Limerick withstood a ferocious second half fightback from Tipperary this afternoon to book their place in the semi-finals of the Munster senior football championship.
The Shannonsiders held on for a narrow two-point victory as Tipp’s brave effort fell just short in front of 4,673 spectators at Semple Stadium in Thurles.
A blistering start provided the platform for this Limerick win as Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s men booked a provincial last four showdown with Clare in Ennis on 7 June.
With 30 minutes on the watch, Limerick had stormed into a 1-06 to 0-00 lead and fully 32 minutes of the game had elapsed before Tipp landed their very first point, a free from captain Barry Grogan.
On the stroke of half-time, Grogan set up Brian Coen for a Tipperary goal and that fisted effort from close range was a major fillip for the Premier County as they trailed by 1-08 to 1-01 at the break.
Coen’s goal provided just a glimmer of hope but few could have predicted just how close Tipp would come to snatching victory from the jaws of a demoralising defeat.
Tipp reduced the deficit to just the bare minimum in stoppage time at the end of the game but Limerick hung on to avenge the Division 3 NFL defeat against the same opposition at Kilmallock earlier this year.
Tipp had secured a glorious promotion to Division 2 under the stewardship of John Evans and hopes were high of a first SFC victory since 2003.
But Limerick are battle-hardened championship campaigners and they shrugged off the disappointment of relegation to Division 4 with this priceless win as O’Sullivan outfoxed his fellow Kerry native Evans.
Limerick also won when the two sides met in last year’s forgettable championship encounter at Fermoy but this was a far superior game.
Right from the start, Limerick launched a blitzkrieg assault on Tipperary and it paid rich dividends after just two minutes when Ian Ryan pounced on a Brian Fox mistake before finding the net.
That goal knocked the stuffing out of a nervous-looking Tipp who could not cope with the sheer power of the Limerick onslaught in sweltering conditions.
Jim O’Donovan and John Galvin lorded the midfield battle for the Treaty men while Padraig Browne’s switch from defence to the half-forward line also worked a treat.
Limerick: S Kiely; S Gallagher, J McCarthy, M O’Riordan; P Browne, S Lavin, P Ranahan (0-01); J O’Donovan, J Galvin; S Lucey (0-01), I Ryan (1-02, 0-02f), S Buckley (c); C Joyce-Power (0-02), J Stokes, G Collins (0-04, 2f).
Subs: K O’Callaghan (0-01, 45) for Stokes (42), D Phelan for Buckley (49), L O’Dwyer for Ranahan (60), B O’Brien for O’Donovan (60), T Cahill for Joyce-Power (70).
Tipperary: P Fitzgerald; C Morrissey, R Costigan, P Codd; C Aylward, H Coghlan (0-01), B Fox; G Hannigan, B Jones; S Carey, P Austin, B Mulvihill (0-01); J Tierney, B Coen (1-02), B Grogan (c) (0-04f).
Subs: C Higgins for Morrissey (21), K Mulryan for Jones (32), A Fitzgerald (0-01) for Tierney (41), D O’Brien for Austin (51).
Referee: G Ó’Conámha (Galway).