Munster SHC: Treaty too good for Premier

May 20, 2018

Tipperary's Jason Forde is tackled by Seamus Hickey of Limerick

Limerick finished strongly in the rain to claim a deserved 1-23 to 2-14 victory over Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds.

A crowd of 20,423 took in this Round One round-robin encounter, where John Kiely's charges kept their composure to outscore a disappointing Tipp side by 1-5 to 0-1 in the last ten minutes.

Before that decisive surge, the sides had been level no fewer than 15 times but Limerick were always on the front foot and points from Aaron Gillane, Cian Lynch, Diarmuid Byrnes and Gearoid Hegarty preceded the clinching goal from substitute Barry Murphy three minutes from the end as the Treaty won pulling away.

In contrast, it was a worrying start to the new-look provincial championship for the losers, who managed just five points from play over the course of almost 80 minutes' play.

Jason Forde's free in the third minute of injury time ensured the Premier of a narrow 1-10 to 0-12 interval lead. The sides were level ten times during the course of an opening period that was closely-contested but clearly lacking the intensity that one would associate with knockout Munster championship hurling.

Limerick were sharpest out of the blocks but the sides were on level terms after six minutes as an excellent Forde free from the right sideline cancelled out Graeme Mulcahy's effort after Gillane and John McGrath traded the first two scores.

Mulcahy's second edged the hosts back in front in the ninth minute but the winners were guilty of some really poor misses as the game failed to catch fire in the early stages. Forde punished the wasteful Treaty County when he flashed over the equalising free on 15 minutes; Tom Morrissey immediately replied with the Shannonsiders' sixth wide.

Brian Hogan pulled off an exceptional reflex save to prevent Hegarty's first-time overhead flick from billowing the Tipp net but the Premier County rattled the net at the other end in the 20th minute when Dan McCormack drilled a fierce drive past Nickie Quaid after John McGrath's initial effort had unluckily rebounded off the butt of the left post.

Gillane posted frees either side of that Tipp goal and Mulcahy's third from play ensured that the men in green remained on terms, 0-6 to 1-3. Forde's third converted free nudged the visitors back ahead on 23 minutes but Morrissey atoned for a couple of earlier misses by tying the scores up for the fifth time.

Forde (free) and Gillane (who had a sight of goal but thumped over) swapped points. Cian Lynch replied via an upright after McGrath whipped over a stunning Tipp score from an acute angle and full forward Seamus Flanagan was on hand six minutes from the break to restore the hosts' lead. At the other end, a stylish Noel McGrath point had the teams level for the eighth time.

Kyle Hayes placed Mulcahy for his fourth but Forde frees either side of that score kept Tipp's noses ahead only for midfielder Darragh O'Donovan to equalise once more a minute from the break. Forde had the last say of a half that simmered but never really got close to boiling point.

With the rain falling, a brace of Gillane frees had Limerick back in front within five minutes of the restart but Forde replied from a soft free. Morrissey nailed a nice lead point in the 42nd minute and there were further wides at both sides of the pitch before a superb John O'Dwyer finish drew Tipp level again with ten second-half minutes elapsed.

Gillane won and converted a free to restore Limerick's lead and they finally snuck two clear when Hegarty obliged from distance - 0-17 to 1-12. A mis-hit Gillane free almost deflected to the Tipp net but was saved by Hogan and Byrnes duly slotted the resultant '65' to leave three between them. Just when it looked like Limerick were taking control, Forde gathered a dropping ball and arrowed it to the top left corner of the net - level again on 50 minutes, 2-12 to 0-18!

Brendan Maher and Seamus Callanan were both in the Tipp ranks for the fourth quarter and a sideline cut from the former culminated in Noel McGrath buying an inch to fire over the lead point twelve minutes from time. That was as good as it got for Michael Ryan's men…

Gillane's seventh meant the teams were level for the 15th (and last) time in the 60th minute and Patrickswell clubmates Cian Lynch and Byrnes ('65') each bagged their second of the day as the Treaty reeled off three in a row to edge two clear with six minutes left.

On cue, Hegarty notched his second on 65 minutes as the winners powered three ahead. After Forde thumped over a free, substitute Murphy found himself in behind the Tipp defence and sprinted into a one-on-one with Hogan before calmly batting to the net in the 67th minute to all but settle the match as a contest.

Byrnes extended the gap to six when nonchalantly converting a 70th-minute free from inside his own 45. That was it. Both teams got exactly what they deserved on what was a historic occasion - the first-ever round-robin game in the Munster senior hurling championship.

Limerick - N Quaid; S Finn, S Hickey, R English; D Byrnes (0-3, 2'65, 1f), D Hannon, D Morrissey; D O'Donovan (0-1), C Lynch (0-2); G Hegarty (0-2), K Hayes, T Morrissey (0-2); A Gillane (0-8, 6f), S Flanagan (0-1), G Mulcahy (0-4). Subs: D Dempsey for T Morrissey, B Murphy (1-0) for G Mulcahy, P Ryan for S Flanagan, P Browne for D O'Donovan.

Tipperary - B Hogan; A Flynn, S Kennedy, D Maher; B Heffernan, Padraic Maher, R Maher; W Connors, B McCarthy; D McCormack (1-0), N McGrath (0-2), S Curran; J O'Dwyer (0-1), J Forde (1-9, 0-9f), J McGrath (0-2). Subs: S O'Brien for D Maher, B Maher for W Connors, S Callanan for S Curran, M Breen for S Kennedy, Patrick Maher for B McCarthy.

Referee - J McGrath.

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