With Kilkenny not exactly lighting up Cusack Park on Wednesday evening, it was left to Limerick to fire the first warning signal in the race for All-Ireland U21 glory.
With these two counties having contested the All-Ireland minor decider back in 2014, they, along with Cork, are rightly being viewed as the chief contenders for the main prize.
But before Limerick can begin to eye up the silverware last annexed by the county in 2015, they must first negotiate Munster.
And it was at this very hurdle where they fell last year, to the very opposition who were the visitors to the Gaelic Grounds yesterday evening.
Tipperary shocked Limerick 12 months ago but a repeat of that result never looked on the cards given the considerable daylight established between the sides as early as the fifth minute.
That Tipperary’s starting team contained not a single player who saw league or championship action for the county’s senior team in 2017 lay in stark contrast to the eight Limerick players currently part of John Kiely’s squad.
Seven of them featured during the Munster SHC semi-final against Clare two and a half weeks ago and it was these players who sped Limerick into the distance before their opponents were even on the board.
Cian Lynch and Colin Ryan clipped two of their opening three points before a superb Peter Casey catch put the wheels in motion for the game’s opening goal. Barry Nash’s shot didn’t cross the white paint, with Tom Morrissey on hand to finish the job.
Colin Ryan added his second point thereafter and within nine minutes, Limerick had gone 1-4 clear.
A further two minutes would pass before Mark Kehoe opened the visitors’ account. Indeed, were it not for his three-point haul, added to three Lyndon Fairbrother frees, Tipperary would have found themselves far worse off at half-time. And even at that, they still trailed by 2-12 to 0-8.
Pat Donnelly’s charges were much the sharper, with the Limerick attack, in particular, causing endless problems for a Tipp defence that was at sixes and sevens for the most part. The platform for their dominance arrived further back, with Kyle Hayes and Ronan Lynch excellent in the half-back line.
The latter clipped two superb points, while Hayes peppered the attack with a plethora of defence-unlocking deliveries. Sean Finn and Darragh Fanning, behind them, were equally impressive.
Barry Nash supplied their second goal on 16 minutes, rounding Emmett Moloney with consummate ease before firing past a hapless Brian Hogan.
Aaron Gillane, Barry Murphy, Lynch and Morrissey swelled their tally approaching the break.
They did benefit from mistakes by opposition defenders, with Tipperary players let down by their first touch on numerous occasions.
Their most productive spell arrived immediately upon the restart, with Fairbrother (0-3, two frees), Willie Connors and Ger Browne throwing over five of the opening six scores of the second-half. That cut the deficit to 2-13 to 0-13. They required a goal, however, but never looked like engineering one.
That was as close as they’d come, William Maher’s young troops outscored by 0-11 to 0-6 from there to the finish. Ger Browne, aside, they were comprehensively out-thought and out-hurled in the closing 20 minutes.
The winners were content to pick off their points at ease, with Aaron Gillane having notched seven frees and two from play by the time he was called ashore. Peter Casey, following a superb touch, swivel and point on 47 minutes, was the final member of the starting six forwards to write his name onto the scoresheet.
They’ll take stopping.
Scorers for Limerick:
A Gillane (0-9, 0-7 frees); T Morrissey (1-4); P Casey (0-3); B Nash (1-0); R Lynch, C Ryan, B Murphy (0-2 each); C Lynch, P Ahern (0-1 each).
Scorers for Tipperary:
L Fairbrother (0-4 frees), G Browne (0-5 each); M Kehoe (0-3); C Darcy (0-2, 0-2 frees); B McCarthy, W Connors, T Nolan, G O’Halloran (0-1 each).
E McNamara (Doon); S Finn (Bruff), D Fanning (Pallasgreen), D Joy (Kilmallock); R Lynch (Na Piarsaigh), K Hayes (Kildimo/Pallaskenry), J Adams (Ballybrown); R Hanley (Kilmallock), C Ryan (Pallasgreen); A Gillane (Patrickswell), C Lynch (Patrickswell), T Morrissey (Ahane); P Casey (Na Piarsaigh), B Nash (South Liberties), B Murphy (Doon).
C Boylan (Na Piarsaigh) for Hanley (40); T Grimes (Na Piarsaigh) for Adams (41); O’Reilly (Kilmallock) for Murphy (48); L Lyons (Monaleen) for Ryan (53); P Ahern (Killeedy) for Gillane (59).
B Hogan (Lorrha-Dorrha); P Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), E Moloney (Drom & Inch), K Hassett (Drom & Inch); R Byrne (Portroe), B McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), E Heffernan (Clonoulty-Rossmore); B McCarthy (Thurles Sarsfields), W Connors (Kildangan); M Kehoe (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), A Coffey (Nenagh Éire Óg), G Browne (Knocknavilla Donaskeigh Kickhams); D Gleeson (Ballinahinch), L Fairbrother (JK Brackens), S Quirke (Moyle Rovers).
M Whelan (Carrick Davins) for Maher (blood, 37-39); R Teehan (Gortnahoe-Glengoole) for Gleeson (42); T Nolan (Drom & Inch) for Connors, C Darcy (Kilruane McDonaghs) for Fairbrother (both 47); P Ryan (Toomevara) for McCarthy (53); G O’Halloran (Carrick Swan) for Heffernan (59).
C Lyons (Cork).
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