A Jack Downey 45 in the fourth minute of second-half stoppages handed victory to Limerick in this Munster U20 football quarter-final.
Downey’s pressure-kick edged the visitors in front for the first time in proceedings, but to lead just once proved more than enough as Limerick held out in the face of a Sean O’Connor free which was dropped into the danger area in the fifth minute of injury-time.
The midfielder’s late, late winner capped a remarkable second-half comeback by a team who found themselves 1-10 to 0-5 adrift four minutes into the second-half.
The interval gap had stood at a modest three points (0-8 to 0-5), but a Riain Quigley goal 49 seconds upon the restart, followed by two O’Connor frees, left eight between them and Limerick with a mountain to climb.
To their credit, the Treaty youngsters duly scaled it, outscoring their opponents by 1-6 to 0-1 between the 37th and 57th minute to tie matters at 1-11 apiece. The key score in this burst was, of course, Noel Callanan’s 41st-minute green flag, the corner-forward rifling the ball into the top left corner of the Tipperary goal after being set up by Barry Coleman.
Callanan was a constant source of difficulty for the Premier rearguard, highlighted by his 1-3 total, and it was he who won the 64th minute ‘45 which Downey stroked between the posts. The match-winner showed admirable composure to slot the kick having missed one from a similar position just minutes earlier.
There was also a Jack Coyne wide during time added on and so while Limerick may have spent almost all of the game in Tipperary’s slipstream where the scoreboard was concerned, they were the dominant side for vast swathes of the second period.
Jerry O’Sullivan’s charges, as reward for securing Limerick’s first championship win at this grade in two years and replicating the seniors’ victory over Tipp at this very venue two months ago, must travel to Austin Stack Park tomorrow week for a semi-final date with Kerry.
Tipperary, from a position of eight up, will be most disappointed with managing just two scores, one of which was a free, in the closing half an hour of action. Indeed, they endured a similar fade out in the first-half, having risen a meagre two white flags after opening up a 0-6 to 0-2 lead by the end of the first quarter.
O’Connor (0-3, two frees), Quigley (0-3, one free), and Conal Kennedy led a decent first-half effort, but Tom McGlinchey’s side simply had no answer to their opponents’ direct running when the second-half gathered pace.
This one-point loss adds to what has been a difficult year for Tipperary football. On top of relegation from Division 2, the senior and U20 sides have finished their respective campaigns without a single championship win, while the wait continues for a first win at the latter grade since April of 2015.
Scorers for Limerick: N Callanan (1-3); J Downey (0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 ‘45), J Hayes (0-3, 0-3 frees); J Molyneaux (0-2); J Cummins, N McAuliffe (0-1 each).
Scorers for Tipperary: R Quigley (1-4, 0-2 frees); S O’Connor (0-5, 0-4 frees); K Grogan (0-2); C Kennedy (0-1 each).
Limerick: J Hickey (Kildimo Pallaskenry); C Ferris (Ballysteen), D Woulfe (St Senan’s), J Fitzgerald (Adare); L Woulfe (Newcastlewest), A Shanagher (Rathkeale), D O‘Grady (Oola); J Coyne (Mungret St Pauls), J Downey (Oola); K Moloney (Crecora Manister), B Coleman (Rathkeale), R McCarthy (Na Piarsaigh); J Cummins (Galbally), J Molyneaux (Dromcollogher Broadford), N Callanan (St Kieran’s).
Subs: J Hayes (St Kieran’s) for Woulfe (eight mins, inj); J Fitzgerald (Glin) for Ferris (18, inj); D Lane (Adare) for O’Grady (42); B Foley (Newcastlewest) for Woulfe (52); N McAuliffe (Newcastlewest) for Hayes (58).
Tipperary: K Beben (JK Brackens); L Cleary (Borrisokane), J Harney (Moyle Rovers), T McDonagh (Cahir); M O’Meara (Grangemockler-Ballyneale), D O’Leary (Ardfinnan), É McBride (JK Brackens); L Fogarty (Moyle Rovers), C Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials); A O’Neill (Newport), K Grogan (Cahir), C Crowe (Moyle Rovers); R Quigley (Moyle Rovers), A McGrath (Galtee Rovers), S O’Connor (Clonmel Commercials).
Subs: S Doyle (JK Brackens) for McGrath (40 mins); C Maher (Arravale Rovers) for McDonagh (47); AJ Willis (Portroe) for O’Neill (53); A O’Neill (Newport) for Kennedy (60, bc).
Referee: J Bermingham (Cork).