Tipperary brush Limerick aside

A finely-tuned Tipperary side had little difficulty in disposing of Limerick in the ESB Munster MHC semi-final at Semple Stadium last night and set up a final meting with Cork on the last Sunday in June.

There was never going to be a repeat of what happened to Tipp in Kilmallock 12 months ago when they were roundly beaten by the Shannonsiders at the same stage of the championship. Hurling with supreme confidence, Tipp, apart from two brief periods in the game, were never in any real danger.

Limerick got off to a dream start when Shane O’Donnell pulled down James Carroll’s cross before coolly slotting home a goal after just 50 seconds. But they flattered to deceive as Tipp began to sparkle. Hurling with tremendous skill and pace, they hit 1-8 without reply and had one leg in the final after 10 minutes.

Niall Bergin began the Tipperary scoring spree with a point, impressive Shane Hennessy added another before Pa Bourke set up Bergin for a peach of a goal, all in the space of five minutes.

Tipp were rampant all over the field, with Niall Bergin sparkling at centre-forward and Joey McLoughney lording it at midfield. Limerick laboured in everything they did, although they did score a second goal, against the run of play in the 20th minute when Michael Ryan, easily their best forward, first timed the sliotar to the net.

The Tipp forwards made it very difficult for the Limerick defence and it came as no surprise when they grabbed a second goal, Tony Dunne blasting home to leave his side comfortable in front, 2-12 to 2-5, at the break.

Limerick needed an early goal after the break if they were to have any chance but it was the home side who continued to do the scoring, adding two quick points to give the visitors an even bigger mountain to climb.

Limerick battled very hard to stay in contention, but they were completely reliant on Michael Ryan for scores and he didn’t disappoint.

He knocked over two points before latching on to Denis O’Connor’s long range free to kick home his second and Limerick’s third goal. They were still in with a chance as the deficit was just seven points by the end of the third quarter.

However, Tipperary always had the ability to raise their game and they were back in the comfort zone with three points in-a-row. The home side could afford to take off four players and still remain totally on top as substitute Michael Gleeson knocked over two points to stake a claim for a place in the final.

Limerick’s failure stemmed from their inability to get any distance into their striking and a failure to mark tightly in defence, but it was no fault of Cian Cagney, Denis O’Connor, Shane O’Donnell and Michael Ryan that they were beaten.

Scorers: Tipperary: N. Bergin 1-3; J. McLoughney 0-5 (0-3 frees); T. Dunne 1-1; S. Hennessy 0-4; S. Callanan, P. Bourke (0-1 free) 0-3 each; E. Hogan, M. Gleeson 0-2 each. Limerick: M. Ryan 2-4 (0-1 free); S. O’Donnell 1-1; D. O’Connor 0-2 (frees); T. Ryan 0-1.

TIPPERARY: J. Ryan; M. Cahill, P. Fitzgerald, J. O’Keeffe; E. Hogan, T. Stapleton, W. O’Dwyer; J. McLoughney, B. Maher; S. Hennessy, N. Bergin, G. Ryan; S. Callinan, T. Dunne, P. Bourke.

Subs. N. Gleeson for Fitzgerald; S. Bourke for Bergin; N. McGrath for G. Ryan; D. Mahere for O’Keeffe.

LIMERICK: N. Quaid; P. Behan, C. Cagney, J. Riordan; P. O’Brien, B. Quinn, B. Moloney; D. O’Connor, G. Collins; J. Carroll, S. O’Donnell, D. Quaid; M. Ryan, T. Ryan, T. O’Brien.

Subs. D. Walsh for Carroll; T. Crawford for T. O’Brien; E. O’Brien for D. O’Connor.

Referee: C. McAllister (Cork).

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