Tipperary Manager Liam Cahill’s assessment that his minor hurling charges will have to improve quite significantly if they are to glean anything from the 2014 championship season, was right on the money, as he picked through the debris of a heavy defeat at the hands of Limerick.
Granted Tipp went into the Electric Ireland championship tie in the Gaelic Grounds as underdogs with a much younger side and far less experience, but this was still a comprehensive loss, a pair of goals giving false hope of recovery against a well drilled and well polished Limerick team.
“We leared a lot from tonights game, that’s for sure. I think our players have learned and we, as a management, have learned too. There is a lot of work to be done and the only place we can do that is in the training field. We have to get back there now and start that work straight away because we will have, more than likely, Clare in the horizon in a few weeks time,”Liam Cahill said afterwards.
Tipp meet with the winners of Clare and Kerry, and as the Ballingarry man predicted, it is most likely to be Clare, thereby setting up a date in Cusack Park, Ennis in a few weeks time.
And, while many will focus on the negatives from the Limerick defeat, the management will try to garner positives, difficult though that task may be.
At least Tipperary now know the standards they must rise to - whether they can remains to be seen. And, they will play a lot of games before coming up against as polished and as competant a minor hurling side.
Limerick dominated the game - their greatest failing perhaps being that they didn’t put the game beyond their neighbours from an earlier stage.
The Shannonsiders were dominant in the air in practically all sectors - three points in the first half came direct from puckout to hand and over the bar. And, all three of Limerick’s goals came from clean catches in the air before the pass off and finish.
Tipp, to their credit, playing against the breeze in the first half, managed to show plenty of resilience for a time. It was clear that Limerick were the better side and they picked off scores with greater ease - they had eight from play against Tipperary’s one.
Colin Ryan and Cian Lynch did much of the damage for Limerick with Lynch grabbing two of their 0-12 total, while Ryan had 0-5. Centre back Ronan Lynch struck two superb long range frees also while Barry Nash (2) and Lorcan Lyons were also on target.
It was probably no surprise then that the Limerick lads, who had ten of last years team in action - led by double scores at the break 0-12 to 0-6. The Tipp backs were under a lot of pressure and the forwards were finding it very hard to win any clean possession. To that end, only Tommy Nolan managed a score from play with the others coming from Andrew Coffey and Shane Hennessy (4) frees.
Nolan was unlucky not to have goalled in the 5th minute after he rounded his man and shot with purpose, but Limerick keeper Eoghan McNamara made a fine save and Willie Coffey following up was unable to turn the ball into the net. Let off for the Treaty County.
With the breeze at their backs, Tipp knew that improvement was necessary.
“We were very disappointed with the way we had played in the first half and we had a long chat about it at half time. We needed to see more in the second half, but Limerick just swamped us out of it and there was no way back. It was an experience for us and a lesson in many ways,” Liam Cahill said.
Paul Ryan pointed for Tipp early on after restart but Cian Lynch goalled for Limerick after Colin Ryan caught overhead, burst through and passed to the Patrickswell man.
Tommy Nolan - Tipp’s most productive attacker - flashed a ground ball over the bar - it could have been a goal as easy, moments before Paul Ryan did get one for Tipp after Nolan set him up. It was back to four points then and when Andrew Coffey netted at the end of ther third quarter following a scramble in the Limerick square, and Paul Ryan pointed again, only the minimum separated the sides.
Could Tipperary push on against the odds? Would Limerick be punished for letting them back into the game? No, was the answer to both questions.
Barry Nash goalled almost immediately for Limerick to restore their confidence and they went on to add 1-4 to Tipperary’s 0-1 before the final whistle - the goal coming in the 29th minute from Nash again after Colin Ryan had set his up once more.
Clare’s three pronged attack through the Lynch, Nash and Ryan portals was, for the most part, responsible for Tipps downfall. They were just too good for Tipp and no measure on the night was going to result in the Premier men having their measure. Of course they received tremendous support from other quarters too, but not only were they able to finish with style, they were able to win their own ball and take on their men. Limerick looked to have far more pace and energy than Tipp- a worrying trend it has to be said.
Defensively, Limerick dominated and ravaged Premier attackers at every opportunity. They were all over the Tipp lads and gave them no time whatsoever to settle on ball and weigh up options. Ronan Lynch at centre back accounted for four of their scores with long range frees - a real Sean McMahon in the making.
Yes, this is a very good Limerick side, but they must now travel to Pairc Ui Chaoimh to take on Cork - no easy task.
Whither Tipperary now?
It’s back to the training field now to work on many aspects of the game. Tipp’s hurling was poor with first touch, missed rises, fumbled off-loads and wrong option taking, characterising a performance which certainly disappointed. Perhaps nervousness accounted for much of this - Tipp folks will be hoping that this was the case.
Credit though to the players too for fighting the fight. Although outclassed, out weighed and our-boxed, they continued to get up from the canvass and stand on their feet. Alan Tynan battled hard as did Shane Hennessy and Tommy Nolan. Jack Skehan did his best to hold the inner defensive line together, while Andrew Coffey and Paul Maher tried hard. Brian Hogan too was confident and assured in his handling and learning between the sticks.
Teams and Scorers:
Limerick: E McNamara, S Finn, D Fanning, J Porter, A La Touche Congrave, R Lynch 0-4, L Lyons 0-1, R Hanley, C O’Brien, S Flanagan, B Nash 2-2, C Lynch 1-3, T Morrissey, E Doyle, C Ryan 0-6. Subs: C Fitzgerald 0-1 for E Doyle; T Grimes for C O’Brien; P O’Loughlin for L Lyons; S O’Connell for R Hanley.
Tipperary: B Hogan, C McCullagh, J Skehan, D Peters, B McCarthy, P Maher, C Ryan, A Coffey 1-2, W Connors, A Tynan, W Coffey, S Hennessy 0-5, T Nolan 0-2, S Quirke, P Ryan 1-2. Subs: C Floyd for B McCarthy; P Ryan for W Connors; L Fahey for Quirke; R Peters for P Ryan.
Referee: J Larkin (Cork)