Tipperary 4-15 Limerick 2-18: Tipperary manager Liam Cahill admitted his side got out of jail in last night’s Electric Ireland Munster minor hurling championship quarter-final – as Niall Hoctor netted in the second minute of stoppage time to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The visiting Shannonsiders had come from eight points down to lead by two with time running out. But Tipp, drawing on all of their reserves of character, scored 1-2 in stoppage time to advance to a provincial semi-final at the end of June.
Limerick had an 11-point haul from Paul O’Brien but that ultimately proved in vain as Tipp repeated last year’s Munster and All-Ireland final victories over the same opposition.
But there was an over- riding feeling leaving Semple Stadium last night that these two sides could meet again later in the season.
Cahill admitted: “I can’t but feel a sense of luck tonight, to be honest. I thought Limerick, after five or 10 minutes of the second-half, totally took over the middle third of the field and we found it very difficult to get a handle on it with Paul O’Brien playing deep and creating this overlap.
“I’m sure Limerick will go home tonight thinking they should have got something from the game.”
At half-time, Tipperary led by 2-10 to 1-8, and it was another run of 1-2 before the end of the half that opened up that lead. Limerick had come from six points down in the first-half to draw level at 1-8 apiece, Dylan O’Shea netting in the 27th minute to restore parity.
Tipp scored the opening goal of the game in the sixth minute through Conor McCarthy, a late call-up to the starting line-up, and that effort helped the hosts to lead by 1-7 to 0-4 by the 16th minute, in front of a 2,567 attendance. But Limerick, managed by John Mulqueen, were resilient and worked their way back into contention, before conceding a sucker-punch goal to Andrew Ormond in the third minute of stoppage time.
Tipp opened the second-half in blistering fashion as sub Willie Barry goaled just 16 seconds after the restart, moving Cahill’s boys eight points clear.
But Limerick dug in again and worked their way back, O’Shea grabbing his second goal in the 34th minute before, with time running out, that man O’Brien put over a free to level the scores at 2-16 to 3-13.
O’Brien had pointed two frees to ensure stalemate and he put over a nerveless 65 and another free to move the visitors into a 2-18 to 3-13 lead.
But Tipp had their own kick left and points from Anthony McKelvey (free) and Jake Morris, tormentor of Limerick twice last year, levelled matters for the fourth time.
Just when it seemed that extra-time was on the cards, Conor Bowe picked out Hoctor and he made no mistake to pinch victory for Tipp.
Scorers for Tipperary:
C McCarthy 1-3, A McKelvey 0-5 (4f), A Ormond 1-1, W Barry & N Hoctor 1-0 each, C Bowe & J Morris 0-2 each, K Breen & C Bourke 0-1 each.
Scorers for Limerick:
P O’Brien 0-11 (7f, 1 65), D O’Shea 2-2, D Woulfe 0-3, D Minehan & R Connolly 0-1 each.
E Collins; M Purcell, M Feehan, J Cahill; C Morgan, P Cadell, J Gunne; K Breen, B O’Mara; C Bowe, J Morris, C McCarthy; D Woods, A McKelvey, A Ormond.
W Barry for Woods (h.t.), C Bourke for McCarthy (inj., 40), B Murphy for Gunne (46), N Hoctor for Ormond (57)
B Curtin; C Flahive, C McNicholas, C Barry; M O’Brien, J Boylan, D Minehan; M O’Grady, R Duff; P O’Riordan, P O’Brien, D Woulfe; R Tobin, R Connolly, D O’Shea.
K Byrnes for Tobin (46), P Maher for Minehan (56), B O’Grady for O’Riordan (60+2).
Nathan Wall (Cork).
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