Since losing to Waterford in their first outing in April, the Premier County have beaten Clare, Cork, and now Limerick — who beat Waterford in the semi-finals — with each game providing an injection of confidence.
This was a procession by the end as they powered past 14-man Limerick, as they had in effecting a second-half turnaround in the semi-final against Cork.
Even so, Tipp manager Liam Cahill was pleasantly surprised with the winning margin.
“We prepared really well for this, we said we’d leave no stone unturned. Even leading up to the win in Cork, we seemed to be gathering great momentum.
“The panel became really competitive in the last six to eight weeks and I’m just thrilled for the players. Confidence is huge, we’ve rotated the squad, everyone thinks they have a chance of playing. It’s a competitive environment and it has to be.”
Five consecutive first-half points helped Tipp to push clear and open up an 0-11 to 0-4 lead, despite Lyndon Fairbrother showing up well as Limerick, playing with the strong wind, employed a sweeper system. Though Conor Nicholas covered well in the role, the disparity in manpower further out the field invited too much pressure.
Had Limerick captain Kyle Hayes not been denied by a good Ciarán Barrett save when Tipp led by 0-6 to 0-3, the Shannonsiders might have settled but instead they were always playing catch-up and Jake Morris’s second point left Tipp 0-13 to 0-7 in front at half-time.
Hayes reduced the gap on the resumption but then Tipp struck again. Midfielder Paddy Cadell was the architect of Morris’s goal, a drilled shot low to the corner.
A Fairbrother free followed quickly while first-half sub Dylan Walsh continued to make his presence felt when landing his second score.
It meant that they led by 10 points and Limerick’s task became more challenging after the loss of corner-back Brian Nash to a second yellow card.
Morris and Walsh remained to the fore as Tipp continued to clock up the points while captain Brian McGrath drilled over a couple of late frees. Bigger tests await in Croke Park, but the ability to power on late in games will be a big advantage.
“I said it after the Cork win, I just can’t say enough about what Michael Bevans as coach does with these guys,” Cahill said. “He’s a remarkable man, he’s able to get the message across to these young men and they buy into everything he wants them to do. I’m very lucky to have a great backroom team, I just hope now that we can kick on into the last four and hopefully the final.”
Limerick manager Pat Donnelly was downcast after the game, feeling that his team had never got to grips with it.
“Bitterly disappointed, words won’t describe how we feel at the moment,” said Donnelly.
“We didn’t get into the game, I think the occasion got to us. We were beaten on the day by a better team, we’ve no excuses.
“We never settled and I felt that it wasn’t happening in too many positions, you can only patch up so much. It’s no reflection on the lads, we did everything beforehand that we could do, what happened on the day just happened.”
J. Morris 1-4, L. Fairbrother 0-7 (3 frees), D. Walsh, B. McGrath (2 frees) 0-3, G. Browne, M. Kehoe, 0-2 each, R. Doody, C. English, S. Neville 0-1 each.
P. O’Brien 0-3 (frees), K. Hayes, C. Boylan 0-2 each, J. Flynn, A. Kennedy (free), C. Magnier Flynn 0-1 each.
C. Barrett (Clonmel Óg); J Cahill (Kilruane MacDonaghs), M. Whelan (Carrick Davins), K. O’Dwyer (Killenaule); T. Murphy (J.K. Brackens), B. McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), C. Flanagan (Newport); P. Cadell (J.K. Brackens), G. Browne (Knockavilla Donaskeigh Kickhams); C. Darcy (Kilruane MacDonaghs), J. Morris (Nenagh Éire Óg), R Doody (Cappawhite); C. English (Fr Sheehys), M. Kehoe (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), L. Fairbrother (J.K. Brackens).
D. Walsh (Ballingarry) for English (27), S Neville (Lattin-Cullen) for Darcy (50), C Stakelum (Thurles Sarsfields) for Doody (53), G. Dunne (Holycross-Ballycahill) for Flanagan (60), K. Breen (Knockavilla Donaskeigh Kickhams) for Murphy (60).
M. O’Kelly (Croom); B. Nash (South Liberties), R. Conneely (Adare); B. Timmons (Murroe-Boher); J. Adams (Ballybrown), F. Hourigan (Murroe-Boher); M. O’Grady (Knockainey); J. Flynn (Patrickswell), D. Carroll (Newport); B. Ryan (South Liberties), K. Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), C. Boylan (Na Piarsaigh); P. O’Brien (Mungret-St Paul’s), C. Magnier Flynn (Killeedy), C. Nicholas (Monaleen).
J. Boylan (Na Piarsaigh) for Timmons (19), D. Woulfe (Kilmallock) for Ryan, A. Kennedy (Murroe-Boher) for O’Brien (both 35), C. McCarthy (Kilmallock) for Adams (40), A. Barrett (Kilmallock) for O’Grady (53).
R. McGann (Clare).