LIMERICK have shocked Tipperary in this afternoon’s Munster SHC semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds, in front of 19,507 spectators.
John Allen’s Shannonsiders ripped up the formbook to pull off a sensational three-point victory – their first in the championship against Tipperary since 2007, which was the last year they contested a Munster final.
A devastating finish floored red-hot pre-match favourites Tipp – who went from four points up during the second half to three points down at the final whistle.
Limerick, who will face Clare or Cork in the Munster final on July 14, were excellent in the final 20 minutes as they outscored Tipp by 0-9 to 0-2.
Tipp looked on course for a comfortable victory when sub John O’Dwyer – who made a big impact after coming on at half-time – cracked home a superb 49th minute goal into the top corner of Nickie Quaid’s net.
But Limerick, who trailed by 1-9 to 1-13 at that juncture, fought back to draw level with eighteen minutes remaining, at 1-14 apiece. Yet when Declan Hannon missed a scoreable free, you sensed that the Treaty men’s old failings would return to haunt them.
Limerick blew a five-point lead with 20 minutes remaining in last year’s quarter-final but there was no chance of that happening on this occasion.
They edged two points clear with points from subs Shane Dowling and Niall Moran, before Eoin Kelly dragged Tipp back into contention with five minutes left.
But Limerick were flying and they bagged the final two scores through captain Donal O’Grady, who was excellent, and that man Hannon, scorer of 0-9.
Tipperary’s Michael Cahill and Conor O’Brien with Graeme Mulcahy of Limerick
Pic: INPHO/James Crombie
Limerick, who had a man of the match display from Richie McCarthy at full-back, led by 1-7 to 0-7 at the end of a first half that whizzed by in a welter of excitement.
With both full-back lines looking suspect, Seanie Tobin profited for Limerick’s 19th minute goal, whipped home off the base of an upright after Brendan Cummins had scooped the ball clear in a goalmouth scramble.
The goal arrived five minutes after Tipp should have netted themselves but Limerick goalkeeper Nickie Quaid produced a magnificent save to deny Seamus Callanan, who pulled the trigger from 12 yards.
That wasn’t the only goal chance of the first half as Pa Bourke was the next Tipp forward left scratching his head after Quaid pulled off another breathtaking save in the 22nd minute. Two minutes later, Callanan showed lovely skills and close control before sending an unorthodox effort across the face of goal and wide.
But Limerick were threatening too, with an aerial bombardment putting Tipp on the back foot. And after Graeme Mulcahy flashed a shot wide, with a free already given by Brian Gavin, Declan Hannon hit fresh air from an acute angle as he attempted to whip home a second goal for the Treaty men, in the 26th minute.
Tipperary appeared troubled by the ferocity of the Limerick challenge and before they knew it, the Premier County had fallen 0-1 to 0-3 behind within eight minutes.
John O’Brien’s industry up front, plus the freetaking of Callanan, kept Tipperary in the hunt but they were in big trouble when Tobin goaled to hand the hosts a 1-5 to 0-3 advantage.
Tipperary again trailed by five – 0-4 to 1-6 – but they finished with three of the last four points of the opening half to remain in contention at the interval.
Limerick’s Richie McCarthy and Seamus Callanan of Tipperary
Pic: INPHO/James Crombie
Scorers for Limerick: Declan Hannon 0-9 (5f, 1 65), Seanie Tobin 1-1, Donal O’Grady 0-3, Shane Dowling 0-2 (1f), David Breen, James Ryan & Niall Moran 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tipperary: John O’Dwyer 1-3, Seamus Callanan 0-4f, John O’Brien 0-3, Eoin Kelly 0-2 (1f), Brendan Maher, Noel McGrath & Pa Bourke 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid (Effin); Stephen Walsh (Glenroe), Richie McCarthy (Blackrock), Tom Condon (Knockaderry); Paudie O’Brien (Kilmallock), Wayne McNamara (Adare), Gavin O’Mahony (Kilmallock); Paul Browne (Bruff), Donal O’Grady (Granagh-Ballingarry): Seamus Hickey (Murroe-Boher), James Ryan (Garryspillane), David Breen (Na Piarsaigh); Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock), Declan Hannon (Adare), Seanie Tobin (Murroe-Boher).
Subs: Conor Allis (Croom) for Breen (42), Shane Dowling (Na Piarsaigh) for Hickey (49), Niall Moran (Ahane) for Tobin (61), Cathal King (Na Piarsaigh) for Browne (66), Kevin Downes (Na Piarsaigh) for Ryan (69).
TIPPERARY: Brendan Cummins (Ballybacon Grange); Paddy Stapleton (Borris-Ileigh), Paul Curran (Mullinahone), Michael Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields); Kieran Bergin (Killenaule), Conor O’Mahony (Newport), Padraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields); Brendan Maher (Borris-Ileigh), Shane McGrath (Ballinahinch) (Captain); Pa Bourke (Thurles Sarsfields), Patrick Maher (Lorrha and Dorrha). John O’Brien (Toomevara); Shane Bourke (JK Brackens), Seamus Callanan (Drom and Inch), Noel McGrath (Loughmore Castleiney).
Subs: John O’Dwyer (Killenaule) for S Bourke (half-time), Eoin Kelly for P Bourke (44), Brian O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonagh’s) for Callanan (49), Conor O’Brien (Éire Óg Annacarty) for S McGrath (64), Lar Corbett (Thurles Sarsfields) for B Maher (67).
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly).