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The endless summer - We look back at Limerick and Tipperary's 2007 trilogy

Relive 250 minutes of Munster Championship drama.

THESE SIDES OWE us a replay.

Limerick have had Tipperary’s number in recent years, but you’d have to go back 79 years since they last did a three in a row on their neighbours in the championship.

If you’re looking for the last time they went three undefeated though, you only have to cast your eye back eight years to the endless summer of 2007, when Limerick surprised themselves as well as the rest of the country by reaching the All-Ireland hurling final.

It all began on June 10 2007. Limerick, without a win in Munster since 2001, hosted a Tipperary side who themselves had been outside the tent of hurling’s elite since they lifted Liam six years earlier.

Limerick 1-18 Tipperary 1-19 (June 10 2007)

After 21 minutes, Limerick looked dead.

John Carroll had found the top corner for a goal, while Limerick’s Damien Reale found Eoin Kelly with the hurl, and walked the line.

Source: LimerickNomad/YouTube

A four point game, and a man up after 20 odd minutes, this didn’t have the makings of a Munster championship classic.

But with Ollie Moran and Andrew O’Shaughnessy on form, Limerick narrowed the gap to two at the break.

They were still in it, but in baked conditions at the Gaelic Grounds and a man less on the pitch, the task was huge.

The second half had a pattern. Limerick would reel Tipp in,  Tipp would pull clear of Limerick.

The gap was one, and then it was two. Back to one and back to two.

They led by three. And then it was level. They couldn’t shake off Limerick, but they had time on their sides.

Pat Tobin had something to say though. Brian Geary had launched it forward. Ollie Moran had plucked it from the sky, laying it off to Pat. The older brother of current Limerick corner forward Seanie took one step forward and shot.

Goal. Level. See you next Saturday in Thurles.

Source: GAA Archive/YouTube

Tipperary 2-21 Limerick 1-24 AET (June 16 2007)

Same again. 1-19 apiece after 70. Limerick striking late to get the draw.

This time though, the Limerick comeback was even larger.

Eoin Kelly was back on the frees for Tipp, and looking sharp.

Seamus Butler buried a goal past Brian Murray in the Limerick net, and it seemed every time the sliotar lift a Tipperary hurl, it was registering an umpire’s flag.

Andrew O’Shaughnessy had a penalty saved by Gerry Kennedy, in for the dropped Brendan Cummins, and when the sides ran down the tunnel after 35 minutes, Babs Keating’s side were 10 points in front.

Much like the previous week, Tipp ploughed along with a healthy lead for 20 minutes after the break, and as much as Limerick tried, it didn’t look like they could cut down the significant Tipp cushion.

Even when Mike Fitzgerald found the net for Limerick, Tipp kept feeding the tank, and with six minutes to play, the gap was still seven points.

They were four points ahead as the clock hit 70 minutes, and it seemed like a goal would be all that could save Limerick from a Munster championship exit.

Ollie Moran had other ides though. With two and a half minutes of injury time left he pointed to make it a three point game. 40 seconds later, he had another, and less than a minute after that his third point in a row had just the minimum between the sides.

Babs Keating’s side had to hold on for 60 more seconds, but couldn’t do it. With eight seconds left, Andrew O’Shaughnessy was hauled back for a free-in, a tap over point and extra time in Thurles.

Limerick struck first in extra time through James O’Brien, but after Eoin Kelly sliced through their defence to find Darragh Egan, he fired to the net, and normal service was resumed.

But as per the previous 150 minutes of so of hurling, Limerick fought back, and it was O’Shaughnessy again who had the responsibility of levelling things up, his contriversially awarded 65′ taking us back to Limerick yet again for round three.

Limerick 0-22 Tipperary 2-13 AET (June 24 2007)

Fed up of giving their neighbours a head start, Limerick bolted from the throw-in.

After 20 minutes, they were well in command, six points ahead, but indiscipline allowed Tipp to claw their way back, with Eoin Kelly lethal from the placed pall.

And before half-time, Tipp were in front. Limerick’s backs forgot about Darragh Egan inside, and for the second game in a row, he beat Brain Murray to find the net.

Andrew O’Shaughnessy drew Limerick level at the break, and as the sides exchanged the lead over and back throughout the course of the second half, extra time seemed inevitable.

But the longer the half wore on, the better Limerick looked, and with less than five minutes on the clock, they had a three point lead and a place in the Munster final in their sights.

But as we had learned over the previous two games, every second on the clock counts, and Tipp chipped away, before Seamus Butler forced extra time yet again when he turned and pointed deep in injury time.

Just as they did the previous week, Limerick struck first in extra time, before Tipperary found the net to go two ahead. As Yogi Berra famously said, “It was like Deja Vu all over again”.

2-13 to 17 points up heading into the second half of extra time, Tipperary didn’t register a score in the final 10 minutes of action.

Brian Geary’s long distance point, and two from placed balls for Andrew O’Shaughnessy had Limerick a point ahead heading into injury time.

Limerick fans started to dream when Ollie Moran sent a beauty over from the sideline to make it a two point game, before his younger brother Niall made sure of the victory seconds later, finally ending the most dramatic and emotional fortnight imaginable.

Source: hjmartin1/YouTube

For Tipp, there was further disappointment in the All-Ireland quarter final as they were shocked by Wexford, Babs Keating stepping down after their exit.

But Limerick, it was the start of a long summer that eventually ended under the Hogan Stand steps on All-Ireland final day, as they watched Kilkenny lift Liam McCarthy following an endless and unexpected summer.

– First published 09.00

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About the author:

Neil Treacy

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