ALL-IRELAND champions Tipperary crushed Limerick in this ESB Munster MHC semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday.
It was a powerful display by the Premier County and apart from the opening five minutes when they trailed by two points, there was never a hint of a home victory as the Tipperary forwards ran riot against a very weak Limerick defence.
Fielding six of last year’s winning team, Tipperary were strong in the key areas. Despite wet conditions, their hurling was far crisper and on the evidence of this are well capable of retaining their title.
Limerick opened the scoring, a point by Graham Mulcahy after 20 seconds but a cracking goal by Patrick Maher gave Tipp a lead they never relinquished.
The dominance of Noel McGrath, one of six of last year’s All-Ireland winning team, gave Tipp a grip at midfield and his forwards, John O’Neill and Patrick Maher thrived on a plentiful supply of ball.
A succession of well-taken points had Tipp 1-4 to 0-2 in front after 10 minutes. Limerick, bar Timmy O’Brien, struggled to make any impression in attack against a Tipperary defence led by Patrick Maher, John Coghlan and Michael Maher.
O’Brien landed two points in a row before Tipperary goaled a second time. A McGrath delivery broke to John O’Neill who cleverly picked out the unmarked Michael Heffernan. His powerful strike gave Tipperary a 2-11 to 0-6 half-time lead.
By the end of the third quarter, Tipp stretched their lead to 2-16 to 0-9. Patrick Maher fired his second goal to seal the win, Noel McGrath’s long ball was gathered by Maher an the big full forward fired home from 12 metres out.
Limerick’s Niall Maher landed four points from placed balls but Tipperary ran out the easiest of winners.
Scorers for Tipperary: S. Hennessy 0-7 (0-4 frees); P. Maher 2-1; J. O’Neill 0-5; B. Maher 0-4; M. Heffernan 1-1; N. McGrath 0-2; J. Barry 0-1.
Scorers for Limerick: N. Maher 0-7 (0-5 frees, 0-1 65); T. O’Brien 0-2; G. Mulcahy, P. O’Brien, S. Tobin 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY: J. Logue; K. O’Gorman, P. Maher, S. O’Brien; D. O’Connor, J. Coghlan, M. Cahill; N. McGrath, J. Gallagher; S. Hennessy, K. Lorrigan, B. Maher; M. Heffernan, P. Maher, J. O’Neill.
Subs: S. Carey for Lorrigan; J. Barry for McGrath; P. Acheson for B. Maher; D. O’Brien for O’Neill. P. O’Brien or M. Cahill.
LIMERICK: B. Hennessy, B. O’Connor, J. O’Riordan, P. Browne; E. Gleeson, N. Quaid, M. Deegan; B. O’Brien, G. Mulcahy; P. O’Brien, N. Maher, S. Madden; S. Tobin, G. Barron, T. O’Brien.
Subs: D. Lynch for B. O’Connor; CJ Power for Barron; E.. Fitzgibbon for Gleeson; T. O’Brien for P. O’Brien; D. Quaid for Madden.
Referee: C. Lyons (Cork).
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