Cathal O’Neill provides spark for Limerick

Limerick 1-17 Tipperary 2-12: Limerick drew first blood at the Gaelic Grounds with a 1-17 to 2-12 win against Tipperary in the Munster Minor Hurling Championship yesterday.

Cathal O’Neill provides spark for Limerick

An incredible performance from half-forward Cathal O’Neill proved the difference — he finished with 0-11, seven of which came from play.

Tipperary had looked to be heading towards victory when two quickfire Sean Hayes goals put them 2-9 to 0-10 up on 49 minutes but Cormac Ryan’s goal got Limerick back into the contest and O’Neill’s class saw them home.

A wide count of 14 was one of the main reasons Tipperary lost out but Limerick’s clinical shooting and O’Neill’s class ensured the Shannonsiders open the campaign with a win.

The Premier County had settled quickest with James Devanney and Ryan Renehan points early on, with Limerick’s opening score coming from a Cathal O’Neill ’65.

Tipperary were the better side in that time but poor shooting ensured they only had a two-point lead at the break. Tommy Dunne’s side reached double figures in wides by 27 minutes.

Kian O’Kelly’s first of the game had Tipperary two in front after 11 minutes but Limerick continued to stay in touch with two O’Neill efforts seeing the game all square for the first time at the end of the first quarter.

Tipp had a great chance to create a gap between the teams through a Renehan penalty but his fierce strike was flicked over the bar by Limerick keeper Bryan Heavey.

Limerick were more confident after the break and went in front for the first time in the 44th minute, with O’Neill again leading the way.

The Premier hit back almost immediately with Hayes’ first goal. Padraig Harnett looked to have possession but lost it after a tackle and Hayes picked up the loose ball and fired past Heavey from close range.

The Tipperary half-forward was at it again 60 seconds later finishing off his second after a well-worked team move.

Limerick didn’t panic and moved back to within a point with seven minutes remaining thanks to Ryan’s bullet low finish to the net.

A long-range O’Neill free then levelled the contest for a fifth time and then he put Limerick ahead again with a fine effort from play.

Tipperary came back again with James Devanney’s second of the afternoon but O’Neill and Colin Coughlan saw Limerick home to an impressive two-point win.

Scorers for Limerick: Cathal O’Neill 0-11 (0-3 frees, 1 ’65), C Ryan (1-1), B Purcell, C Coughlin (0-2 each), B Nix (0-1).

Scorers for Tipperary: S Hayes (2-1), R Renehan (0-3 (0-1 pen, 0-1 s/l), J Devanney, K O’Kelly (0-2 each), J Ryan, J Campion, M Hackett, M O’Shea (0-1).

LIMERICK: B Heavey; P Harnett, B Herlihy, M Keane; E O’Mahony, E McEvoy, J Nicholas; D Kennedy, B O’Connor, C O’Neill, C Ryan, D Hegarty; C Coughlan, B Purcell, B Nix.

Subs: S Hurley for Kennedy (h-t), P Kirby for Hegarty (43), C Casey for O’Connor (55), D Riordan for Hurley (63), M Martin for Coughlan (65).

TIPPERARY: A Browne; C O’Dwyer, C Whelan, K Hayes; J Ryan, F Purcell F Hanafin; M Hackett, J Campion; S Hayes, D Ryan, K O’Kelly; J Lanigan, R Renehan, J Devanney.

Subs: M O’Shea for Lanigan (39), K Maher for Renehan (48), C O’Farrell for Ryan (55), E Purcell for O’Kelly (55).

Referee: N Wall (Cork)

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