Former Limerick hurling manager Donal O’Grady believes that tactical errors proved costly for the Shannonsiders in their Munster senior championship defeat to Tipperary on Sunday.
In his Irish Examiner column on Tuesday, O’Grady said that tactical issues such as their puckout strategy and ball retention were the main factors in Limerick’s downfall, and not a lack of fitness, as was opined by some observers after Sunday’s game.
“Limerick’s team and management will receive some well deserved kudos for their display in putting it up to Tipp, but as the days go on they will reflect on an opportunity lost,” wrote O’Grady.
He continued: “There were a lot of questions regarding Limerick’s fitness before this game because of the manner in which they lost to Clare in the league final.
“But fitness wasn’t the problem on Sunday. It was the tactics employed by Limerick that cost them the game. One squeezes the opposition by retaining the ball and one seldom gets tired when in possession.”
O’Grady noted that Limerick’s profligacy with their puckouts in the second half helped Tipperary to launch their late comeback from a seven-point deficit.
“Limerick won only four of 17 puckouts in the second half. Three of four to the right half-forward position were won while seven from eight were lost on the left and all five down the middle resulting in a lot of clean possession for Tipp’s Conor O’Mahony and Padraig Maher who was more comfortable when moved to the right around the 55th minute.
“This possession monopoly orchestrated the fight-back. One begs the question why a more varied approach wasn’t taken when Limerick led by seven points halfway through the second half?”
O’Grady added that while the puckout strategy worked for a percentage of the game, it was unlikely to prove effective over 70 minutes.
“One could argue that Limerick had built up their lead using the same puckout strategy but no team dominates for 35 minutes.
“Treaty corner-backs Tom Condon and Stephen Walsh delivered long clearances often ignoring midfielder Paul Browne who was regularly available for passes.
“These long clearances resulted in transfers from Tipp’s defence to midfield and both Shane and Noel McGrath used short ball from midfield to set up Bonner Maher, Seamus Callanan and Shane Bourke to run at the Limerick defence scoring points or drawing fouls.”