Defeat a disaster for Limerick, says PJ

LIMERICK manager Pat Joe Whelahan was almost lost for words after yesterday's Allianz National Hurling League defeat by Tipperary at the magnificently redeveloped Gaelic Grounds.

Tipperary 2-21 Limerick 1-12

"A bad day for us, a disaster," he commented. While he felt his team hurled well for 20 minutes, "they were never going to beat them."

Meanwhile, Ken Hogan was relieved that his team did turn things around, saying they would not have wished to travel to Wexford in the next round without having any points. "We never had a great record against them,'' he added.

It wasn't just a noteworthy feature of the game that Eoin Kelly scored the first five of Tipperary's points, all but one from frees. Over the 70 minutes, the entire Tipperary scoring was shared by the Kelly and Dunne brothers, with Paul Kelly just as adept in his free-taking from far out, Benny Dunne - captain for the day - hitting six scores from play and Thomas contributing a goal after making a surprise appearance as a late first-half replacement.

The fifth of Eoin Kelly's scores (he finished with 1-9) came in the 13th minute, by which time Limerick had been limited to two points. In another four minutes they were level, for the only time, and indicative of the way the game developed, Tipperary were to add on 11 points without reply up to the interval.

Interestingly, while Kelly had started in his usual left corner position, he was moved out to the centre for a short period before finishing up at full-forward.

Ger O'Grady made no impact at full-forward before moving to the corner (and eventually making way for Thomas Dunne) and Brian O'Meara made an early exit with a neck injury.

Paul Kelly was the more successful of the two Tipp midfielders, while Limerick captain Ciaran Carey looked promising after a slow start. Indeed, after they had drawn level, Limerick managed to maintain their improvement at a time when Mark Foley was forceful at left half-back and T.J. Ryan was in control at full-back. But, very gradually they lost their momentum, one of the more obvious reasons being that they seriously lacked real penetration in attack. It didn't help either when a goal chance was lost when Brendan Cummins dashed off his line to intercept a pass from Donncha Sheehan to blood replacement Peter Russell.

Andrew O'Shaughnessy put in a huge effort at full-forward, but he made little headway against David Kennedy - apart from contributing four points. Likewise, John Carroll played a commanding role for Tipp in the centre. To make matters worse for Limerick, they lost centre-back Peter Lawlor after a half-hour, with a broken hand. At the break, it was 0-16 to 0-5, after a half which lasted almost 40 minutes.

Within six minutes of the resumption, Thomas Dunne goaled after 'keeper John Cahill did well to save a shot from Benny Dunne. O'Shaughnessy mishit a 21 yards free minutes later and Patrick Tobin failed to connect with the rebound, but they were rewarded with a well-taken Donie Ryan goal in the 38th minute. Substitutes Brian Geary and Niall Moran did well and Donie Ryan put in a big effort at half-forward. But difficulties persisted in defence, resulting in Damien Reale moving to full-back in an effort to curb Eoin Kelly who was superb.

Barry Kelly did a fairly good job of refereeing.

Scorers: Tipperary: E. Kelly 1-9 (1-6 frees); Paul Kelly 0-6 (0-5 frees, 0-1 '65); B. Dunne 0-6; T. Dunne 1-0. Limerick: A. O'Shaughnessy 0-5 (frees), D. Ryan 1-0, P. Tobin and N. Moran 0-2 each, C. Carey, J. O'Brien, D. Sheehan 0-1 each.

TIPPERARY: B. Cummins; J. Devane, D. Kennedy, M. Phelan; E. Corcoran, J. Carroll, D. Fitzgerald; P. Kelly, E. Enright; B. O'Meara, S. Maher, B. Dunne (capt.); S. Butler, G. O'Grady, E. Kelly. Subs: L. Corbett for O'Meara (injured, 10th minute); T. Dunne for O'Grady (33rd); P. O'Brien for Maher (54th).

LIMERICK: J. Cahill; D. Reale, T.J. Ryan, M. Cahill; M. O'Brien, P. Lawlor, M. Foley; P. O'Reilly, C. Carey (capt.); D. Ryan, J. O'Brien, S. O'Connor; D. Sheehan, A. O'Shaughnessy, P. Tobin. Subs: B. Geary for Lawlor (injured, 31st minute); N. Moran for O'Reilly (30th); P. O'Reilly for M. O'Brien (second half); C. Smith for Carey (40th); M. McKenna for D. Ryan (59th).

Referee: B. Kelly (Westmeath).

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