Limerick step it up after goal blitz

Limerick 0-16 Tipperary 3-5

Tipperary lost their way for most of the second-half after being reduced to 14 players and indeed were flattered by the scoreline.

The Shannonsiders erased the memory of their narrow defeat by Kerry in the league semi-final and, on the evidence of this performance, are clear favourites to overcome Waterford at the Gaelic Grounds in the semi-final in a month's time.

They recovered well from the early goal blitz to serve up a fine performance and showed the benefit of competing in the higher league grade, a fact not lost on Tipperary coach Andy Shortall, who put his side's defeat down to not competing at the same league level as their opponents.

Tipperary got off a dream start with two goals in as many minutes.

The first came in the fifth minute after Stephen Kelly lost possession in the Tipp square following the first of many great runs.

The ball was swept down to Declan Browne who showed marvellous vision to pick out Aidan Fitzgerald in behind the defence and he gave the Limerick 'keeper no chance from close range.

Limerick had hardly time to draw their breath when Tipperary struck again, this time Browne stroking home a goal after the Limerick defence failed to clear.

Unfortunately, Tipp were unable to build on those early goals and Limerick settled to play some great controlled football.

They had the deficit down to two points by the end of the opening quarter with a succession of points, two of them by the impressive Eoin Keating.

Limerick dominated at midfield through John Quane and John Galvin and had the Tipperary defence under constant pressure. But in a breakaway attack, the underdogs rocked the Shannonsiders with a third goal in the 27th minute.

There appeared to be no danger when Kevin Mulryan kicked a high ball across the goalmouth, with two Limerick defenders there to shepherd it to safety.

However, Paul Cahill, not the tallest member of the Tipp team, outjumped both before slotting the ball home. Limerick had it all to do again.

Limerick's response was immediate. With Stephen Kelly causing havoc with his surging runs and Muiris Gavin leading their attack in style, they knocked over four points without reply two superb efforts by Conor Mullane and Gavin to leave the minimum between the sides after 30 minutes.

Tipperary were in dire need of a score to stop the rot and Declan Browne came to the rescue with two late points, which left his side 3-3 to 0-9 in front at the interval.

Some straight talking was clearly done in the Limerick dressing room and they came out with all guns blazing. Seconds after the resumption Stephen Kelly was denied by a brilliant save by Tipp 'keeper Brian Enright.

Kelly continued to torment the Tipp defence with his surging runs and after he was grounded going through Muiris Gavin pointed the resulting free.

John Murphy added another and Limerick were level 10 minutes into the second-half when Gavin pointed his fifth free.

Tipp's cause was not helped by the loss of Glen Burke for a second yellow card offence, and they should have also lost Fergus O'Callaghan following a reckless challenge on Stephen Kelly shortly afterwards.

The fact that the midfielder didn't receive at least a yellow card, made a mockery of the nine yellows referee Maurice Deegan had earlier issued, some for the most trivial of reasons.

Using their numerical advantage to great effect, Limerick kept Damien Reidy in behind their half backline where he did a splendid mopping up job.

With John Galvin rampant at midfield, Limerick poured forward at every opportunity and, not surprisingly, hit the front for the first time on 56 minute.

It was fitting Stephen Kelly should score the lead point, after Muiris Gavin picked him out with an exquisite pass, and it looked to be plain sailing for Limerick from there to the finish after John Murphy and Gavin stretched their lead to three points with five minutes remaining.

Tipperary, to their credit, refused to throw in the towel and Declan Browne pointed a free their first score for 28 minutes and Limerick held that dreaded two point lead when it was announced three minutes were to be added.

After scoring three goals in the first-half, Tipp must have felt there was a fourth left in them, but a resolute Limerick defence held firm for a well merited victory.

Scorers: Limerick: M. Gavin 0-7 (0-5 frees); E. Keating 0-4 (0-1 free, 0-1 45); C. Fitzgerald 0-2; C. Mullane, J. Murphy, S. Kelly 0-1 each. Tipperary: D. Browne 1-4 (0-4 frees); A. Fitzgerald, P. Cahill 1-0 each; G. Burke 0-1.

LIMERICK: M. Jones; M. O'Riordan, J. McCarthy, T. Stack; C. Mullane, S. Lucey, D. Reidy; J. Galvin, J. Quane; S. Kelly, M. Gavin, M. O'Brien; C. Fitzgerald, J. Murphy, E. Keating. Subs. T. Carroll for Quane; M. Horan for Murphy; M. Reidy for Kelly.

TIPPERARY: B. Enright; B. Hahessy, S. Collum, N. Curran; R. Costigan, D. Byrne, G. Burke; K. Mulryan, F. O'Callaghan; L. England, A. Fitzgerald, M. Webster; P. Cahill, D. Browne, D. O'Brien. Subs. JP Looby for Webster; P. Halley for England; L. Cronin for Curran; J. Williams for Fitzgerald; D. Byrne for Cahill.

Referee: M. Deegan (Laois).

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