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champions Stunning second-half comeback leaves Tipp reeling and seals three Munsters in a row for Limerick

Limerick 2-29 Tipperary.3-21

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Limerick captain Declan Hannon lifts the Munster Cup the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final win over Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Limerick captain Declan Hannon lifts the Munster Cup the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final win over Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Limerick captain Declan Hannon lifts the Munster Cup the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final win over Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

A sensational second half performance from champions Limerick gave them their first Munster SHC three-in-a-row since the 1930s as further confirmation of their superiority in the game manifested in a sweltering Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

Out of sorts in a first half which they finished 10 points down, 2-16 to 0-12, the same half-time margin as the 1996 Munster final replay between the counties at the same venue which Limerick also dug out, they were transformed after the break, delivering their best 35 minutes since their emergence as hurling's pre-eminent force three years ago.

Tipperary could never apply the same pressure as they had done in the opening 35 minutes and they wilted badly in the heat to suffer a third successive defeat in the province to Limerick, raising questions about whether they have got what it takes to topple the remorseless machine to their west.

Almost everything that could go wrong for Limerick in the first half did but they barely put a foot wrong after that.

In the third quarter alone they outscored Tipperary by 1-10 to 0-1, getting to the second water break 1-22 to 2-17 clear. Once Limerick got ahead, through Seamus Flanagan with his third point in the 53rd minute, Tipp sensed and played like the game was up.

Cian Lynch was instrumental in the comeback at centre-forward. Tipp had placed Dan McCormack as his shadow in the opening half to good effect but the Patrickswell man led the charge superbly and was involved in the creation of so many scores.

His club mate Aaron Gillane, left off the starting team, replaced Graeme Mulcahy late in the opening half and made a big contribution but was lucky to stay on the field when he reacted wildly to a foul on him by Cathal Barrett just after the restart. Referee Paud O'Dwyer produced a yellow when a red was more appropriate.

Gillane was heavily involved in Limerick's first goal, putting the pressure on Brendan Maher to help dispossess him on 42 minutes before taking the subsequent shot that Barry Hogan parried only for Seamus Flanagan to pounce.

That put Limerick just 2-16 to 1-15 in arrears and really gave them a scent of blood.

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Seámus Flanagan, left, and Diarmaid Byrnes of Limerick do a 'dab' celebration after the Munster SHC final win. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Seámus Flanagan, left, and Diarmaid Byrnes of Limerick do a 'dab' celebration after the Munster SHC final win. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Seámus Flanagan, left, and Diarmaid Byrnes of Limerick do a 'dab' celebration after the Munster SHC final win. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Limerick's second goal was another Kyle Hayes classic as he surged from his own half, stepped outside Brendan Maher, shook off McCormack and then with another dropped shoulder, scored a second goal in successive games. It was mindful of All-Black rugby legend Jonah Lomu scything through defences in his prime.

Limerick began winning battles everywhere. Dan Morrissey replaced Richie English as a blood sub and towered over Seamus Callanan, Peter Casey chipped in with five points while Flanagan contributed 1-3, his best effort in green yet.

Tipperary, so strong in the first half, got goals that were almost identical in their creation and execution, coming off their puck-outs with both Jake Morris and John O'Dwyer timing their run onto breaks to perfection to take them by the cover to square up to Nicky Quaid, giving the Limerick goalkeeper no chance either time.

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The Morris goal came early, after just three-and-a-half minutes when the break came off Callanan after Tom Morrissey had settled Limerick with the opening score.

Tipp got to the water break 1-8 to 0-7 ahead, with Jason Forde posting five points as his deep-lying role at centre-forward caused problems for Limerick.

Tipp's second goal on 19 minutes was a real crowd-lifter, helping to instil the belief around the ground that the All-Ireland champions were off cue and under pressure and hurried everywhere.

Just like Morris before him, O'Dywer's shot across Quaid's body was pinpoint and they were seven clear, 2-8 to 0-7.

Again Limerick composed themselves and when Diarmuid Byrnes floated over on 22minutes the gap was back to five.

But Tipp's approach was intense. Seamus Kennedy pointed, O'Dywer got out ahead of Declan Hannon and Forde, who landed 11 points, put them nine points clear before the lead stretched to 10.

Tipp got a consolation goal at the end from Mark Kehoe but they looked a beaten docket long before the end, succumbing to a powerhouse of the game that collectively shows no sign of abating.

Scorers -

Limerick – T Morrissey (1f), A Gillane (2fs) 0-6 each, S Flanagan 1-3, P Casey 0-5, D Byrnes 0-4 (2fs, 1 65), K Hayes 1-0, G Hegarty 0-3, C Lynch, D Reidy 0-1 each

Tipperary -Tipperary - J Forde 0-11 (3fs, 1 65), J O'Dwyer, J Morris 1-2 each, M Kehoe 1-0, S Callanan, D McCormack, M Breen, S Kennedy, W Connors, R Maher all 0-1 each.

TEAMS:

TIPPERARY: B Hogan; C Barrett, P Maher, B Heffernan; S Kennedy, B Maher, R Maher; A Flynn, D McCormack; M Breen, J Forde, N McGrath; J O'Dwyer, S Callanan, J Morris. Subs: W Connors for Flynn (52), M Kehoe for McGrath (56) N O'Meara for O'Dwyer (56), P Cadell for McCormack (56), B McGrath for Heffernan (59).

LIMERICK: N Quaid; S Finn, R English, B Nash; D Byrnes, D Hannon, K Hayes; W O'Donoghue, D O'Donovan; G Hegarty, C Lynch, T Morrissey; G Mulcahy, S Flanagan, P Casey. Subs: A Gillane for Mulcahy (30), D Morrissey for English blood (32), D Reidy for O'Donovan, C Boylan for T Morrissey (66), P Ryan for Flanagan (68), R Hanley for Lynch (70).

REFEREE: P O'Dwyer (Carlow)

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