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Dublin: 10 °C Monday 22 April, 2019
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Daithi Regan: Limerick's celebration, Tipp's dejection and Kilkenny's satisfaction

TheScore.ie’s hurling columnist reviews the weekend’s action.

Limerick v Tipperary

I was down in the Gaelic Grounds yesterday and it was a fantastic occasion to witness. Working at the game for TV3 down at pitchside, I got a real sense of what the win meant to the Limerick players and fans. They were thrilled afterwards.

And it was a success they greatly deserved. The majority of the Tipperary fans I spoke to beforehand were extremely confident. I only met one supporter who was worried about their chances. Nicky English was alongside me for TV3 and he was extremely worried as well.

Limerick’s mood was interesting. John Allen came over to us briefly during the puck-around before the game and he exuded confidence. Their kitman Ger O’Connell, a man I know well from business dealings, was someone I had a good chat with beforehand. He talked about how well their recent training sessions had gone and he said with great assurance that Limerick would win.

My one concern for Tipperary before the game was the manner of their attacking display in the league final against Kilkenny. Four of their attackers were substituted that day and that increased their reputation as a flaky forward line. I think Limerick watched that game very closely and that decided their approach to the game.

That defence of McCarthy, Condon, Walsh, McNamara, O’Mahony and O’Brien were brilliant. They hit hard and they tackled hard. Tipperray could not cope up front. They had one good spell early in the second-half. John O’Dwyer had made a great impact off the bench, Bonner Maher was coming more into the game and at the back Conor O’Mahony and Padraic Maher were winning puckouts.

At one stage a Tipperary water carrier came over near us after they had got the goal from O’Dwyer and he said ‘that’s us safe now’. I didn’t think that was the case and I wonder was that the thinking amongst the Tipperary players.

Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

Limerick did not let them pull away and fought back to outscore them by nine points to two in the closing 18 minutes of play. That says a huge amount about John Allen and his team with the maturity they showed. In comparison to 12 months ago, they had a stronger bench at their disposal with Conor Allis, Shane Dowling, Niall Moran and Kevin Downes the quality players that they had in reserve.

Tipperary’s situation was different as they saw some key players withdrawn. Eamon O’Shea has to go back to the drawing board now and he has a really difficult task now. His players did not show the necessary hunger and passion. This defeat raises a number of question marks, particularly up front. They too many like minded players there and trying to fit them in properly is the challenge for O’Shea.

For Limerick this was a brilliant day. If they go forward now to win the Munster final, it will be an extraordinary achievement and would do wonders for their confidence levels.

Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

Offaly v Kilkenny

There’s great positivity in Offaly hurling circles after yesterday’s game against Kilkenny. They may have lost but everyone I spoke to has been happy with how competitive Ollie Baker’s team were. They produced a great first-half performance.

Offaly emerged full of drive and the early goals gave them a great boost. They were hurt by the amount of points they conceded from frees but I think that was a direct result of Offaly’s game plan. They were concerned about Kilkenny’s ability to grab goals and that’s why Ger Healion was withdrawn to marshal the area in front of the goal.

Their half-forwards funnelled back to try to deprive Kilkenny space. They were extremely physical and prevented overlap situations arising. But there is a fine balance to strike and that came at a price as the point chances arose for Kilkenny.

The second-half was not a good enough return for Offaly. They only scored 2-2 and one of those goals came right at the death. They were not quite able to sustain their first-half tempo and that’s a challenge now.

I do not think Kilkenny will be concerned about their display. They still put up a great tally of points in raising 26 white flags. Offaly defended resolutely in stopping them score goals, Chris McDonald was particularly impressive, and there is still a sense that Kilkenny are capable of striking goals. They did what they needed to do.

Pic: INPHO/Ken Sutton

Dublin v Wexford

It wasn’t a good standard of hurling in Wexford Park on Saturday night. But it must be remembered that there was a huge amount at stake. For Anthony Daly to lose that game, it would have been a serious setback for him and his side. Liam Dunne then had big critics within his county in recent times. They were both under pressure and they don’t care about the performance, the objective is securing the result.

There was very few standout players during the game but Danny Sutcliffe, Jack Guiney and Garrett Sinnott did impress. Lee Chin brought a lot to Wexford’s play as well when he was introduced. I thought he had great balance and energy in his play.

I still think Dublin will seal the deal. But going forward they are lacking goalscorers. Apart from Sutcliffe, there was a lack of leadership in attack. Dublin are going to have to start taking a risk. They have regressed since reaching the All-Ireland semi-final in 2011 and need to develop a goal threat to get back to that level.

Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

All-Ireland Hurling Qualifier Draw

The standout game is the meeting of Offaly and Waterford. It’s a great game for both counties and I think it’s the right draw they need.

Offaly have a great mood of optimism after yesterday but need to be wary and keep a sense of balance. They only got 2-2 in the second-half and that’s something to work on.

For Waterford it’s an equally critical encounter and they cannot be underestimated. Home advantage is a boost for Offaly and for either side to exit this early in the season would be a big blow. That should sharpen their focus.

Limerick radio commentator’s joyous reaction to victory over Tipperary

9 pictures that sum up how busy Wexford’s Lee Chin was this weekend

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