Yesterday’s All-Ireland final performance from Liam Cahill’s young charges didn’t produce seven goals, didn’t produce 25 scores, nor did it produce a 17-point winning margin.
What it did produce was a positive result. And that is what Tipperary came for. Victory is all they wanted. It’s all they’ve wanted for the past 12 months.
“The plan since the start of the year was redeeming ourselves. We’ve done that,” said half-forward Colin English in reference to last year’s final defeat.
Their opponents, too, were chasing redemption of their own. Pat Donnelly’s Limerick side were swatted aside in the Munster decider. Taken for 1-24 on their own patch. Embarrassed.
The record needed to be set straight. And as Donnelly alluded to afterwards, his charges could depart GAA HQ with their heads held high.
The Treaty youngsters hassled, harried and applied a level of pressure on the Tipperary forwards that was so sorely lacking in that dreadfully one-sided Munster final in early July. And for a brief spell, they looked capable of chucking the form book into the fire.
For the opening 20 minutes or so, mind, both sides kept rigidly to said book.
Brian Ryan’s opening score was followed by three from Tipperary. Darragh Carroll’s second for Limerick was followed by a second three-point Tipperary burst.
Another Brian Ryan effort gave rise to two in quick succession from Lyndon Fairbrother (free) and Jake Morris — the Tipperary pair already with five white flags between them. The favourites ahead by 0-8 to 0-3. As we expected.
The underdogs then decided they’d had enough for one summer of being dictated to by Michael Whelan, Brian McGrath, Jerome Cahill — the Tipperary half-back played the sweeper role superbly, Morris and Fairbrother.
The excellent Brian Ryan clipped three on the hop. Centre-back Ciarán O’Connor horsed Colin English out over the end line and Conor Boylan split the posts from the ensuing puck-out. The green corner grew noisy, boisterous.
Sub Shane Neville provided a steadying score for the favourites. Brian Ryan replied, his sixth of the half. 0-9 to 0-8 at half-time in Tipperary’s favour, but as for the big M; that was Limerick’s.
A Colin English point early in the second-half made sure Limerick would have to work that bit harder to draw level and their task was furthered heightened when Morris, set up by Mark Kehoe, angled a low effort into the bottom right corner of Mark O’Kelly’s goal on 34 minutes. Tipperary ahead by five once more. Limerick deflated.
To their credit, they didn’t fold as had been the case on July 10. Ryan (free), Ciarán O’Connor, Kyle Hayes and Paul O’Brien tallied four of the next six scores to bring it back to a three-point game (1-12 to 0-12).
In the passage of play prior to O’Brien’s score, Kyle Hayes had galloped through the centre of the Premier defence. As the blue and gold shirts closed in and the space narrowed, Hayes elected to bat the sliotar but his effort flashed wide.
It was their second missed goal opportunity, with ‘keeper Ciarán Barrett producing a fine save to keep out Conor Boylan’s first-half effort. O’Brien did create a half-chance in the final quarter, but that too was sent the wrong side of the post. Whelan and company pulled the shutters down thereafter and no further goal openings were created or presented.
English, Kehoe and Fairbrother flung over the next three scores and as the gap moved out to six turning the final bend, a sense of inevitability washed over proceedings. Neville, Dylan Walsh, Ger Browne, Fairbrother (free) and Kehoe closed it out.
“You can’t complain when you win an All-Ireland,” said manager Liam Cahill.
“The manner in which we did it left a bit to be desired on the day considering the standard we had set coming into today and the expectation levels that were out there from Tipperary people.”
No, this wasn’t as pretty as previous Sundays. Mind you, the silverware collected is more than adequate compensation.
J Morris (1-3); L Fairbrother (0-5, 0-4 frees); C English (0-4); S Neville (0-3); B McGrath (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 ’65), M Kehoe (0-2); D Walsh, G Browne (0-1 each).
B Ryan (0-11, 0-9 frees); C O’Connor, D Carroll, C Boylan, K Hayes, D Woulfe, P O’Brien (0-1 each).
C Barrett (Clonmel Óg); K O’Dwyer (Killenuale), M Whelan (Carrick Davins), T Murphy (JK Brackens); C Flanagan (Newport), B McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), J Cahill (Kilruane MacDonaghs); P Cadell (JK Brackens), G Browne (Knockavilla Donaskeigh Kickhams); R Doody (Cappawhite), J Morris (Nenagh Éire Óg), C English (Fr Sheehy’s); L Fairbrother (JK Brackens), C Darcy (Kilruane MacDonaghs), M Kehoe (Kilsheelan Kilcash).
S Neville (Lattin Cullen) for Doody (26 mins); G Dunne (Holycross-Ballycahill) for Murphy (36); D Walsh (Ballingarry) for Darcy (51); C Stakelum (Thurles Sarsfields) for Browne (61).
M O’Kelly (Croom); B Nash (South Liberties), C Nicholas (Monaleen), R Connolly (Adare); J Adams (Ballybrown), C O’Connor (Kilmallock), F Hourigan (Murroe/Boher); J Boylan (Na Piarsaigh), D Carroll (Newport); M O’Grady (Knockainey), A Barrett (Kilmallock), B Ryan (South Liberties); C Boylan (Na Piarsaigh), K Hayes (Kildimo/Pallaskenry), C Magner-Flynn (Killeedy).
P O’Brien (Mungret/St Paul’s) for Magner-Flynn (34); J Flynn (Patrickswell) for Carroll (36); D Woulfe (Kilmallock) for Barrett (42); M Bourke (Garryspillane) for Adams (44); D Quirke (Clonoulty Rossmore) for Flanagan (51); C O’Grady (Hospital/Herbertstown) for M O’Grady (60).
J Keenan (Wicklow)