Munster Intermediate Hurling Championship Semi-Final
Tipperary 0-20 Limerick 0-15
The Tipperary intermediate hurlers, guided by Fethard’s Michael Ryan, battled their way past a hard-working Limerick outfit in boiling hot conditions at Páirc na nGael on Sunday afternoon.
The Shannonsiders set a hot pace and raced into a 0-3 to no-score lead, but once Tipperary settled down to their work the home side struggled to cope. Indeed, Tipperary led 0-6 to 0-5 after nineteen minutes, were 0-10 to 0-8 clear at the break and managed to keep Limerick at arm’s reach for the duration of the second half.
Michael Ryan is joined on the management team by coach Michael Ferncombe (Holycross-Ballycahill) and selectors Seán O’Meara (Shannon Rovers) and Eamonn O’Dwyer (Arravale Rovers).
This group had worked carefully to prepare their players in recent weeks. Indeed, that campaign featured a challenge match win over Leinster semi-finalists Laois.
That said Michael Ryan, who managed Tipperary to a provincial and All-Ireland intermediate title last year, was apprehensive prior to the game.
“Back on the road again and we are delighted,” Michael Ryan told the Tipperary Star.
“The first round of the championship in the intermediate grade can be tricky. We had good form in a few challenge games, but you would always be that bit apprehensive about bringing that form into a game. You always know that you have the players, but they still have to bring that to the table,” Michael Ryan explained.
“There were times when we went flat there, but we kicked on in the finish. We’re very happy to get over this round.”
Although an obviously distressed Denis Maher limped off with a hamstring injury the Thurles Sarsfields star enjoyed a fine outing as did David Young, Micheál Butler, Willie Ryan and Timmy Hammersley.
Joey McLoughney, however, looked the most obvious candidate for man of the match. The Toomevara man contributed handsomely and looked a class act.
“It’s something that we always emphasise to our players; to get a good start,” Michael Ryan said as he reflected on Tipperary’s slow start which saw the Premier fall three points in arrears during the opening ten minutes.
“In fairness when we did settle down we put some good scores together and we started to defend very well. There were so many great displays there throughout the field.”
Tipperary started very poorly and trailed 0-3 to no-score after ten minutes played.
Limerick centre-back Cathal McNamara landed a long-range free to present his side with a lead in the opening minute and added a ’65 two minutes later. And, when Jack Aherne steered over a smashing left-handed effort from a tight angle in the third minute Tipperary looked in trouble.
Tipp responded to the challenge however. Denis Maher, who was in terrific form, set up Ruairí Gleeson for a goal-scoring opportunity with a clever cross-field ball in the sixth minute, but the Kildangan man blazed wide with the goal at his mercy. Tipperary shook off the disappointment of that glaring miss to finally register a score thanks to a Timmy Hammersley free in the tenth minute.
Almost immediately Limerick responded with a Paudie Leahy point from distance, but Tipperary were getting themselves into the game all around the field with two points, courtesy of Timmy Hammersley and Paudie Greene, closing the gap to a single point (0-3 to 0-4) by the 13th minute.
Denis Maher created another goal chance for a forward colleague in the 14th minute, but this Timmy Hammersley fired wide from a promising position before Willie Ryan set Hammersley up for an equalising point in the 16th minute.
Limerick’s Pat Begley and Timmy Hammersley then traded super efforts before Tipperary took the lead for the first time in the 19th minute when Hammersley converted a routine free to help his side into a 0-6 to 0-5 advantage.
Willie Griffin managed a response for Limerick, but with Denis Maher dominating under the dropping ball Tipperary were threatening on a regular basis. Indeed, three consecutive points, thanks to Timmy Hammersley (free), Pat Molloy and Orrie Quirke, helped the visitors into a 0-9 to 0-6 advantage by the 24th minute.
To be fair Limerick responded once more with a brace of points from Jack Aherne (one free) to reduce the deficit to the minimum, but when Denis Maher set up Pat Molloy for a cracker of a point in the 28th minute to hand Tipperary a 0-10 to 0-8 interval lead the signs were looking very ominous for the Shannonsiders.
