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storm force Limerick turn on the style as All-Ireland champs Tipperary left swingin' in the rain

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Tom Morrissey of Limerick in action against Seán O'Brien of Tipperary during the Munster hurling  semi-final

Tom Morrissey of Limerick in action against Seán O'Brien of Tipperary during the Munster hurling semi-final

Tom Morrissey of Limerick in action against Seán O'Brien of Tipperary during the Munster hurling semi-final

LIMERICK 3-23 TIPPERARY 2-17

Reigning Munster champions, Limerick, kept their title defence well on track with a stunning dismissal of Liam MacCarthy Cup holders, Tipperary, at a storm-lashed Pairc Ui Chaoimh today.

A 74th minute Seamus Flanagan goal was the icing on the cake as they ran out commanding nine-point winners en route to a provincial final tilt against Waterford in two weeks' time.

John Kiely’s men always looked dominant in this battle of the last two All-Ireland champions, cementing their position as favourites to get their hands on the MacCarthy Cup in December.

But the game, played in appalling conditions of heavy rain being swept from the town-end goal on near 50kmph winds, was a travesty in parts. Playing into that storm, long deliveries were pointless.

Accordingly, it suited Limerick’s structured, short-passing game, moving the ball through the lines with off-the-shoulder runners and short, precise passing off the hurley.

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Tipp's Séamus Callanan bursts through the Limerick cover

Tipp's Séamus Callanan bursts through the Limerick cover

Tipp's Séamus Callanan bursts through the Limerick cover

Intriguingly, the reigning Munster champions lined out with Kyle Hayes in an unfamiliar wing-back spot and Cian Lynch pushed forward to the ‘forty’.

They led 1-17 to 1-8 before having to turn into that tempest and, commanding though the lead seemed, it was a moot point if it would be sufficient against a Tipp team presumably certain to now attack their makeshift full-back line.

Those first-half goals had been compressed into an extraordinary 30-second spell. First, some wonderful vision from Tipp captain, Seamus Callanan, put Jake Morris in for a 19th minute goal. But Liam Sheedy’s men seemed to lose concentration on Nickie Quaid’s puck-out and, seconds later, Aaron Gillane had kicked the yellow sliotar past Brian Hogan in the Tipp goal.

That score restored Limerick’s five point advantage (1-10 to 1-5) and, not unexpectedly, they kicked on from there, winning the remainder of the half 0-7 to 0-3 to arrive at the break with a nine points advantage.

In normal circumstances, that would have meant they were already half-way home, but this wasn’t normal. Anything but.

Tipp needed to by-pass that congested middle third where Limerick’s physicality seems un-matchable. If they could do that, Callanan might just be the man to wreak havoc inside.

That said, the game looked over when Gillane buried a 46th minute penalty after Gearoid Hegarty had been hauled down by Cathal Barrett.

Tipp, though, were thrown a 54th minute lifeline when referee, Liam Gordan, allowed a John McGrath goal to stand despite his brother, Noel, seeming to pick the sliotar off the ground before off-loading.

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Tom Morrissey of Limerick is tackled by Tipp's Cathal Barrett

Tom Morrissey of Limerick is tackled by Tipp's Cathal Barrett

Tom Morrissey of Limerick is tackled by Tipp's Cathal Barrett

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That was as good as it got, though, for Liam Sheedy’s men, who ended the day with their captain, Callanan, held scoreless. Quite the turnaround for a man who goaled in each of Tipp’s eight games en route to last year’s title.

The defeat is a crushing blow to Tipp in their efforts to secure back-to-back All-Irelands for the first time since 1965, Sheedy’s men now pitched into tomorrow morning’s All-Ireland qualifier draw.

SCORERS: Limerick – A Gillane 2-6 (1-0 pen, 0-5 frees), S Flanagan 1-1, D Byrnes 0-3 (0-2 frees), C Lynch, W O’Donoghue, G Hegarty, T Morrissey and G Mulcahy 0-2 each, P Casey, P Ryan and D Reidy 0-1 each. Tipperary – J Forde 0-10 (all frees), J Morris 1-1, J McGrath 1-0, N McGrath 0-2, B Maher, A Flynn, N O’Meara and M Breen 0-1 each.


LIMERICK: N Quaid, S Finn, D Morrissey, B Nash, D Byrnes, D Hannon, D O’Donovan, C Lynch, W O’Donoghue, G Hegarty, K Hayes, T Morrissey, G Mulcahy, A Gillane, P Casey. Subs – D Reidy for T Morrissey (57 mins), S Flanagan for Mulcahy (59 mins), P Ryan for O’Donovan (63 mins), D Dempsey for Hegarty (69 mins).


TIPPERARY: B Hogan, C Barrett, B Heffernan, S O’Brien, R Maher, B Maher, Padraic Maher, N McGrath, A Flynn, M Kehoe, J Forde, N O’Meara, J McGrath, S Callanan, J Morris. Subs – M Breen for Kehoe (45 mins), J Maher for Padraic Maher (50 mins), D McCormack for O’Meara (54 mins), J O’Dwyer for Morris (61 mins), P Cadell for Heffernan (68 mins).


Referee - L Gordan (Galway)


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