Hurlers Set To Host Limerick In First Competitive Outing

By Brian McDonnell at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh

TIPERARY host Limerick at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh on Sunday (throw-in 2pm) in the Waterford Crystal Cup quarter-finals - the contest is sure to attract a large crowd to the north Tipperary venue as hurling supporters are eager to see Eamon O’Shea’s men in their first competitive contest of the year. The game will also present us with a precursor to the championship meeting between the sides on Sunday, June 9th.

On Saturday Limerick got their year off to a positive start when beating Mary Immaculate College 3-15 to 0-13 in the opening round of the Waterford Crystal Cup and be in no doubt, but John Allen’s fast-developing side will be keen to impress at MacDonagh Park on Sunday.

For the third consecutive week Tipperary were in action last Sunday as the Premier prepare to defend their Waterford Crystal Cup title when Eamon O’Shea’s men lost to Dublin (1-19 to 1-21) in a highly-entertaining challenge match at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh.

Although Tipperary lost the game there were plenty of encouraging performances. It was heartening to see Conor O’Mahony return to the starting team while John O’Dwyer caught the eye at centre-forward. Meanwhile Brendan Maher was absolutely outstanding, but it was heart-breaking to see Séamus Callanan limp off with a suspected hamstring injury in the 38th minute. Prior to the injury the misfortunate Drom & Inch star had fired seven points (0-3 from play). For Dublin Paul Schutte and Peter Kelly were excellent for Anthony Daly’s men while wing-forward Danny Sutcliffe was a most obvious candidate for man of the match.

What may have disappointed manager Eamon O’Shea however was Tipperary’s stuttering finish to this encounter. Following a cracking Shane Bourke goal in the 57th minute Tipp led 1-17 to 1-16 and the home side maintained a significant advantage until the 63rd minute (1-19 to 1-17). Thereafter, however, Dublin finished the game like a runaway train scoring four points without reply in highly impressive fashion.

Tipperary began in rude good form and raced into a 0-8 to 0-1 lead by the 16th minute. A Joey McLoughney sideline set the tone in the very first minute.

Although Dublin responded thanks to Conal Keaney Tipperary surged seven points clear thanks to points from Séamus Callanan (0-3, 0-3 frees), John O’Dwyer, John O’Neill (two) and a second Joey McLoughney point.

Dublin settled to their task however and responded to the challenge by firing 1-6 in a thirteen-minute period while Tipperary could only manage a single Séamus Callanan point in reply. Points from Paul Ryan (four) and John McCaffrey closed the gap to three points (0-6 to 0-9) before Danny Sutcliffe plundered an absolute cracker of a goal in the 26th minute when he tricked his way past Shane McGrath and Donagh Maher before beating Darren Gleeson with a rasping effort. Eamon Dillon and Paul Ryan added further points and Tipperary trailed 0-9 to 1-8 by the 29th minute. That deficit could have been significantly greater, but Darren Gleeson denied Paul Ryan and then Danny Sutcliffe with two superb saves in the 17th and 22nd minutes.

A very lively Séamus Callanan settled Tipperary with a fine point in the 31st minute before levelling matters from a placed ball a minute later (0-11 to 1-8).

Given their display Dublin deserved to enjoy an interval advantage and they duly did so following a smashing Paul Ryan brace, one a cracking left-handed effort and the other a long-range free into the wind.

Half-time: Dublin 1-10 Tipperary 0-11.

A Danny Sutcliffe point immediately after the break forced Dublin into the lead before Séamus Callanan responded for Tipp - in his efforts to notch this point the Drom & Inch man appeared to pick up a hamstring injury and limped off.

A long-range effort from Michael Carton re-established Dublin’s three-point lead before Paul Schutte hauled Brian O’Meara down for a penalty in the 41st minute. Second half substitute Eoin Kelly took responsibility for the placed ball, but his rasping effort flew narrowly over the Dublin crossbar.

Points from Paul Ryan (free) and Conal Keaney helped Dublin into a 1-14 to 0-13 lead before Tipperary responded with efforts from Eoin Kelly and Brian O’Meara.

Paul Ryan opted to go for goal from a 21-yard free in the 49th minute, but Darren Gleeson saved once more. The Portroe man could do little about John McCaffrey’s superb long-range point in the 50th minute and Dublin led 1-15 to 0-15.

Two points from Eoin Kelly (one free) cut the deficit significantly before the lively Eamon Dillon fired over a cracking point in the 56th minute.

Trailing by two points Tipperary needed to locate some form of tonic and found it in the 57th minute when Brian O’Meara broke a long-range John O’Dwyer free down to Shane Bourke who beat Dublin ‘keeper Gary McGuire with a terrific left-handed effort. A minute later Johnny Ryan landed an awkward free and Tipperary led 1-18 to 1-16.

In the 60th and 62nd minutes Gary McGuire made fine saves to deny Shane Bourke and then Patrick Maher before Eamon Dillon notched his third point from play to leave one point between the sides. Seconds later John O’Dwyer responded for Tipperary and the home side led 1-19 to 1-17 with seven minutes to play.

Dublin however finished much the stronger. A Simon Lambert point cut the deficit to a single point and although Darren Gleeson denied Eamon Dillon with a superb save in the 65th minute a Paul Ryan effort two minutes later levelled matters (1-19 each).

Tipperary failed to respond and in the 68th minute Danny Sutcliffe raced up the sideline and fired over a magnificent right-handed effort to hand Dublin a deserved lead. Two minutes into injury John McCaffrey (with his third point from play) added to the Dublin tally.

Tipperary: Darren Gleeson (Portroe), Donagh Maher (Burgess), Conor O’Mahony (Newport), Paul Curran (Mullinahone), Shane McGrath (Ballinahinch), Séamus Hennessy (Kilruane MacDonagh’s), Brendan Maher (Borris-Ileigh), Conor O’Brien (Éire Óg Annacarty), Joey McLoughney (Toomevara, 0-2, 0-1 sideline), Séamus Callanan (Drom & Inch, 0-7, 0-4 frees), John O’Dwyer (Killenaule, 0-2), Patrick Maher (Lorrha), Michael Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg), Brian O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonagh’s, 0-1), John O’Neill (Clonoulty-Rossmore, 0-2). Subs: (38th) Eoin Kelly (Mullinahone, 0-4, 0-2 frees, 0-1 penalty) for Séamus Callanan, (53rd) Johnny Ryan (Drom & Inch, 0-1, 0-1 free) for John O’Neill, (53rd) Shane Bourke (JK Bracken’s, 1-0) for Michael Heffernan.

Dublin: Gary McGuire, Niall Corcoran, Paul Schutte, Ruairí Trainor, Peter Kelly, Michael Carton (0-1), Chris Crummey, Joey Boland, Shane Durkan, Conal Keaney (0-2), John McCaffrey (0-3), Danny Sutcliffe (1-2), Paul Ryan (0-9, 0-5 frees), Mark Schutte, Eamon Dillon (0-3). Subs: (52nd) Conor Murphy for Niall Corcoran, (55th) Niall McMorrow for Mark Schutte, (64th) Ross O’Carroll for Conal Keaney, (64th) Simon Lambert (0-1) for Chris Crummey.

Referee: John Sexton (Cork).