TIPPERARY stayed in their shells for 30 minutes of today’s Munster semi-final but for the remaining 40 minutes they produced polished, precision hurling to enjoy a 16-point win over Limerick.
It was more than enough to get them past their rivals, who had beaten them twice in successive years, and straight into a provincial decider against Waterford, the most improved team in the land.
For the opening 10 minutes, however, and indeed 20 after the restart, Tipp looked sleepy, off the pace even. But in between and after those dormant spells they showed enough to be deemed championship contenders again.
It was a day that All Star Darren Gleeson really came of age in the Tipp shirt with some spectacular saves, Jason Forde too. It was also an afternoon when Richie McCarthy was caught on the edge of the square and a game which showed that when the Tipp forwards knuckle down, produce a relentless work-rate and create space they look unstoppable. The moment those forwards stop working, however, they lose something.
After a slow start Tipp finally awoke and were far superior to their opponents for the remainder of the first half. Paudie Maher saw Declan Hannon pick up three points playing off him but yet Maher had the run of the park. Gleeson worked every puck out short and playing against a stiff breeze Tipp still le d by six at the break.
Bonner Maher hit 0-3 from play in the first 35, Seamus Callanan led Richie McCarthy on a dance and fired 2-2 off him in that time, while John O’Dwyer and Shane McGrath were also razor sharp.
Tipp had scored 2-11 against the breeze by the break. Limerick had five forwards who scored from play and yet they were winning no ball from their own puck outs. Their full back line, meanwhile, was taken apart.
Paul Browne came on for Limerick and Seamus Hickey took the task of marking Seamie Callanan after the restart. The home side upped the ante, forcing Gleeson into three great saves before Dowling sunk a penalty after 40 minutes to bring them within three points.
Jason Forde, Callanan (two) and O’Dwyer finally hit points to get their team into the second half and with 20 minutes left Tipp led by five points.
Soon after Jason Forde ran 30 metres to get on the end of a Bonner Maher pass and he goaled to kill the game. Their bottle had been questioned again but they hit 1-4 without reply and it was enough to quell those doubts.
Scorers: Tipperary: S Callanan (2-5, 0-1 ‘65, 0-1f), J O’Dwyer (0-7, 1’65), J Forde (1-3), Patrick Maher (0-3), M Breen (1-0) S McGrath (0-2), N O’Meara (0-1), J Woodlock (0-1), S Bourke (0-1). Limerick: S Dowling (1-7, 4f, 1-0 pen, 2 ‘65), D Hannon (0-3) D Breen (0-1), G O’Mahony (0-1), G Mulcahy (0-2), S O’Brien (0-1), D O’Grady (0-1)