Gaelic GamesMatch Report

Limerick run out winners over Tipperary thanks to superior firepower

Late goal brought Tipperary back to within a point but there was no time left to look for levelling point

NHL Division 1B: Limerick 0-26 Tipperary 3-16

The final scoreline was one of those harmless accidents, like dropping your toast on the buttered side. How the hell? Murder. Carry on. Jake Morris scored Tipperary’s third goal with the last puck of the match, and if you had been following the action in humourless score updates on your phone you might have thought it could sway either way.

In reality, the All-Ireland champions controlled the play for the last 40 minutes and Tipp were increasingly stressed by the simple act of staying in the game. Limerick engineered a nine-point swing in the middle of the match, without the trampoline effect of a goal, and if they had been more clinical in the final quarter they would have won by half a dozen points or more.

Limerick’s play, though, was sloppy and clunky for much of the first half, and they didn’t source their familiar rhythm until they fell five points behind shortly before the break. Afterwards John Kiely bemoaned “unforced errors”, listing the offences like he was tipping pebbles out of his shoe: handling errors, dropped balls, misplaced passes, missed pickups.

At the core of Limerick’s brilliance is their capacity to execute the fundamentals to such a high and consistent finish that you don’t notice how hard it is. They haven’t reached that point in their season yet. What really agitated him, though, were the goals Tipperary scored: two from turnovers in the Limerick half, and the other when the goal scorer was in traffic, and Limerick tried to stop him with amber-light defending.


The last time Limerick conceded three goals in a league or championship match was the 2021 Munster hurling final – against Tipperary, in the same venue. That’s a run of 31 matches over 32 months. Limerick’s response to Tipperary’s first two goals was to reel off the next four points, but Kiely wasn’t inclined to see the bright side.

“That response shouldn’t be necessary really. In all three cases we’d be very disappointed with the way we conceded those goals. They were mistakes on our part.”

Tipperary started brightly, and playing against a swirling, spoiling wind, they forced the pace for much of the opening half an hour. Gearoid O’Connor and Jason Forde were terrific in their attack and Tipp were applying plenty of interference to Limerick’s puck-outs and their build-up play from the back.

When Forde struck for the opening goal, five minutes before half-time, Tipp were 1-7 to 0-5 in front and if they were slightly flattered by that lead there was no need to blush either. By half-time, though, Limerick had cut the deficit back to a point and already the mood had changed.

Young Donnacha O’Dalaigh – who built on his performance in Croke Park a fortnight ago with another productive evening – gave Limerick the lead for the first time 15 minutes into the second half and by then they were in a better groove.

“We hung in there, the margin was three points for a long time,” said Liam Cahill. “It didn’t feel like that maybe on the sideline from where I was. If I’m being honest, it probably felt it should have been more, but very encouraged with the way our boys stayed at it, really, really stayed at it.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Limerick didn’t do anything that Limerick don’t do every day they go out. They didn’t come with anything extra special. To be fair to Limerick, they’re just so good and so consistent at what they do. I can’t say that we didn’t know what was coming, but we just weren’t able to counteract it again today, call a spade a spade. We have to go away and look at it and work on it and keep chipping away at it and find the answers.”

The cloud over Tipperary’s evening was a knee injury to Séamus Kennedy. Without any contact he crumpled to the ground in the middle of the field, early in the second half, after a few minutes of treatment he made a slow, aided walk to the sideline. Cahill feared the worst.

Kyle Hayes wasn’t part of Limerick’s matchday squad and Kiely said afterwards that he had suffered an injury in training; Darragh O’Donovan had picked up a knock too, nothing serious. Cian Lynch, though, was fit to start his first game since the All-Ireland final and after a sluggish start his influence grew.

They’re warming up. Not long now.

LIMERICK: N Quaid; F O’Connor (0-1), D Morrissey, M Casey; D Byrnes (0-3, 0-1f), C O’Neill, C Coughlan (0-2); W O’Donoghue, B Murphy; G Hegarty (0-2), C Lynch (0-2), C Boylan (0-1); A Gillane (0-8, 0-7f), D O’Dalaigh (0-3), P Casey.

Subs: T Morrissey (0-1f) for Boylan, G Mulcahy (0-1) for P Casey (both 59 mins); S Flanagan (0-1) for Gillane (65); A English (0-1) for Murphy (70).

TIPPERARY: B Hogan; C Morgan (0-1), R Maher, M Breen; S Kennedy, B McGrath, C Bowe; E Connolly, P Cadell; A Tynan (0-1), C Stakelum, G O’Connor (0-3); J Forde (1-7, 0-3f), J McGrath, J Morris (1-3).

Subs: B O’Mara for B McGrath (h-t); D McCormack for Kennedy (46 mins); S Ryan (0-1) for J McGrath, P Maher (1-0) for Tynan (both 57); C Quinn for Cadell (65).

Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway).

Denis Walsh

Denis Walsh

Denis Walsh is a sports writer with The Irish Times