Limerick were the victors in a freezing Gaelic Grounds, with 8,559 hardy souls in attendance for their NHL 1A clash with Tipperary.
Neither side seized the initiative early on, a superb Noel McGrath point the highlight of the opening quarter. It was 0-2 each until Seamus Callanan’s free nudged Tipp ahead on 20 minutes: Diarmaid Byrnes’ 65 levelled the game again a minute later and Darragh O’Donovan hit Limerick’s first point from play soon after.
Then matters livened up: Willie Connors fielded well on 22 minutes and a clever pass placed Patrick ‘Bonner' Maher, who cracked home a fine goal. Sub Jason Forde almost added another immediately afterwards, shooting wide, but another fine Noel McGrath point made it 1-4 to 0-4 on 25 minutes.
Aaron Gillane (free) and Connors swapped points and on the half-hour Limerick struck. A Tom Morrissey delivery was tipped to the net by Graeme Mulcahy, and another Gillane free levelled the game, 1-6 each.
Callanan landed a long-range free and Gillane equalised as injury time beckoned; classy Forde and Barry Heffernan points gave Tipp the lead, though Tom Morrissey narrowed that on the stroke of half-time, 1-9 to 1-8.
Mulcahy and Byrnes (free) gave Limerick the lead on the resumption but a Callanan free made it 1-10 each on 43 minutes.
Gillane and Conor Boylan pushed Limerick two ahead, Forde replying with a fine point only for Gillane to respond in turn with a free: 1-13 to 1-11 on 53 minutes.
Dan Morrissey stretched Limerick’s lead to three from long range but Callanan hit a free to make the difference two points. Boylan and Byrnes hit good points to make the difference four, however.
Callanan and Gillane swapped points, Limerick on top as Tipperary’s shooting betrayed them, sub Pat Ryan almost grabbing the goal that would have sealed the champions’ evening. Gillane pointed the resulting 65 and the home side saw the game out.
Scorers for Limerick: A. Gillane (0-9, 5 frees, 2 65s); G. Mulcahy (1-1); D. Byrnes (0-4, 2 frees, 1 65); C. Boylan, T. Morrissey (0-2 each); D. Morrissey, D. O’Donovan, P. Casey (0-1 each).
Scorers for Tipperary: S. Callanan (0-5, frees); Patrick Maher (1-0); J. Forde (0-3); N. McGrath (0-2); Padraic Maher, W. Connors, B. Heffernan, M. Breen (0-1 each.)
LIMERICK: N. Quaid, T. Condon, S. Finn, R. English, D. Byrnes, D. Hannon (c), D. Morrissey, D. O’Donovan, C. Ryan, G. Hegarty, T. Morrissey, C. Boylan, A. Gillane, K. Downes, G. Mulcahy.
Subs: P. Casey for Downes (45); P. O’Loughlin for Hannon (50); K. Hayes for Boylan (55); J. McGrath for Breen (63); P Ryan for Mulcahy (65); C. Lynch for O’Donovan (70).
TIPPERARY: B. Hogan, D. Maher, J. Barry, A. Flynn, B. Heffernan, R. Maher, Padraic Maher, R. Byrne, M. Breen, D. McCormack, N. McGrath, W. Connors, J. Morris, S. Callanan (c), Patrick Maher.
Subs: J. Forde for McCormack (inj., 12); N. O’Meara for Byrne (50); K. O’Dwyer for D. Maher and M. Kehoe for Morris (both 55)
Referee: S. Cleere (Kilkenny).