TIPPERARY recovered from a sluggish start to ease into the Waterford Crystal Cup senior hurling quarter-final by defeating Limerick IT at Dolla yesterday.
Tipp’s victory margin was flattering though for they struggled to put the college side away after they were reduced to 14 men after 49 minutes when Tipperary’s sole representative on the LIT team, centre-back John O’Keeffe, was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
"It was a better start to the Waterford Crystal than we had 12 months ago" said Tipperary manager Declan Ryan, whose side were eliminated at the same stage last year by Waterford IT.
"We are a little bit further than we were 12 months ago and some of that showed today, but there are some areas where we can improve over the next few weeks," he said.
Limerick IT, who begin their Fitzgibbon Cup campaign against UL on Thursday week, made a blistering start and were 1-2 to the good inside five minutes, the goal coming from Joe Canning. Despite finishing his sides’ top-scorer with 1-8, the Galway star had a frustrating day from placed balls, missing four.
LIT were lively early on with Paudie O’Brien, Paul Browne and Sean Collins to the fore as their short puckout strategy caused Tipperary problems. But once the home side found their stride they hit seven points without reply midway through the first-half. Pa Bourke was the scorer-in-chief as poor discipline by the college side saw the Thurles Sarsfields attacker finish with 13 points, 12 frees.
Limerick IT were four points to the good after 14 minutes when Tipperary hit their first goal, Brian O’Meara putting in the lively John O’Neill. The corner-forward was denied a second soon after by Andrew Fahy, but Tipp turned a four point deficit into a six point lead by the 24th minute with Shane McGrath, Adrian Ryan, John O’Neill and Pa Bourke getting good points from play.
The margin remained the same at half-time and was extended further after the break through Bourke and the impressive Brendan Maher at midfield.
LIT kept in touch through the free-taking of Joe Canning and a point from Sean O’Brien and, despite the loss of centre-back O’Keeffe, had cut the margin to five points by the time substitute Timmy Hammersley reacted quickest to a breaking ball in the square to double to the net for Tipp’s second goal in the 63rd minute.
Tipperary eased away in the remaining minutes, with Brian O’Meara adding two points his work rate deserved, while debutant David Collins also got his name on the scoresheet.
Scorers for Tipperary: P Bourke 0-13 (12f); J O’Neill 1-1; S McGrath 0-3; T Hammersley 1-0; B Maher, A Ryan, B O’Meara 0-2 each; D Collins 0-1.
Scorers for LIT: J Canning 1-8 (0-6f); P Browne, S O’Brien 0-2 each; C McInerney 0-2f; E Ryan, C Madden 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY: D Gleeson; D Maher, P Curran, M Cahill; S Maher, J Coghlan, Padraic Maher; B Maher, J Woodlock; Patrick Maher, S McGrath, A Ryan; P Bourke, B O’Meara, J O’Neill.
Subs: J Ryan for Woodlock (51); T Hammersley for O’Neill (60); D Collins for McGrath (62); C O’Brien for Cahill (66).
LIMERICK IT: A Fahy (Clare); E Glynn (Clare), R McCarthy (Limerick), B Glynn (Clare); O Whelan (Waterford), J O’Keeffe (Tipperary), P O’Brien (Limerick); P Browne (Limerick), E Ryan (Limerick); S O’Brien (Limerick), S Collins (Clare), C Madden (Limerick); C McInerney (Clare), J Canning (Galway), C O’Connell (Clare).
Subs: J Hayes (Limerick) for Whelan (ht); S Lambert (Galway) for Ryan (ht); C Nelson (Clare) for McInerney (63).
Referee: J Sexton (Cork)