Two days later, Tipperary will still be feeling the effects of this tussle. Limerick are back and Tipperary know it.
Match-winner Jason Forde himself experienced a wound in the warm-up, which required attention during Amhrán na bhFiann, but it didn’t stop him giving yet another piece of evidence that he is ready to become the player he had so long promised to be.
The two additional-time goals in his 2-11 contribution swung the game firmly in the favour of Tipperary and they led 2-28 to 0-29 after the first 10-minute period. Seizing on a Nicky Quaid mistake for the first goal and poking in the second as the Limerick defence struggled to clear their lines, Graeme Mulcahy’s goal in the 87th minute was the visitors’ response to Forde’s first-half scores. Tom Morrissey did have another three-point chance but shot straight at Daragh Mooney and so Tipperary had a second successive Division 1 final to look forward to.
Forde, who was well able to mix it with the Limerick backs too, is doing everything to convince Michael Ryan that he is worthy of leading the attack from full-forward this summer but the manager was keeping tight-lipped. “Jayo has been there or thereabouts within our match-day 20 over the last number of years. He has just reached a time. He has won his Fitzgibbons. He has been a main player for UL and I just saw a change in Jayo that he really wants more out of this season. Nothing is promised, you can only offer yourself up and do the work. But he has certainly done the work and that has showed in spades here over the course of the last six or seven games.”
In front of a 12,006 crowd in Thurles, Tipperary never trailed but Limerick chomped into their series of four-point leads in both halves of regulation-time. It was no wonder Kiely, as animated as he was on the sideline, wasn’t so upset afterward. He knew the difference was Tipperary taking their chances and Limerick not being able to do so, their 11 normal wides standing out whereas the home side didn’t hit a wide until the 33rd minute. “Their accuracy was unerring,” he noted. “They struck the ball extremely well. They were very accurate. Were it not for that, we would have been up half-time (Tipperary led 0-12 to 0-10). I’m delighted with the boys’ performance. I thought they showed massive resilience, they refused to go away even seven points down. In the second period of added time, we still brought it back to a goal and had a couple of chances to get the ball around the house.
“I’m mighty proud of the lads; they’ve had a fantastic league campaign. To get out of 1B and up to 1A was huge for us. To win a quarter-final against Clare has been a nice one to get to the semi. We would have liked to have made the final, absolutely, but it wasn’t to be this year. But I think we learned an awful lot from the last three matches.”
Regulation-time was bereft of goal chances other than a first-half scare for Tipperary when an impressive Alan Flynn snuffed out a through ball from Tom Morrissey to Aaron Gillane. Tipperary stretched into another four-point lead in the final 10 minutes of regulation-time with three on the trot including a majestic Ronan Maher sideline cut from 70 metres. They still led by four with over 66 minutes gone on the clock but Limerick were not done, Cian Lynch adding two of four scores to tie matters up. The equaliser came from Tom Morrissey who, despite shipping a heavy blow, had the composure to fire over the resultant free.
Ryan knew Limerick would present a sticky wicket but then Tipperary are a team in progress. “There is a lot of working on up at training. We are still waiting to get a couple of players back. It’s been that kind of league though, it’s been match to match to match and we don’t get a huge amount of daylight time. It’s changed since last weekend, we had that extra bit of daylight. Even this week ahead it’s going to be more about getting ready for a league final.”
J. Forde (2-11, 0-8 frees); R. Maher (2 sidelines), J. McGrath (0-5 each); M. Breen, S. Curran (0-3 each); B. Heffernan, W. Connors, B. McCarthy, J. O’Dwyer (0-1 each).
A. Gillane (0-7, 4 frees, 2 65s); T. Morrissey (0-6, 4 frees); G. Mulcahy (1-1); S. Flanagan, K. Hayes, G. Hegarty (1 sideline) (0-3 each); C. Lynch (0-2); B. Murphy, D. Morrissey, P. Browne, D. Byrnes, B. Nash, D. Reidy (0-1 each).
D. Mooney; A. Flynn, J. Barry, M. Cahill; B. Heffernan, Pádraic Maher (c), T. Hamill; S. Kennedy, R. Maher; J. McGrath, B. McCarthy, S. Curran; M. Breen, J. Forde, W. Connors.
B. Maher for T. Hamill (h-t); J. O’Dwyer for B. McCarthy (46); C. Barrett for S. Kennedy (66); D. Maher for B. Heffernan (70+2); M. Russell for W. Connors (78); C. Darcy for M. Breen (89); S. O’Brien for R. Maher (90+1).
N. Quaid; S. Finn, S. Hickey, R. English; D. Byrnes, D. Hannon (c), D. Morrissey; C. Ryan, C. Lynch; G. Hegarty, K. Hayes, T. Morrissey; A. Gillane, S. Flanagan, B. Murphy.
P. Browne for C. Ryan (h-t); P. Ryan for B. Murphy (50); G. Mulcahy for S. Flanagan (60); B. Nash for A. Gillane (inj 61); D. Reidy for G. Hegarty (84); P. O’Loughlin for D. Byrnes (86).
J. Keenan (Wicklow).