Allianz National League Division 1, Round 1
Limerick 0-20 Tipperary 0-20
LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick
May 8th 2021
Absence, they say, makes the heart grow fonder. Rarely has an opening round encounter in the hurling league been so hotly anticipated.
The uncertainty over the last few months, added to the fact that this was Limerick’s first public outing of any sort since they lifted the Liam McCarthy cup in December, had put this game in the national spotlight.
A Saturday evening televised slot help add to the focus on this game. It was hard to know prior to the throw-in if the players of both sides could produce the speed and sharpness expected of the ‘elite athletes’ tag that has been foisted upon them. After a limited window of training John Kiely and Liam Sheedy sent their respective sides into battle. Would they be ring rust and lack any flow to their passing moves or would their innate skills and muscle memory click into gear?
A Seamus Flannagan point got Limerick off the mark and Tipp’s Niall O’Mara sent over a quick response from distance. Adrian Breen got on the end of a fine diagonal pass and fired over a nice point on the turn. Willie Connors, who was to the fore for Tipp in the opening exchanges, landed a booming score from out the field. The tempo of the game was already fierce and any doubts about the sluggishness of either side were quickly dispelled.
Darragh O’Donovan edged the All-Ireland champions ahead again after some good foraging by Seamus Flannagan. Then Jason Forde open his account with a free on what was to be a busy evening for the Tipp free-taker. David Reidy was on free taking duty for Limerick and he got his name on the board with a placed ball from the 65’. Seamus Flanagan got in on the act and swung over a nice score as the first ten minutes of action saw eight scores as Limerick led 0-05 v 0-03.
Jason Forde landed a brace of fine scores from play to bring the sides back level again. However, David Reidy added a score from play and a Reidy free push Limerick’s lead out to two points again just before the water break.
First Water break: Limerick 0-7 Tipperary 0-5
Free taker Forde landed another placed ball from out near the halfway line and shortly after a Dan McCormack effort levelled things up again at 0-7 apiece.
The sides exchanged scores again, David Reidy from play for Limerick and Ronan Maher with an immediate response sent over points at either end. Forde added a brace of frees to edge Tipp two ahead at 0-8 v 0-10. Ronan Maher added another from distance
Limerick were struggling to find their rhythm during this spell, with passes falling half a yard ahead or behind their intended targets.
David Reidy sent over a fine point from under the Mackey stand to get the treaty county going. Shortly after a Will O’Donoghue score levelled it up.
Michael Breen edged the visitors ahead again before Reidy concluded the first half scoring with a pointed free.
Half time: Limerick 0-12 Tipperary 0-12.
Jason Forde took up where he left off in the first half and struck over another placed ball. This time it was from about 55 yards out to the right of the Ennis road goal. Limerick were level shortly after when Adrian Breen sent over a reply. It was his third point of the evening. A pointed 65’ from Forde nudged Sheedy’s side once again. He added another this time from the left of goal taking his personal tally to nine. It was ten moments later with a score to move Tipperary 3 points ahead.
Peter Casey made an immediate impact off the bench with a point reducing the deficit once again to two. Then Willie Connors threatened the Limerick goal and was bearing down on Nicky Quaid. The Limerick full-back line swarmed around him, but he won a free which was duly sent over the bar by Forde.
Two more Jason Forde frees either side of the second water break saw Liam Sheedy’s men establish a five point lead. John Keily reacted to this Tipperary purple patch by bringing the big guns off the bench. Gearoíd Heagarty and Cian Lynch were sprung from the bench.
The introduction of the hurler of the year gave John Kiely’s men fresh impetus. Limerick started to get on top around the middle of the park. Winning the little breaks that had by and large previously being going the way of the Premier.
Scores from Casey and a free from Reidy levelled things up once more with 5 to go. Jason Forde pointed yet another free to nudged Tipp ahead again once again. Tipp’s number 14 now had a scoring tally to match his jersey. However, Reidy levelled it up again for the final time.
This entertaining contest ended as it had began, all-square. In their post match reactions both Liam Sheedy and John Kiely conceded that a draw was a fair result. But the overall consensus on leaving the Gaelic Grounds was it’s great to have hurling back!
Full Time: Limerick 0-20 Tipperary 0-20
Limerick: 1.Nickie Quaid, 2.Aaron Costello, 3.Sean Finn, 4.Richie English, 5.Diarmaid Byrnes 0-1f, 6.Kyle Hayes, 7.Barry Nash, 8.William O’Donoghue(c) 0-1, 9.Darragh O’Donovan 0-1, 10.Tom Morrissey, 11.David Reidy 0-8;6f, 12.Conor Boylan, 13.Adrian Breen 0-3, 14.Seamus Flanagan 0-4, 15.David Dempsey.
Subs: 16.Barry Hennessy, 17.Jerome Boylan, 18.Peter Casey (for Dempsey 35min), 19.Ronan Connolly, 20.Josh Considine, 21.Gearoid Hegarty (for Boylan 55), 22.Cian Lynch (O’Donovan 35min), 23.Darren O’Connell (Breen 58min), 24.Brian O’Grady (O’Donoghue 68), 25.Mark Quinlan, 26.Brian Ryan.
Tipperary: 1.Barry Hogan, 2.Cathal Barrett, 3.Ronan Maher 0-2;1f, 4.Barry Heffernan, 5.Brian McGrath, 6.Seamus Kennedy, 7.Bryan O’Meara, 8.Alan Flynn, 9.Michael Breen 0-1, 10.Dan McCormack, 11.Patrick Maher, 12.Niall O’Meara 0-1, 13.Willie Connors 0-1, 14.Jason Forde 0-14;11f;1 65′, 15.Jake Morris.
Subs: 16.Brian Hogan, 17.Robert Byrne, 18.Paddy Cadell, 19.Cian Darcy (for Connor 60), 20.Paul Flynn, 21.Mark Kehoe (Flynn 62), 22.Padraic Maher (B O’Meara 59), 23.John McGrath, 24.Noel McGrath (O’Meara 53), 25.James Quigley, 26.Dillon Quirke (Patrick Maher 53).