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5 talking points after Limerick triumph and Tipp exit in Munster U21 hurling drama

Limerick now take on Clare on 30 July.

1. Limerick hurling gets a boost

It’s been a tough time to be a Limerick hurling supporter. Last Wednesday the county’s intermediate side lost the Munster final. Then on Saturday, there was the more shocking experience of seeing the flagship senior side cough up a winning position and say farewell to the 2015 season.

Sunday’s minor final brought yet another Munster championship loss albeit the backdoor route means their interest is not extinguished.

The expectations Limerick fans held for their U21 side grew as a consequence and after a roller coaster ride, they delivered tonight. The past two Limerick minor sides have made major strides and that promise translated to U21 level tonight. It’s a significant success.

2. Tipperary’s slow start proves costly

With a senior and minor double having been achieved last Sunday, there was not a lack of confidence about Tipperary hurling before this game. Coupled with the fact that Tipperary swept to All-Ireland glory at minor level in 2012 and there was a persuasive argument to tip them to triumph.

But hurling against the wind was a factor in a torrid first-half. They hung in contention to be 1-3 to 0-1 adrift after the opening quarter before the game drifted substantially from them as they fell behind 2-8 to 0-2.

Granted a double blast to the net by Colin O’Riordan helped improve their fortunes before the break and they drew level with ten minutes left when Tadhg Gallagher netted. Yet it was Limerick who finished the stronger as Tipperary faded after investing so much in their comeback. They were never ahead on the scoreboard and rued their opening display.

3. Character and substitutes deliver for Limerick

If the opening stages unfolded like a dream for Limerick, the game transpired to be no stroll to success. Tests of their mentality emerged in various ways. The concession of 2-2 before half-time. The sending-off of their defensive fulcrum Barry O’Connell before the final quarter. Shipping a third goal and being brought back to parity with ten minutes left.

But Limerick rose to the challenge in a determined fashion. They upped their work rate in the second-half, defended formidably and were also grateful to a breathtaking save by goalkeeper David McCarthy.

The input of Limerick’s substitutes was also crucial with Sean Finn settling into the defence while Liam O’Sullivan brought a freshness around the middle. Jack Kelliher launched over a vital late point with his first touch of the game.

However the star from the bench was Colin Ryan, a member of last year’s progressive minor side. He weighed in with 0-4 in the last ten minutes and showed great maturity to assume the freetaking duties as he nailed three placed balls. The depth of Limerick’s panel helped nudge them over the finish line.

4. Senior exertions take their toll for Tipperary

Limerick possessed only one senior panellist in Cian Lynch whereas Tipperary had five players currently involved between senior football and hurling squads. It was not the over riding reason for the end result but just like last night’s Waterford-Clare game, the squad which has been able to work collectively with a greater frequency won out.

It was one of the small margins that helped settle this contest. Certainly Michael Breen was immense at full-back for Tipperary but Ronan Maher and Barry Heffernan were not allowed dictate the terms of engagement in the half-back line.

Captain Bill Maher had his hands full with Limerick lively midfield duo from Doon of Pat Ryan and Darragh O’Donovan. Colin O’Riordan and John McGrath have both had a hectic schedule of games recently along with managing injury concerns. They hit 2-6 between them yet their influence was curbed at stages by the Limerick defence.

5. Clare and Limerick to bring the Munster U21 curtain down

It’ll fall to Clare and Limerick to fight it out for the Munster U21 hurling silverware in a fortnight’s time after two dramatic and entertaining nights of action. The counties have not met a decider at this grade since 1986 but will eagerly await the 30 July tussle.

For Clare it will be a bid for a four-in-a-row and a 13th successive win at this level. For Limerick a first Munster final in this grade since that epic 2011 decider now beckons. After the downbeat mood following last weekend’s senior exits, U21 midweek victories will lift the Clare and Limerick hurling spirits.

14-man Limerick see off Tipperary to win six-goal Munster U21 hurling thriller

Here’s the team Cork hope will see off Kerry in Munster final replay

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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