Brian Ryan’s efficient minor outfit ended Tipperary’s reign as Electric Ireland Munster and All-Ireland minor champions in front of 3,314 spectators in Thurles last evening.
And now Limerick can claim championship victories over Tipp in both the senior and minor grades this summer. That’s no mean feat – particularly when you take into account Limerick haven’t contested a Munster minor hurling final since 2005, and haven’t won one since way back in 1984.
But Limerick hurling appears to be on the rise again and a powerful second-half display was good enough to account for a Tipp side that lined out with four players who started against Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland final replay.
But when Limerick turned up the heat in the second-half, on a glorious evening for hurling, Tipp had no answers. The hosts did lead at half-time 0-12 to 0-10 and that advantage was stretched to four by the 34th minute.
But leading scorer Ronan Lynch kick started a run of six points without reply to turn the game on its head and in the final 20 minutes, Limerick outscored Tipp 1-7 to 0-3.
The crucial score was the 53rd minute penalty that separated the teams at full-time. A deserved award if you’re a Limerick fan, harsh if your glasses were blue and gold tinted.
Thomas Morrissey, a 44th minute sub, did brilliantly to fetch a long delivery and when he came to ground, he was swallowed up by a couple of Tipp defenders. It seemed like an eternity as punters waited for referee Damien Fox to deliver his verdict and when he did, the Clare official decided to ignore Tipp claims that Morrissey was barging.
Lynch, scorer of 1-7, found the net and Limerick never looked back from there. The goal, incidentally, came less than a minute after Tipp had ended an 18-minute barren spell in the second-half, when Josh Keane pointed.
Keane, scorer of 2-9 when Tipp beat Waterford in the quarter-final 11 weeks ago, was one of the pivotal players before half-time. He scored 0-4, including three frees, in that first half as opposing centre forwards David Dempsey and Colin O’Riordan illuminate proceedings.
Dempsey scored three points, O’Riordan four, and some of the clean catching produced by the pair was worthy of the admission fee.
And it was Dempsey who scored arguably the best point of the game in the 20th minute when he volleyed Dean Coleman’s pass first time over the crossbar.
Scorers for Tipperary: J Keane 0-7 (4f), C O’Riordan 0-4, T Fox, W Connors, M McCarthy, S Conlon, C Lanigan & D Quinn 0-1 each.
Scorers for Limerick: R Lynch 1-7 (1-0 pen, 0-6f), D Dempsey 0-4, C Lynch 0-2, B Nash, D Coleman, P Ryan & T Morrissey 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY: B Hogan; R Mulcahy, J Ryan, D Peters; T Fox, R Maher, B Heffernan; W Connors, T Kirwan; C Lanigan, C O’Riordan, S Conlon; M McCarthy, J Keane, S Ryan.
Subs: T Nolan for Conlon (42), D Quinn for Lanigan (48), A Tierney for Peters (51), F O’Sullivan for Connors (57).
LIMERICK: C Ryan; J Porter, R English, S Finn; S Ryan, A La Touche Cosgrave, S Flanagan; J Butler, D Donovan; B Nash, R Lynch, C Lynch; D Coleman, D Dempsey, P Ryan.
Subs: G Whelan for Butler (39), T Morrissey for P Ryan (44).
Referee: Damien Fox (Clare).