By Brian McDonnell at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh
Waterford Crystal Cup
Tipperary 0-22 Limerick 1-9
IN what ultimately proved to be a non-event Tipperary strolled to a ten-point win over a very disappointing Limerick outfit at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh on Sunday afternoon - Eamon O’Shea’s men, the defending Waterford Crystal Cup champions, will now face LIT in a Waterford Crystal Cup semi-final on Sunday, February 3rd (12 noon in Dolla).
Limerick took the honours in the Waterford Crystal Cup for the one and only time in 2006, but going by this display it is hard to see the Shannonsiders winning this tournament any time soon. John Allen’s men struggled to make any real impact on this contest, especially in the second half when they failed to score from play. That said Tipperary could only beat what was placed in front of them. And, the Premier did so with the defence always looking comfortable and Johnny Ryan giving an exhibition of long-range free-taking while Brian O’Meara was allowed to do as he pleased in the full-forward line.
Speaking after the game assistant manager Michael Ryan said he was delighted by the aptitude for work shown by the Tipperary players.
“It was a workout. In late January you don’t have high expectations with the conditions and everything. So, it was just a workout for the two teams. It was all about seeing what kind of effort you would get from the boys,” the Upperchurch-Drombane man explained.
“We didn’t expect to see high quality, but we are very happy with where we are at. The lads worked very hard. I wouldn’t read too much into anything that we saw here. We’re happy. We are in the middle of some very hard pre-season work and the matches are coming thick and fast. That is our fourth game in-a-row. As far as we are concerned we are happy with where we are at and that we are moving in the right direction.”
Michael Ryan also revealed that he was personally delighted to be back working with the Tipperary senior hurling team: “it’s great to be back involved. We are delighted with our set-up. All the guys are really putting their shoulder to the wheel. It’s great to be back working with Eamon (O’Shea) and Paudie (O’Neill - coach) again. We have a lovely set up in there. So, we are all happy”.
Limerick took the lead thanks to a Gavin O’Mahony free inside the opening minute before Tipperary responded thanks to Brian O’Meara and a smashing Eoin Kelly point in the third minute. In the eighth Séamus Hickey created a goal-scoring opportunity for Shane Dowling, but Brendan Cummins advanced to smother that effort as Limerick sought to take full advantage of a stiff breeze at their backs. A minute later however a Timmy Hammersley point helped Tipperary into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead before points from Limerick’s James Ryan, Séamus Hickey, Niall Maher and a long-range Gavin O’Mahony free helped Limerick into a 0-5 to 0-3 advantage inside the opening thirteen minutes.
Tipperary, with Brendan Maher and Séamus Hennessy now dominating in the half-back line, stepped up their performance significantly thereafter and restricted Limerick to 1-4 for the remaining fifty-seven minutes.
Points from John O’Dwyer and Eoin Kelly (free) got the Premier moving in the right direction before a Shane Dowling free re-claimed the lead for Limerick (0-6 to 0-5) by the 17th minute.
Johnny Ryan (free) and Shane Dowling then traded points before Timmy Hammersley and Niall Maher performed the same trick to maintain that one-point differential with twenty-seven minutes played.
Limerick now led 0-8 to 0-7, but Tipperary finished the half in very impressive fashion with points from Eoin Kelly (two frees) and a Brian O’Meara effort in the 34th minute clipping the Limerick crossbar before ricocheting over to present the home side with 0-10 to 0-8 lead. It is worth noting however that a profligate Limerick fired eleven first half wides - Tipperary three.
Immediately after the break points from Timmy Hammersley, Johnny Ryan (free), Brian O’Meara and Eoin Kelly (free) helped Tipperary into a 0-14 to 0-8 lead by the 41st minute.
Shane Dowling (free) and Brian O’Meara then traded points before Donagh Maher hauled Séan Tobin down for a penalty in the 49th minute which Shane Dowling smacked home. Dowling’s effort cut the deficit to three points (1-9 to 0-15), but Tipperary were in no mood to concede ground to the Shannonsiders. Indeed, Limerick failed to score for the remainder of this encounter while Tipp tacked on seven further points.
Johnny Ryan fired over two very tricky long-range frees and a ’65 to help Tipperary into a 0-18 to 1-9 lead by the 54th minute before John O’Neill added to the home side’s tally with fifteen minutes to play.
Shane McGrath was introduced to great effect and the Ballinahinch man helped himself to two consecutive points as this game sauntered to an inevitable conclusion. Brian O’Meara had the final say in the matter in the 72nd minute when the Kilruane MacDonagh’s man tapped over a late 21-yard free.
Tipperary will now face LIT in next Sunday’s Waterford Crystal Cup semi-final (12 noon Dolla). Should they successfully negotiate that hurdle the final is scheduled to take place on Sunday, February 10th. Meanwhile Tipperary will launch their National Hurling League campaign on Saturday, February 23rd when the Premier travel to take on Cork at Páirc Uí Rinn.
Tipperary: Brendan Cummins (Ballybacon-Grange), Conor O’Brien (Éire Óg Annacarty), Paul Curran (Mullinahone), Donagh Maher (Burgess), Joey McLoughney (Toomevara), Brendan Maher (Borris-Ileigh), Séamus Hennessy (Kilruane MacDonagh’s), James Woodlock (Drom & Inch), Johnny Ryan (Drom & Inch, 0-5, 0-4 frees, 0-1 ‘65), John O’Dwyer (Killenaule, 0-1), Timmy Hammersley (Clonoulty-Rossmore, 0-3), Patrick Maher (Lorrha & Dorrha), Brian O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonagh’s, 0-5, 0-1 free), Eoin Kelly (Mullinahone, 0-5, 0-3 frees), John O’Neill (Clonoulty-Rossmore, 0-1). Subs: (52nd) Shane McGrath (Ballinahinch, 0-2) for James Woodlock, (54th) Shane Bourke (Ballinahinch) for John O’Dwyer, (59th) Mikey Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg) for Eoin Kelly.
Limerick: Nicky Quaid, Shane O’Neill, Richie McCarthy, Tom Condon, Wayne McNamara, Dónal O’Grady, Gavin O’Mahony (0-2, 0-2 frees), Cathal King, James Ryan (0-1), Niall Maher (0-2), Séamus Hickey (0-1), Niall Moran, Mikey Ryan, Shane Dowling (1-3, 1-0 penalty, 0-2 frees), Séan Tobin. Subs: (HT) Kevin Downes for Mikey Ryan, (HT) David Moloney for Gavin O’Mahony, (52nd) David Reidy for Séan Tobin, (58th) Thomas Quaid for Niall Maher, (64th) Stephen Walsh for Tom Condon.
Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork).