LIMERICK will have two teams in action on Munster final day after the county minor team beat Tipperary by 1-17 to 0-17 in Semple Stadium on Wednesday night.
For the first time since 1980, Limerick will have both teams going for provincial glory on the same day after the minors shocked All-Ireland champions Tipperary before an attendance of 3,314.
Matching the heroics of the senior side earlier in the month, resilient Limerick battled back from a four-point deficit early in the third quarter to pull off a sensational victory.
Limerick will look to claim the Munster minor title for the first time since 1984 when the Shannonsiders lock horns with Waterford at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday, July 14 at 1.45pm. And Brian Ryan’s Limerick side has won the added bonus of being guaranteed a place in an All-Ireland quarter-final, irrespective of how the team fares in the upcoming Munster final.
On the evidence of this tenacious, committed, brave performance, Limerick will fancy their chances of ending their 29-year wait for a provincial title at U-18 level next month.
There was much to admire about the manner in which a plucky Limerick clawed their way back into the game having fallen 0-14 to 0-10 behind eight minutes into the second half.
There is no doubt but that the feel-good factor which exists in Limerick hurling at the moment following the seniors victory over Tipp, has had a positive impact on this minor squad too.
Limerick, rank outsiders at 4/1 with the bookies before throw-in, outscored their opponents 1-7 to 0-3 over the final 20 minutes of the match to earn their first Munster final appearance in the grade since 2005. The crucial score of the tie arrived in the 53rd minute with Limerick holding a slender 0-16 to 0-15 advantage. Substitute Thomas Morrissey made a terrific catch close to the Tipperary goal and as the Ahane clubman was driving towards the Tipp goal, he was hauled down.
Limerick’s top scorer Ronan Lynch blasted the resultant penalty to the net to help his side into a significant four-point advantage. Tipp did manage to reduce that gap to two points with five minutes remaining, but Na Piarsaigh sharpshooter Ronan Lynch had the final say nailing a long range injury time free to bring his tally for the evening to 1-7 and ensure Limerick’s final place.
The only previous Munster minor final meeting of Limerick and Waterford was in 1958 when the Shannonsiders emerged victorious on a 8-9 to 2-5 scoreline,
Limerick will take many positives from the game. The manner in which the backline snuffed out Tipp’s highly rated attack in the final 20 minutes was highly impressive. The home forwards had looked very threatening in the opening half.
But similar to their senior counterparts a few weeks back, Limerick’s two defensive lines suffocated Tipp’s forwards in the crucial closing 15 minutes.
The likes of Andrew La Touche Cosgrave, who finished the game very strongly, Stephen Ryan, Richard English and Stephen Ryan were especially prominent.
The switch of Barry Nash to midfield from the half-forward line paid handsome dividends also as the South Liberties clubman was hugely influential in the middle third.
In attack, all six of Limerick’s starting forwards managed to score from play, a hugely encouraging sign for any team. Na Piarsaigh’s David Dempsey struck over four excellent points from play, while Cian Lynch, of Patrickswell, chipped in with two. Ronan Lynch’s free-taking was immaculate all through, some of his scores from right on the sideline were simple sublime.
And encouragingly for Limerick too was the valuable contribution substitutes Morrissey and Graham Whelan made to the side.
One of the challenges facing this Limerick side now will be to keep a lid on the hype and sense of excitement which is sure to be generated by the county having two teams performing on Munster hurling final day in the city. Judged on how composed this minor side was in the face of Tipp’s strong challenge, it is something the squad should be able to deal with. Roll on July 14.
SCORERS – Limerick: Ronan Lynch 1-7 (1-0 pen, 0-6 frees), David Dempsey (0-4), Cian Lynch 0-2, Barry Nash, Dean Coleman, Patrick Ryan, Thomas Morrissey 0-1 each. Tipperary: Josh Keane 0-7 (0-4 frees), Colin O’Riordan 0-4, Tom Fox, Willie Connors, Mark McCarthy, Sam Colon, Conor Lanigan, Donnacha Quinn 0-1 each.
LIMERICK – Colin Ryan (Pallasgreen); Jamie Porter (Monaleen), Richard English (Doon), Sean Finn (Bruff); Stephen Ryan (Doon), Sean Flanagan (Feohanagh/Castlemahon), Andrew La Touche Cosgrave (Monaleen); Jamie Butler (Feohanagh/Castlemahon), Darragh O’Donovan (Doon); Barry Nash (South Liberties), David Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh), Cian Lynch (Patrickswell); Dean Coleman (Doon), Ronan Lynch (Na Piarsaigh), Patrick Ryan (Doon). Subs: Graham Whelan (Bruff) for Butler (39 mins), Thomas Morrissey for Patrick Ryan (43 mins).
TIPPERARY – Brian Hogan; Ross Mulcahy, Jason Ryan, Darragh Peters; Tom Fox, Ronan Maher, Barry Heffernan; Willie Connors, Tom Kirwan; Sean Ryan, Colin O’Riordan, Mark McCarthy; Sam Conlon, Josh Keane, Conor Lanigan. Subs: Tommy Nolan for Conlon (40 mins), Donnacha Quinn for Lanigan (47 mins), Austin Tierney for Peters (50 mins), Fionan O’Sullivan for Connors (56 mins).
REFEREE – Damien Fox (Clare)