Third time lucky for Limerick

June 24, 2007

Emotions run high at Pairc na NGael Limerick
Limerick will tackle Waterford in this year's Munster SHC final on July 8th after a heroic second replay victory (0-22 to 2-13), after extra-time, over Tipperary at a wet Gaelic Grounds, Limerick before 30,608 fortunate fans. Predictably the combatants finished level, 1-12 to 0-15 at the end of the conventional 70 minutes-plus after Seamus Butler (Tipp) fired over an injury-time leveller. However it was the green and whites who won the survival of the fittest thereafter with five unanswered points straddling half-time in extra-time firing them into the provincial decider. In what was more low-key affair compared to their efforts earlier in the month but no less exciting for all that, the would-be winners were on fire in the first 20 minutes as they stormed into a 0-7 to 0-1 lead. Even though Eoin Kelly converted a free 50 seconds into the game, it was Richie Bennis's men who took the game by the scruff of the neck to reel off some fabulous points, including gems from Kevin Tobin, Donal O'Grady, Ollie Moran, Niall Moran and Mike Fitzgerald. With the Shannonsiders' defenders dominating their opponents and their midfield on top, Tipp laboured to get into the match but thanks to Kelly's accuracy from frees (five) the Premier County somehow brought it back to a one point game, 0-6 to 0-7, by the 33rd minute. Two minutes later though, Tipp leaped into a shock lead when Darragh Egan was all alone on the edge of the square and promptly fired the ball to the Limerick net. Limerick gave fans a glimpse of things to come though when fighting back to level matters at half-time with points from Niall Moran and Andrew O'Shaughnessy (free). Tipp began with a spring in their step on the restart with two points but Limerick refused to let their opponents open up a significant gap and by the hour mark, the sides were again deadlocked, 1-9 to 0-12. The game continued to be a see-saw affair but with four minutes of the game remaining, it looked to be Limerick's day as Tipp faced into a 1-9 to 0-15 deficit. But Tipp finished with a flourish and points from Pa Burke, Eoin Kelly (free) and Seamus Butler (injury time) left the sides level at the close of normal time. Limerick proceeded to answer any questions that may have hung over their killer-instinct when extra-time kicked off. Ollie Moran pointed inside the first minute and while Willie Ryan goaled when volleying home following good work by Eoin Kelly in the 10th minute, Tipp were to play second fiddle for the rest of the match. Indeed Eoin Kelly's 11th minute free - his 9th point of the day - was to prove to be Tipp's last score as they crept into a 2-13 to 0-16 lead. From there to the finish Limerick got the bit between their teeth and Andrew O'Shaughnessy's fourth point of the game in the 12th minute of extra-time (first half) signalled Limerick's push for a provincial final place. Barry Foley saw his shot brilliantly saved by Gerry Kennedy but Tipp couldn't hold out. After an inspirational Brian Geary point one minute into the start of the second half was added to by O'Shaughnessy's conversion of a 65, Limerick were once again on level terms, 0-19 to 2-13. Limerick kept up the pressure 'till the end and O'Shaughnessy, Ollie Moran and Niall Moran all found the target to wrap up an unforgettable win for Limerick in an epic three-match encounter. Limerick - B Murray; D Reale , S Lucey, S Hickey; M O'Riordan, B Geary 0-3, M Foley; M O'Brien, D O'Grady 0-1; N Moran 0-5, O Moran 0-3, M Fitzgerald 0-2; A O'Shaughnessy 0-6, B Begley, K Tobin 0-2. Subs: P Lawlor for Reale, J O'Brien for Begley, P Tobin for K Tobin, B Foley for Fitzgerald, H Flavin for P Tobin. Tipperary - G Kennedy; E Buckley, D Fanning, D Fitzgerald; E Corcoran, C O'Mahony, H Maloney; S McGrath 0-1, J Woodlock; J Carroll, D Egan 1-0, B Dunne; S Butler 0-2, E Kelly 0-9, L Corbett. Subs - T Stapleton for McGrath, P Bourke 0-1 for Carroll, W Ryan 1-0 for Dunne. Referee - S McMahon (Clare)

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