First-half injuries to Cathal Barrett (hamstring) and Patrick Maher (knee) tempered Tipperary maintaining their 100% record as they and Limerick will meet again in a Munster final on Sunday week.
Maher’s setback looked particularly serious although Tipperary were never distracted as they looked better than the All-Ireland champions for the majority of the game.
Watched by a handsome 39,115 Semple Stadium crowd, Seamus Callanan struck 1-4 from play, Callanan finding the net in the 38th minute, and the spread of the home scorers extended to nine. Limerick were sluggish for far too much of the affair and were heavily reliant on Aaron Gillane’s sharpshooting to stay in touch.
A hallmark of Limerick’s play last year was their work-rate but it was the tenacity of Tipperary that stood out in the opening half. Despite some erratic shooting early on, they were the better side once they composed themselves and were 0-5 to 0-2 up after 17 minutes.
Goal chances were few and far between in the opening half although John O’Dwyer was put through by John McGrath for one in the fifth minute but couldn’t convert and at the other end Brian Hogan stood big to deny Seamus Flanagan’s strike in the 18th minute.
A couple of Gillane frees brought Limerick to within a point but Tipperary struck three unanswered points in the space of a couple of minutes, Michael Breen, Jake Morris and Jason Forde all finding their range.
Too slow to deliver ball from their half-back line, Limerick were relying on frees and twice Tipperary were blown for over-carrying. The injuries to Barrett and Maher took some of the enjoyment out of the first half for the home supporters but their colleagues carried on regardless, Callanan and Forde shooting further points before a fifth Gillane free brought Limerick to within four going into the break, 0-12 to 0-8.
Scorers for Tipperary: J. Forde (0-8, 4 frees, 2 sidelines); S. Callanan (1-4); Pádraic Maher, N. McGrath (1 free), J. McGrath (0-2 each); B. Maher, M. Breen, J. Morris, J. O’Dwyer (0-1 each).
Scorers for Limerick: A. Gillane (0-12, 10 frees), T. Morrissey, D. Byrnes (2 65s) (0-3 each); S. Dowling, G. Mulcahy, C. Lynch (0-1 each).
TIPPERARY: B. Hogan; S. O’Brien, J. Barry, C. Barrett; B. Maher, Pádraic Maher, Ronan Maher; M. Breen, N. McGrath; J. Forde, J. O’Dwyer, Patrick Maher; J. Morris, S. Callanan (c), J. McGrath.
Subs for Tipperary: A. Flynn for C. Barrett (inj 32); D. McCormack for Patrick Maher (inj 35+1); R. Byrne for M. Breen (47); M. Kehoe for J. Morris (62); W. Connors for J. McGrath (68).
LIMERICK: N. Quaid; M. Casey, R. English, S. Finn; D. Byrnes, D. Morrissey, P. O’Loughlin; D. O’Donovan, W. O’Donoghue; S. Dowling, K. Hayes, T. Morrissey (c); A. Gillane, S. Flanagan, P. Casey.
Subs for Limerick: G. Mulcahy for S. Flanagan (h-t); C. Boylan for S. Dowling (43); P. Ryan for P. Casey (52); C. Lynch for W. O’Donoghue (56); D. Reidy for K. Hayes (65).
Referee: S. Cleere (Kilkenny).