Tipperary 2-16 Limerick 2-18
Munster champions Limerick have shocked Tipperary for a second successive season in the Munster Senior Hurling Championship.
The Shannonsiders repeated last year’s semi-final victory over the Premier County at the Gaelic Grounds with a seismic win in Thurles this afternoon.
Three points clear approaching the finish, Tipp looked on course to avenge that 2013 defeat and hand Eamon O’Shea a first championship win as manager.
But instead, Tipp slumped to a fourth successive championship loss as Shane Dowling, scorer of 2-9 (1-9 from placed balls), whipped home a sensational equalising goal in the 68th minute.
Sub Thomas Ryan hit the lead score for TJ Ryan’s battlers in the first minute of stoppage time before Seamus Hickey, playing his first competitive game since suffering cruciate knee ligament in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, strode forward to bang over the insurance score.
It was a quite remarkable end to a game that finally flickered into life during a second half that was level five times.
Gearóid Ryan’s early second half goal handed hosts Tipperary the whip hand in front of 24,962 spectators but Limerick came roaring back to restore parity.
Tipp pushed two points clear, with Lar Corbett slotting over a point after coming on as a sub down the home stretch, before Limerick had Graeme Mulcahy’s goal ruled out as ref Barry Kelly had blown for a foul by Dowling on Pádraic Maher.
Denis Maher pushed Tipp three points clear but there was still time for that late, late drama as never say die Limerick claimed a first championship victory over Tipp in Thurles since 1973.
Incredibly, this was Limerick’s first Munster championship victory of any description at the famed Thurles venue since 1997 as this group of Limerick players continues to write fresh history.
Limerick will now play Cork, Waterford or Clare in the provincial decider on July 13 as they look to retain their provincial crown.
And although Tipp were installed as pre-match favourites, this was a magnificently resolute display from a Limerick side rocked just a number of weeks ago by the loss of joint-manager Donal O’Grady.
At half-time, the sides were deadlocked at 1-8 apiece, with Limerick’s leading scorer Shane Dowling and Tipperary bulwark Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher trading goals.
It was Dowling who struck first in the 17th minute to establish a 1-3 to 0-3 lead for the Shannonsiders.
The Na Piarsaigh hitman buried a 20m free after Tipperary captain Brendan Maher fouled Declan Hannon as the Limerick forward advanced on goal.
But four minutes later, Tipperary responded with a goal of their own as Maher slipped a shot underneath Nickie Quaid following good initial work from the industrious Gearóid Ryan, Seamus Callanan and Kieran Bergin.
It was a badly needed boost for Tipp, who had trailed by 0-4 to 1-5 at the time, but the Shannonsiders hit back to lead by four points, 1-8 to 1-4.
Tipp’s response was good as a point from O’Dwyer was followed by three from Callanan (including two frees) to ensure parity at the break.
TIPPERARY: D Gleeson; C Barrett, Pádraic Maher, M Cahill; J Barry, B Maher, C O’Mahony; K Bergin, S McGrath; G Ryan (1-2), N McGrath (0-1), N O’Meara (0-1); J O’Dwyer, (0-5, 1f) S Callanan (0-5, 3f), Patrick Maher (1-0).
Subs: L Corbett (0-1) for Barry (54), D Maher (0-1) for O’Meara (62), C O’Brien for Cahill (65), S Bourke for O’Dwyer (68), T Stapleton for S McGrath (70).
LIMERICK: N Quaid; T Condon, R McCarthy, S Hickey (0-1); P O’Brien, W McNamara, G O’Mahony; J Ryan, P Browne (0-1); D Hannon (0-1), D O’Grady (0-2), S Dowling (2-9, 1-9f); G Mulcahy (0-1), K Downes (0-2), S Tobin.
Subs: T Ryan (0-1) for Tobin (61), M Ryan for Mulcahy (70+2).
Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath).