Sylvester Hennessy: Limerick couldn’t handle Tipperary’s tackling intensity

Tipperary’s hunger to avoid a third straight defeat to Limerick in the championship manifested itself in a high-octane performance at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday. 

The difference between the Limerick and Tipperary collective tackle counts at the end of the game illustrated the desire and drive Eamonn O’Shea’s side possessed in a landslide 16-point win over their neighbours.

Tipperary put in 83 tackles, a figure that most inter-county managers would be satisfied with at this stage of the season. Limerick had a lowly tackle count of 57. This total might have sufficed in Division 1B but in the cut and thrust of Munster championship hurling, it was well below par.

It was surprising that Limerick failed to meet fire with fire on Sunday. This performance was reminiscent of their lukewarm display in their league quarter-final loss to Dublin in Croke Park.

On that occasion, Limerick managed just 42 tackles and this is an area where Limerick must improve dramatically to have ambitions of making a run through the qualifiers.

The Tipp management will be even more pleased when they break down the individual tackle tallies of players. Their top three tacklers on the day were the half-forward line of Jason Forde, Brendan Maher and Patrick Maher. The trio forced numerous turnovers and their work-rate led to some crucial scores, such as Seamus Callanan’s opening goal.

Crucially, Tipperary’s puck-out strategy worked like a dream in the first half, and especially during the crucial first 20 minutes.

In that time, Tipperary won 11/14 of their own puck outs and 9/13 of Limerick’s. Their overall tally of 20/27 puck-outs won in the opening 25 minutes was the foundation for this success.

Nevertheless, Eamon O’Shea will impressed that his side won only 3/11 of their own puck-outs in the second half. With the wind now at his back, Darren Gleeson chose to go long with his deliveries, but this tactic simply did not work. With Waterford in mind in the upcoming Munster final, Tipperary will need to have a serious look at their puck-out strategy.

Tipp’s game-plan did successfully manage to get key players plenty of the ball. John O’Dwyer and Padraic Maher had 15 possessions, Patrick Maher 14 and Seamus Callanan 12. Callanan and O’Dwyer’s ability to win possession on the edge of the square will be crucial to the Tipperary game-plan against Waterford.

Cork’s lack of a ball-winning target man backfired against Waterford in both the league final and Munster championship semi-final.

Most of the top hurling counties possess ball-winners in their full-forward line. Shane O’Donnell, Shane Dowling, TJ Reid, Joe Canning, Maurice Shanahan, Ciaran McDonald, Mark Schutte and Seamus Callanan are examples of the type of player that is required at full-forward in the modern game.

To defeat the Waterford ‘system’, Tipp will need their main men in the full-forward line to shine again.


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