In-form Limerick turn on the style to send Tipp tumbling

Limerick 2-14 Tipperary 1-6

Hurling with tremendous passion and skill, the Shannonsiders' victory sets up an interesting final against Cork at the end of June.

Interesting in that Limerick are coached by Corkman Declan Fitzgerald, who hails from Buttevant. A schoolteacher in Castletroy Community School, Fitzgerald spent a number of years with St. Colman's College during their Harty Cup glory years but will now find himself on opposite sides to his mentor and Cork minor coach Denis Ring. Tipperary went into the game with good credentials, but ran up against a bang in form Limerick side who, on the evidence of this performance, will test champions Cork in the final.

Limerick had many stars, notably Tom Condon, John Kelly, David Moloney and Seamus Hickey in defence; Denis O'Connor, Bryan O'Sullivan, Diarmuid O'Sullivan and Eoin Ryan in attack.

Tipperary were a huge disappointment and never played with the same fluency that saw them easily account for Clare in the previous round, but credit to Limerick for not allowing them stamp their authority on the game.

Limerick made the decision to play with the strong wind in the first half and got the perfect start with a Bryan O'Sullivan point after a minute. Hurling with supreme confidence they took the game to Tipp and stormed into an 0-5 to 0-1 lead after 10 minutes, and the visitors knew they had a right battle on their hands.

In typical Tipperary fashion, they weathered the early pressure and with Paudie Hayes excellent at corner back, they hit back with a Joey McLoughney goal and when McLoughney added a point, the sides were level at the end of the first quarter.

In years gone by Limerick would have panicked after seeing all their early work go for nothing, but this team is different, and with the strong wind a definite factor, Denis O'Connor brought the house down when he first timed a Limerick goal.

It settled the home side into their rhythm and from there to the break, and urged on by the huge home support, they took control. Seamus Hickey, who won an All-Ireland colleges medal last Sunday with St. Flannan's, and Denis Moloney were majestic in defence and Limerick's overall superiority was finally reflected on the scoreboard after Gavin O'Mahony careered right through the Tipp defence to score a great goal.

Limerick were in full flow and the impressive Bryan O'Sullivan added two excellent points in a row to put the Shannonsiders 2-9 to 1-3 in front at the break. Only a total collapse was going to lose this game for Limerick in the second half, despite Tipperary having the elements in their favour.

However this Limerick side is well coached, and operating with Gavin O'Mahony out as a third midfield, they continued to hurl superbly all over the field in the second half. The scores didn't come as frequent as they did in the first half and that was largely down to great defending by both teams, and at the end of the third quarter, they each had added only a point to their half time tally.

Despite the shortage of scores there was no let up in the intensity of the exchanges and Limerick began to sense it was gong to be their night after Tipperary hit six wides in a row.

Looking to save the game Tipp moved centre back Ray McLoughney up to centre forward but to no avail as the Limerick number six David Moloney continued to hurl majestically and it was the home side who finished on top with three late points to fashion a victory that delighted everyone associated with the team.

Scorers Limerick: B. O'Sullivan 0-4; G. O'Mahony, D. O'Sullivan 1-1 each; E. Ryan 0-3 (0-2 frees); D. O'Connor 0-2; D. Hanley, S. Kelly, J. Ryan 0-1 each.

Tipperary: J. McLoughney 1-4 (0-3 frees); N. Bergin, B. Maher 0-1 each.

LIMERICK: G. Flynn; R. Kennedy, L. Hurley, T. Condon; J. Kelly, D. Moloney, S. Hickey; J. Ryan, D. Hanley; D. O'Connor, D. Moore, B. O'Sullivan; D. O'Sullivan, E. Ryan, G. O'Mahony. Subs. R. McCarthy for Kennedy; B. Quinn for Hanley.

TIPPERARY: M. Ryan; D. Patterson, E. Costello, P. Hayes; T. Stapleton, R. McLoughney, PJ Troy; K. Lanigan, N. Bergin; J. Ryan, D. O'Hanlon, C. McGrath; J. McLoughney, K. Reade, P. Ivors. Subs: B. Maher for Reade; T. Dalton for McGrath; P. Burke for J. Ryan.

Referee:G. Hoey (Clare).

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