Not since the U21 All Ireland Final has a Limerick side oozed the class and confidence that Pat Donnelly’s charges displayed last night in their 2-24 to 0-19 victory over Tipperary last night.
Within 10 minutes Limerick had 1-4 on the board opening up a 7 point lead that they would never relinquish, Tom Morrissey scoring the goal after a fine save by the Tipp goalie from a Barry Nash drive.
Anchored by Kyle Hayes the Limerick backs were well on top allowing the roaming forwards to cause havoc. Colin Ryan matched his high work rate in midfield with a couple of nice scores from distance.
On the quarter hour mark, Barry Nash scored his goal to give Limerick a commanding 2-6 to 0-3 lead and virtually put the tie beyond doubt.
The sides then traded points with two monster points from Ronan Lynch the highlights. At half time the scoreboard read 2-12 to 0-8.
Half time in Gaelic Grounds✅ @LimerickCLG @TipperaryGAA pic.twitter.com/lcKjSkCyqF
— Sporting Limerick (@SportingLK) June 22, 2017
Tipp to their credit rallied after the half and had the gap reduced to 2-13 to 0-13. Senior player Aaron Gillane began to assert his influence and had four points in a row to extend the Limerick lead.
In the end, Limerick cruised to 2-24 to 0-19 victory to set up a July 12 semi final clash with Clare in a repeat of the 2015 Munster Final.
This victory had all the hallmarks of the 2015 side who conquered all that were put in front of them.
With no fewer than 8 of the 2015 squad remaining Limerick were able to use a game plan that John Kiely put in place that year. Unlike the senior side who have yet to establish a set style or pattern, all passes last night were crisp, controlled and in front of the intended target.
Sean Finn, Ronan Lynch, Cian Lynch, Colin Ryan, Barry Nash, Tom Morrissey, Robbie Hanley and Peter Casey all saw game time in 2015. So did Andrew La Touché Cosgrave who was an unused substitute last night whilst Eoghan McNamara and Seamus Flanagan were also part of the 2015 squad.
The competition that senior inter county hurling provides was evident in a number of players last night who have grown immeasurably. Colin Ryan was excellent in the middle of the park as was Tom Morrissey up front who caused a world of damage.
However, it was a man who wasn’t part of the 2015 squad – as he was only just turned 17 – that impressed the most last night. Last year’s minor captain Kyle Hayes was a pillar of strength at centre back.
Despite operating in the forwards for the minors last year and seniors in 2017, Hayes was located at 6 last night as he is for his club Pallaskenry/Kildimo. Within the opening minutes Hayes claimed two puck outs to assert his dominance which he would continue to do throughout the 6o minutes.
Another feature of this side was the ability of the backs and noticeably the forwards was to win the ‘dirty’ ball. This was a strength of great Limerick teams in the past and looks to be ingrained in this side.
Whilst the performance was near flawless, Donnelly will know tougher tests will come. The full-back line is relatively inexperienced at this level and weren’t tested last night. Furthermore the opposition were poor and thus it is hard to judge this team after Tipp’s lacklustre display.
Regardless, a Munster semi final in the Gaelic Grounds is secured and this U21 side have breathed life into Limerick hurling in 2017.