Limerick produced a devastating second half performance to swat aside Tipperary's disappointing challenge in the Munster SHC final at a damp LIT Gaelic Grounds.
The All-Ireland champions were a totally different proposition to the team that surrendered meekly to Tipp in the last game of the round-robin series at Semple Stadium a fortnight ago as they turned the tables in highly impressive fashion. John Kiely's men led by just points at the break, 1-11 to 1-9, but there had already been signs that Tipp were struggling to live with their fierce work-rate and intensity, and they duly capitulated in the second half in the absence of injured stars Cathal Barrett and Patrick 'Bonner' Maher.
The victory secured a first Munster SHC title for the Treaty County in six years and a 20th all, while it's the first time in 82 years that they hold All-Ireland, Munster and National League titles at the same time.
It was nip-and-tuck in the early stages with the sides level on 0-3 apiece after seven minutes. But Tipp, who had posted four straight wins in the round-robin series, then enjoyed their best spell of the game as they held the winners scoreless for 12 minutes. Seamus Callanan's 32nd championship goal after the ball had been brought forward for dissent helped Liam Sheedy's men to a 1-6 to 0-4 lead with 18 minutes on the clock.
That was as good as it got for Tipp, however, as the hosts upped the ante and outscored them by 1-5 to 0-3 in the remainder of the half. Aaron Gillane (two) and Peter Casey rattled off three points on the spin before Callanan replied for Tipp. Limerick regained parity in the 26th minute when Gillane cut in from the left and centred for the excellent Casey to first-time to the net from close range.
The visitors were rattled and Brian Hogan needed to be alert to save from Gearoid Hegarty in the 28th minute. Hegarty's marker Ronan Maher score a fine point from distance, but efforts from Tom Morrissey and Diarmuid Byrnes (free) gave Limerick a two-point interval lead.
Byrnes and Hegarty doubled the hosts' advantage on the restart, only for Tipp to level by the 43rd minute thanks to a Jason Forde free and a John McGrath goal after Dan McCormack had set him up.
Aaron Gillane celebrates with the Limerick fans
The gauntlet had well and truly been thrown down to the Liam MacCarthy Cup holders, but how they responded! Casey tagged on two more points and Gillane nailed a free before Kyle Hayes, who had been denied a goal earlier, made no mistake in the 55th minute after James Barry had dispossessed Jame Barry to make it 2-18 to 2-12.
The result was never in doubt after that as Cian Lynch, Casey and Hegarty rattled off further scores to ease Limerick to a 12-point victory and a place in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Check out the best action from the Munster Hurling final here! pic.twitter.com/1CKLEHOUyH— The GAA (@officialgaa) June 30, 2019
Limerick - N Quaid; S Finn, M Casey, R English; D Byrnes (0-3f), D Hannon, D Morrissey; C Lynch (0-2), W O'Donoghue; G Hegarty (0-3), K Hayes (1-2), T Morrissey (0-4); A Gillane (0-4, 3f), G Mulcahy (0-2), P Casey (1-5). Subs: S Dowling for G Hegarty, D O’Donovan for W O’Donoghue, S Flanagan for P Casey, B Nash (0-1) for D Hannon, D Reidy for T Morrissey.
Tipperary - B Hogan; S Kennedy, J Barry, S O’Brien; B Maher, P Maher, R Maher (0-2); M Breen, N McGrath (0-1f); J Forde (0-6, 3f), J O’Dwyer (0-1), D McCormack (0-1); J McGrath (1-0), S Callanan (1-1), J Morris (0-1). Subs: N O’Meara for M Breen, R Byrne for N McGrath, J Cahill (0-1) for J O’Dwyer, B Heffernan for J Barry, M Kehoe for J McGrath.
Referee - P O’Dwyer.Tweet