1. Limerick power their way to Munster glory

At different junctures this afternoon, the scoreboard suggested that if Limerick were to triumph then it would be by a close margin. They trailed by five points in the 18th minute, were up by two at the interval and were level with Tipperary nine minutes into the second half.

And yet by the final whistle Limerick had sailed clear by 12 points. They unleashed a hurling storm that blew Tipperary away in the final quarter, a joyous experience for the home faithful in the bumper crowd of 44,052. Once Kyle Hayes surged clear to land Limerick’s second goal, this match was a done deal. The goal was the start of an unanswered run of 1-7 from Limerick, and even if Tipperary notched a brace of consolation scores, Graeme Mulcahy rounded off the day with a point to underline the control Limerick had exerted.

2. Tipperary’s player losses and attacking struggles

A fortnight ago Tipperary emerged on the right side of a contest with Limerick but it proved a damaging outing. Patrick Maher’s season was curtailed with a torn cruciate, Cathal Barrett unable to line out today despite being named in the team released on Friday night. Those absences robbed Tipperary of vital ingredients in the full-back and half-forward sectors, the injuries magnified by the contribution of the Limerick quartet – Hannon, Lynch, Hegarty and Mulcahy – that were missing in Semple Stadium.

The difficulties Tipperary endured up front were also salient to note. En route to topping the round-robin table, Tipperary had shot the lights out as they compiled 125 points. They cleared the total 30-point barrier on three occasions. A drop to 2-14 (20 points) was thus dramatic, posting 1-5 in the second half and 0-2 in the last quarter. The McGrath brothers and John O’Dwyer have been outstanding of late but could not impact here with that trio benched by full-time.

Tipperary hurling boss Liam Sheedy.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

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3. Casey points the way for Limerick

Peter Casey was one of the weapons in reserve that Limerick utilised quite effectively last summer. On the day they reached the Liam MacCarthy Cup summit he entered the game in the 64th minute, today as they reached the Munster hurling peak he was departing in the 66th minute. It was a contrast for the Na Piarsaigh forward, the collective rise of the Limerick fans to acclaim him as he reached the sideline, captured the dazzling display he had produced.

Casey amassed 1-5 from play, 1-2 in the opening period and 0-3 after the break. He was a danger for the Tipperary rearguard throughout with his sharp and busy style of play. The flick to dispossess James Barry in the 55th minute was crucial as he diverted possession into the path of Kyle Hayes for the game-breaking second goal. His starting spot looks assured as Limerick move onto the All-Ireland series. 

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Peter Casey strikes home Limerick’s opening goal of the game.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

4. Tipperary’s recovery mission

The second coming of Liam Sheedy at the helm had seen Tipperary in flawless form before today in the championship arena. They had successfully completed all of their Munster assignments before this game but today represents a significant setback.

Facing a team of Limerick’s stature meant this final was always going to be a difficult task, yet it is the scale of the defeat more so than the result that will concern them. They looked unable to cope with the ferocity of Limerick’s play in the middle third, the home side’s momentum hard to suppress. John McGrath’s second-half goal never jolted Tipperary into life despite drawing them level and they will head to an All-Ireland quarter-final in recovery mode. 

5. Champions are front-runners entering All-Ireland series

With the provincial matters wrapped up, the focus shifts to the All-Ireland series and the health of the current title holders cannot be disputed. After ending their 45-year barren spell in memorable fashion last August, Limerick have not slackened off. They collected league honours in the spring and have now added Munster silverware to their trophy cabinet.

Granted they suffered a couple of reversals in the provincial schedule but when it mattered most Limerick delivered. Their team has undergone a huge transformation since the county’s last Munster win in 2013 and this win will be cherished by their group. Right now they look to be in pole position as the national race for hurling honours heats up.

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