, their first in 17 minutes. That was the first of three points scored in the space of two minutes, the others supplied by two well-struck Kyle Shelly frees from near the '45 mark, which saw them regain the lead.
Limerick's Conor Gavin jinked past two defenders before shooting the equaliser a minute before the break.
Tipp could have ended the half on a high but Kyle Shelly saw his goal-bound shot blocked by Limerick goalie O'Sullivan, who denied them yet again.
Both of those sitters missed at either end of the half, as well as five wides and two efforts that dropped short, left Tipp cursing their luck at the break.
And while their workrate could never have been faulted, their finishing will need to improve significantly before their re-match with Clare, who beat them when the sides met in their round-robin clash in Ennis.
Limerick contributed richly to a fine contest between two committed teams, with the play swinging from end to end. As their season ends, they will remember this game for the fine performances of Shane O'Donoghue, Daniel Geraghty, Eliah Riordan, Frank Corcoran, Cormac Woulfe and netminder Dylan O'Sullivan.
Tipperary - James Griffin (Upperchurch-Drombane), Christy McDonagh (Cahir), Tadhg Condon (Clonmel Commercials), Emmet Butler (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), James Armstrong (Thurles Sarsfields), Donagh Hickey (Arravale Rovers), Conor Shanahan (Inane Rovers), Paddy Creedon (Thurles Sarsfields, 0-1), Tom Tobin (Rosegreen), Luke Seacy (Inane Rovers), Kyle Shelly (Moycarkey-Borris, captain, 0-7 , 6 frees), Ben Comerford (Grangemockler-Ballyneale), Rory Collins (Moyle Rovers 0-1), Jimmy Mullen (Drom-Inch) and Eoin McCarthy (Clonmel Commercials).
Substitutes - Conor Cadell (JK Brackens) for Jimmy Mullen (half-time), Liam McCormack (Durlas Og 0-1) for Paddy Creedon (38 minutes), Liam King (Ballinahinch) for Rory Collins (54 minutes), Dara King (Ballina) for Tom Tobin (56 minutes) and Darragh McCahey (Loughmore/Castleiney) for Luke Seacy (62 minutes).
Limerick - Dylan O'Sullivan, Daniel Geraghty (0-1), Patrick Dolphin, Frank Corcoran, Conor Twomey, Darragh O'Keeffe, Cormac Woulfe, Eliah Riordan (captain 0-2 frees), Michael Southgate, Callum Hedderman, Shane O'Donoghue (0-6, 5 frees), Ruadhan O'Connor, Conor Galvin (0-1), Shane Hanrahan and Mark Donnellan.
Substitutes - Peter O'Dwyer for Callum Hedderman (42 minutes) and Jamie Baynham for Shane Hanrahan (56 minutes).
Referee - Chris Maguire (Clare).
For more Tipperary sport read Cashel rugby team denied in promotion bid