Tipperary franked their dominance immediately after the break with a Timmy Hammersley free, a Ruairí Gleeson effort and a smashing Joey McLoughney point from a sideline ball to force Michael Ryan’s side into a 0-13 to 0-8 lead by the 35th minute.
Tipperary’s discipline let them down a little thereafter with three Jack Aherne frees, which book-ended a Timmy Hammersley effort (free), helping Limerick back into contention. And, with sixteen minutes to play Limerick had closed the gap to a manageable three - 0-11 to 0-14.
Tipperary needed a point and found it thanks to the highly-influential Timmy Hammersley, but a Limerick brace, featuring another Jack Aherne free, left two between them (0-13 to 0-15) entering the final ten minutes.
Tipperary, once more, responded with an absolute belter of a point from Joey McLoughney who won Darragh Egan’s puck-out before driving over a long-range effort. Then, in the 51st minute, Timmy Hammersley (free) handed the Premier a 0-17 to 0-13 lead.
With five minutes to play Tipperary coughed up yet another free which Jack Aherne converted, but Joey McLoughney responded in kind with his third point.
Limerick’s Jason Hayes and Tipperary’s Pádraig O’Leary then traded points to leave four between them (0-19 to 0-15) with time fast running out.
Limerick desperately needed a goal and almost created a vital three-pointer in the 58th minute. Dan Morrissey made room for Mikey Ryan to shoot, but ‘keeper Darragh Egan made a fine save at his near post. Egan also impressively saved Morrissey’s follow-up before Timmy Hammersley converted a late ’65 to hand Tipperary a well-deserved five-point win.
Tipperary: Darragh Egan (Kildangan), Seán O’Brien (Newport), Micheál Butler (Drom & Inch), Tom Treacy (Cappawhite), Willie Ryan (Clonakenny, 0-1), David Young (Toomevara, captain), Pádraig Heffernan (Clonoulty-Rossmore), Joey McLoughney (Toomevara, 0-3, 0-1 sideline), Seán McCormack (Borris-Ileigh), Orrie Quirke (Silvermines, 0-1), Timmy Hammersley (Clonoulty-Rossmore, 0-10, 0-6 frees, 0-1 ‘65), Pat Molloy (Moycarkey-Borris, 0-2), Ruairí Gleeson (Kildangan, 0-1), Denis Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Pádraig Greene (Upperchurch-Drombane, 0-1). Subs: (41st) Pádraig O’Leary (Templederry Kenyons, 0-1) for Denis Maher, (47th) Michael Ivors (Ballingarry) for Pádraig Greene, (51st) Alan Hogan (Shannon Rovers) for Seán McCormack.
Tipperary panellists: Thomas Lowry (Holycross-Ballycahill), Martin Minehan (Kildangan), Kevin Fox (Éire Óg Annacarty), Darren Delaney (Toomevara), Kevin Lanigan (Carrick Swans), Liam Ryan (Drom & Inch), Pat Molloy (Moycarkey-Borris), Michael Russell (Thurles Sarsfields), Denis Stapleton (Sean Treacy’s) & Danny O’Hanlon (Carrick Swans).
Limerick: Shane O’Donoghue, Shane Irwin, Barry O’Connell, Mike Reidy, Jason Hayes (0-1), Cathal McNamara (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 ’65), David O’Neill, Paudie Leahy (0-1), Conor Kearney, Kevin O’Brien, David Reidy, Dan Morrissey, Willie Griffin (0-1), Pat Begley (0-1), Jack Aherne (0-8, 0-6 frees). Subs: (34th) Barry Lynch for David O’Neill, (37th) Michael Ryan (0-1) for Kevin O’Brien, (42nd) Mikey Ryan for Willie Griffin, (51st) Brendan Giltenane for David Reidy.
Referee: Paul Foley (Waterford).