Limerick 1-19 Tipperary 1-19

Updated: Thursday, 14 Jun 2007 15:51

Match statistics Limerick captain Damien Reale is shown the red card in the 21st minute following a second yellow card offence Tipperary's John Carroll evades a tackle from Limerick's Mark Foley to score the opening goal
Match statistics Limerick captain Damien Reale is shown the red card in the 21st minute following a second yellow card offence Tipperary's John Carroll evades a tackle from Limerick's Mark Foley to score the opening goal

Limerick substitute Pat Tobin brilliantly rasped home a late goal to draw his side level with Tipperary and send today's pulsating Munster SHC semi-final to a replay.

Despite having their captain Damien Reale red carded in the 21st-minute, the Shannonsiders showed excellent fighting spirit to stick with Tipp and keep their Munster title hopes alive.

In sun-kissed conditions at the Gaelic Grounds, Tipp led for most of the game and were 1-09 to 0-10 ahead at the break, thanks to a John Carroll goal.

But some superb shooting kept Limerick in touch and Tobin broke free to fire to the net in the 67th minute and set up a second day out.

This was exactly the type of game hurling aficionados and fans had been crying out for. It was certainly the headline grabber that the Guinness Hurling Championship craved on its first weekend of combat in both Munster and Leinster.

The Ennis Road venue was left shuddering with excitement for the entire 70 minutes as these old rivals, meeting for the seventh time in the Championship since 2001, served up a thrilling encounter high on intensity and quality.

The hitting was hard, the scoring was top class, it was edge of the seat stuff and had all the colour, fervour and passion so typical of the Munster Championship.

It was also testament to the fitness levels present in the modern game that despite the spiralling temperatures, the sides notably upped the tempo as the minutes ticked by, peppering both goals with some superb shots until Tobin dramatically levelled the tie for the ninth and final time.

With a place in the 8 July final at stake, the sides went point for point until Tipperary saw a chink of light around the quarter-hour mark.

Tipp boss Babs Keating made two changes to the side he originally selected with full-back Paul Curran, who has been suffering from a broken toe, and full-forward Lar Corbett, whose lack of training counted against him, making way for Declan Fanning and the 19-year-old Pa Bourke.

Due to an injury, All Star Eoin Kelly, who grabbed a personal haul of 0-14 when these counties met last summer, had the free-taking duties taken off him, but Tipp had an able deputy in Toomevara's Willie Ryan and he shot them into a second minute lead.

Kelly slotted in at full-forward where he was marked by Limerick skipper Reale, who succeeded in keeping him scoreless until being sent off.

Tipp had their own problems in defence, with the Moran brothers, Ollie and Niall, causing plenty of havoc as half-forwards. Between them, the Morans scored five points from play for Limerick in the first half with centre-forward Ollie raising four white flags.

Ollie showed great persistence to collect a breaking ball and shoot over Limerick's first point after four minutes. He soon added another and an Andrew O'Shaughnessy free had Richie Bennis' men level at 0-03 apiece after eight minutes.

Ryan and SHC debutant James Woodlock had taken Tipp's total to three points, but Limerick then managed to nose 0-05 to 0-03 ahead with two rapid-fire points from Niall Moran and Barry Foley.

Carroll's goal followed on the 16 minute mark - Benny Dunne dangled a long free in on top of the Limerick defence, the sliotar bobbled and broke into Carroll's path and the big Roscrea attacker seized control before finding the top left corner of Brian Murray's net.

The tide turned further in Tipp's favour when Reale, who had been booked earlier for clashing with Kelly, saw yellow again and was banished to the sideline for striking Kelly.

A brace of Ryan frees and an excellent Kelly point, which saw the Mullinahone man score despite being off balance and 50 metres from goal, followed as Tipp moved 1-06 to 0-05 ahead, but the 14 men of Limerick stuck manfully to their task.

They managed to match their opponents for the remainder of the half with points from Ollie Moran (0-02), O'Shaughnessy and Barry Foley briefly levelling the game at 0-09 to 1-06.

Ryan O'Dwyer quickly replied for Tipp and although O'Shaughnessy knocked over his third point at the other end, Keating's charges took a two-point lead into the second half with Darragh Egan and Carroll both grabbing late points.

Mindful of the fact that they have not won a Munster Championship match since 2001, Limerick kept plugging away during the early part of the second half.

Tipp's numerical advantage was far from evident as the Shannonsiders managed to level twice through O'Shaughnessy and Mike O'Brien.

Tipp then hit three points on the bounce as Limerick suddenly looked to be flagging - Shane McGrath, substitute Lar Corbett and Ryan, who was registering his fifth point of the day, moved their side 1-14 to 0-14 ahead.

The sides shared out the next four points, with Ollie Moran and O'Shaughnessy cancelling out scores from Woodlock and Egan, before Limerick had their own purple patch.

Fresh legs were beginning to prove crucial as Bennis emptied his bench and subs Michael Fitzgerald and Tobin both fired over before Mike O'Brien raced through to point and level the game for the eighth time, right on the hour mark.

As if taking their cue, Tipp then had another spell of dominance during which Kelly, Ryan (free) and Corbett all found their range for a 1-19 to 0-19 scoreline.

Limerick were nearly out for the count, one more point conceded and they may have hit the canvas, but showing the spirit that ace defender Stephen Lucey had called for in the lead-up to the game, they succeeded in manufacturing a late, levelling goal.

Brian Geary thumped a lengthy free towards the Tipp square, the ball broke free and was ferried out to the lurking Tobin who drove a fierce shot from a left-sided position past Brendan Cummins and his defenders and into the far corner of the net.

Level pegging and that is how it stayed to set up an intriguing replay and many, if not all, of the 26,246 spectators present this afternoon will hope to be on hand at Semple Stadium (throw-in 7pm) next Saturday for what could be another classic duel.

Limerick: B Murray; D Reale (capt), S Lucey, S Hickey; M Foley, B Geary, M O'Riordan; D O'Grady, P Lawlor; Mike O'Brien, O Moran, N Moran; A O'Shaughnessy, S O'Connor, B Foley.

Tipperary: B Cummins; E Buckley, D Fanning, D Fitzgerald; E Corcoran, B Dunne (capt), C O'Mahony; S McGrath, J Woodlock; J Carroll, R O'Dwyer, D Egan; E Kelly, P Bourke, W Ryan.

Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork).