Tipperary 1-15 Limerick 0-16
A first-half Seán Kenneally goal proved to be the difference as Tipperary held on for their first Munster Under-20 Championship win of the season at Semple Stadium on Friday evening.
Tipperary had led by 10 points by half-time – 1-9 to 0-2 – before a much-improved Limerick fought back and almost secured at least a draw. But after going 26 minutes without a score in the second half, a late flurry of points saw the hosts secure the all-important win with just two points to spare.
After a superb ball forward from Tipperary half back Cathal Quinn, Jack Leamy opened the scoring in the third minute and the home side were three points up by the 10th minute thanks to scores from Leamy and Peter McGarry.
Shane O’Brien stopped the rot for Limerick with the visitors first point of the evening with 11 minutes on the clock.
However, an Eddie Ryan point – the score of the game – after the Borris-Ileigh man slotted from a tight angle and from distance, followed by a Leamy free – his third point – had Brendan Cummins’s charges four ahead midway through the opening half.
From here, the Premier County really took a hold on the game and with the hosts completely dominated the second quarter.
Tipp’s goal came just minutes before half-time – Kenneally turning Evan O’Leary before blasting into the back of the net.
Limerick, lacking the intensity and accuracy so prevalent throughout last year’s Munster championship-winning campaign, clocked up 12 wides in the opening half and scored just one point from play.
After the restart, the Treaty men quickly narrowed the deficit to eight points with a Patrick O’Donovan free and a point from substitute Con Hayes gave Diarmuid Mullins’s side a glimmer of hope.
A much-improved Limerick outscored Tipp by seven points to three in the third quarter to make it a six-point game heading into the final 15 minutes.
The momentum was now with Limerick, and the Munster champions eventually brought it back to one point after a period where the battling Shannonsiders scored six points without response as Tipp went 26 minutes without scoring.
Showing great character and resilience, Tipperary got over the line with a late Leamy free securing the vital two points for Cummins’s young guns.
Limerick must now beat Cork next weekend to be in with a chance of securing a top three finish in the Munster round-robin group stage, while Tipp know a win at home to basement side Waterford will be enough for a semi-final spot.
TIPPERARY: Jason O’Dwyer; Danny Slattery, Robert Doyle, Luke Shanahan; Cathal Quinn, Joe Caesar, Conor McKelvey; Jake Morris, Darragh Stakelum (capt) (0-1); Seán Kenneally (1-2), Eddie Ryan (0-3), Jack Leamy (0-7, five frees); Peter McGarry (0-1), Tony Cahill, Darragh McCarthy
Subs: Damien Corbett (0-1) for McCarthy, Ben Currivan for McGarry (both 45 mins), Stephen Ferncombe for Ryan (56), Michael Corcoran for McKelvey (58), Conor O’Brien for Slattery (62, inj).
LIMERICK: Josh O’Reilly; David Fitzgerald, Ronan Lyons (0-1), Evan O’Leary; Barry Duff, Cian Scully (0-1), Ethan Hurley (capt); Joseph Fitzgerald, John Kirby; Fintan Fitzgerald, Patrick O’Donovan (0-9, seven frees), Adam Fitzgerald (0-1); Shane O’Brien (0-1), Adam English, Seán O’Neill.
Subs: Con Hayes (0-1) for English (30 mins, inj); Michael Gavin for Kirby, Oisín O’Farrell (0-2) for Fintan Fitzgerald (both half-time); Liam Dennehy for O’Neill (51).
Referee: Nicky Barry (Waterford).