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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 2 March 2021

Limerick's red-hot form, champions Tipperary misfire and winter hurling hits home

It finished 3-23 to 2-17 in Limerick’s favour in Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.

Seamus Callanan and Cian Lynch after the game.
Seamus Callanan and Cian Lynch after the game.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

1. Limerick’s red-hot form

In the long spell of inactivity that dragged on since the shutdown in mid-March, the question persisted as how teams would regain form if, and then when, the action resumed. In hurling there is one clear answer – Limerick’s standards have not slipped.

A ten-point success on opening day over Clare, who were heavily reliant on Tony Kelly, was one thing, but taking down the reigning All-Ireland champions by nine points, albeit the margin swelled by a fortunate goal at the finish, was a powerful statement of intent.

They now have a fortnight break before the Munster final but appear in a state of supreme health. John Kiely will remember that the outlook was similarly positive after last year’s Munster final and will be intent on guarding against being tripped up again.

2. Scoring power enables Limerick to withstand setbacks

0-36 registered last week, 3-23 posted on the board yesterday. Limerick are packing a serious scoring punch at present. It’s salient to point out 11 different players contributed on the scoreboard against Tipperary, matching the return when facing Clare. They got 1-2 courtesy of the substitute trio of Seamus Flanagan, David Reidy and Pat Ryan while outside of their starting forwards, Diarmaid Byrnes and William O’Donoghue hit 0-5 between them.

That level of firepower was central to their responses whenever Tipperary looked like they were getting going yesterday. Jake Morris scored a goal to cut the gap to a point, Limerick outscored them 1-8 to 0-3 for the remainder of the half. Tipperary struck the first three points of the second half, Aaron Gillane fought back with a burst of 1-2. A second goal arrived for Tipperary, they moved within five soon after and Limerick hit the next three points of the game. It’s a headache facing opposing defences. 

peter-casey-celebrates Peter Casey celebrated after Limerick's win over Tipperary. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

3. A day that Tipperary misfired

Tipperary’s own attacking credentials are well established but this game was not an example to support that. The long bout of inactivity and wretched weather may have contributed but 2-7 from play was a low total by Tipperary’s standards. In comparison from play they hit 3-16 against Kilkenny and 1-18 against Wexford in the critical games that decided the 2019 championship.

Drill a bit deeper into those numbers and 0-4 yesterday were supplied by Tipperary’s midfielders and centre-back. John McGrath’s goal shouldn’t have stood after Noel McGrath had fouled the ball, leaving a tally of 1-2 from their starting forward line. When was the last time their attacking king Seamus Callanan was held scoreless or did not have a shot on goal?

Admittedly he did not tap over a simple point and instead despatched the defence-breaking pass for the Jake Morris first-half goal. But ultimately it was part of a difficult day for Tipperary’s forward line.

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4. Winter hurling hits home

Limerick’s first-half against Clare unfolded in pleasant autumn sunshine last week, yesterday was a reminder why there have been so many discussions as to what influence winter conditions would have on the 2020 hurling fare.

The howling wind and sweeping showers were part of the drastic changes the teams had to contend with in their pursuit of a Munster final place. The Páirc Uí Chaoimh pitch, which has notably fallen into disrepair in the past, held up brilliantly but this was a grinding test for both teams. It could be the template for matches over the next few weeks.

john-mcgrath-ronan-maher-and-alan-flynn-dejected Tipperary players leave the pitch amidst the showers in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

5. Tipperary head to the backdoor

Liam Sheedy was forthright in his post-match assessment of Tipperary’s faults. Their usage of possession disappointed him with attacking deliveries playing into Limerick’s hands when they were chasing the game. He didn’t want to use the lack of match practice as an excuse but there was a distinct lack of sharpness which fed into coughing up possession and sloppiness in their first touch.

The provincial silverware is now out of reach but at least there is a safety net, not something afforded to football equivalents as Sheedy pointed out. Today’s qualifier draw will map out their route but defensive injures are a challenge and they’ll need an upswing in form from this.

The42 GAA Weekly is here! Join hosts Shane Dowling and Marc Ó Sé as they preview Tipperary v Limerick, Donegal v Tyrone, and the rest of the weekend’s action:

Source: The42 Podcasts/SoundCloud

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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