Tipperary 2-21 Limerick 1-24

Updated: Wednesday, 01 Aug 2007 16:29

Seamus Hickey (r) tries to stop Seamus Butler from scoring Tipperary's opening goal Andrew O'Shaughnessy celebrates scoring the last gasp equaliser
Seamus Hickey (r) tries to stop Seamus Butler from scoring Tipperary's opening goal Andrew O'Shaughnessy celebrates scoring the last gasp equaliser

Limerick and Tipperary served up a 90-minute thriller at Semple Stadium as extra-time failed to decide tonight's Munster SHC semi-final replay - the sides must return to the Gaelic Grounds next Saturday for the third act of their summer saga.

Having trailed by ten points at half-time, Limerick showed remarkable character to force a second replay, with Kilmallock clubman Andrew O'Shaughnessy proving to be his county's saviour on two occasions - first he landed an injury-time free to take the tie to extra-time, and then he held his nerve to point a levelling '65' in the last-minute of extra-time.

Seamus Butler's 22nd-minute goal, allied to the clinical free-taking of Eoin Kelly, helped Tipp to a 1-12 to 0-5 interval lead, but Limerick's comeback, which included a Mike Fitzgerald major and four injury-time points, set up the prospect of extra-time.

Despite a well-taken Darragh Egan goal moving Tipp two points clear, the Shannonsiders showed even more grit to cut the lead back down to a single point and O'Shaughnessy arrowed over a controversial '65' to have the final say in front of an enthralled 27,117-strong crowd.

Tipperary manager Babs Keating ensured there was drama even before the throw-in as he made four surprise changes to his side from last week's draw.

The dropping of veteran goalkeeper Brendan Cummins provided the biggest talking point, but Killenaule's Gerry Kennedy, Tipp's Under-21 'keeper last season, was a more than able deputy.

Kennedy saved a first half penalty from O'Shaughnessy and his pin-point puck outs played their part as Tipp's outfield players built up what looked to be an unassailable lead.

Keating moved captain Benny Dunne from centre back to centre forward, with Ryan O'Dwyer ruled out with a broken thumb and Hugh Maloney a new inclusion at left half-back.

Seamus Butler and Lar Corbett were also new inclusions in the full-forward line, with Pa Bourke and Willie Ryan making way.

Limerick, who named their team in mid-week, lined out as selected with Pat Tobin, their goal-scoring hero from last week, replacing injured full-forward Sean O'Connor.

Richie Bennis' men started well with early points from Brian Geary (free) and Niall Moran, but Tipp looked the more well-oiled unit, with their defence and midfield offering solidity and their forward lines showing admirable accuracy.

The Premier county gobbled up their scoring chances in the first half, shooting only two wides to Limerick's seven. Points from Benny Dunne and Eoin Kelly quickly levelled the sides at 0-2 apiece.

Both Corbett and Kelly had goal-scoring chances in the first 10 minutes, with Kelly crashing a shot off the crossbar and while O'Shaughnessy levelled again at 0-3 apiece, the remainder of the half belonged to Tipperary.

Points from Butler, Dunne and Kelly followed, with Ollie Moran offering a sole reply for the men in green.

0-6 to 0-4 ahead, Tipp then snuck through for their first goal.

It was an excellent strike, created and finished by Butler who controlled the sliotar, then turned inside the flat-footed Damien Reale and darted along the end line before firing a powerful shot past Brian Murray.

Butler quickly added a point, taking his personal tally to 1-2, and Tipp were soon pulling away as Kelly hit the game's next three points for a 1-10 to 0-4 scoreline.

In between, O'Shaughnessy was brought to ground for a 26th-minute penalty.

He dusted himself off to take it but his strike was brilliantly blocked by new net minder Kennedy and cleared as the pendulum swung further in Tipp's favour.

O'Shaughnessy did manage to end a 14-minute scoreless spell for his side just before the break when he sent over a free, but points from Corbett and Darragh Egan gave Tipp a healthy ten-point buffer for the second half.

By that stage, Tipp looked well on their way to contesting their third Munster SHC final in-a-row.

Nonetheless, Limerick heads never dropped and they began the second half with renewed urgency.

Geary (free) and Niall Moran, who sneaked over his second point, immediately whittled the lead down to eight points.

Tipp's advantage waivered between seven and ten points over the first 20 minutes of the second period.

Defender Eamonn Corcoran bisected the posts with an inspiring sideline cut from the right wing in the 41st-minute.

Egan and Kelly tagged on further scores for Keating's side, who watched Butler have a shot saved by Murray after another lightning burst forward by the Drom and Inch attacker.

O'Shaughnessy, Niall Moran and substitutes Mike Fitzgerald and Kevin Tobin helped Limerick hit double figures before Fitzgerald found the back of the Tipp net in the 56th-minute.

Just as he did for Tobin's late goal last Sunday, Geary dangled in a long ball on top of the Tipp defence, Ollie Moran claimed it and offloaded neatly for Fitzgerald who succeeded in beating Kennedy with the subtlest of touches.

Tipp bounced back to register points through Butler and James Woodlock, but Limerick continued to scrap for possession and scores followed from Kevin Tobin, Mike O'Brien and substitute James O'Brien as referee Brian Gavin's watch hit the 70-minute mark.

Incredibly, Limerick, whose substitutions worked a treat, were back within touching distance - James O'Brien's 70th-minute point had the score at 1-19 to 1-15.

A goal was what Bennis' side were really craving, however an outstanding run of point-scoring in injury-time, which saw the excellent Ollie Moran crack over three points in two-and-a-half minutes, had Limerick suddenly just a point in arrears.

They then got the score they needed in the last seconds of added time as O'Shaughnessy won and pointed a close range free to sent the game to extra-time.

Now armed with a slight psychological edge, Limerick continued where they left off when extra-time began.

James O'Brien pointed after only nine seconds of play to put Bennis' men in front for the first time in over an hour.

There were tired legs all over the pitch and while the quality of hurling dipped, both sides continued to press for the match-winning scores.

Tipp looked to have landed a considerable blow in the second-minute of extra-time.

Kelly found Egan with an excellent pass and the former Under-21 starlet smashed home his side's second goal for a 2-19 to 1-20 lead.

Tipp were still ahead, leading 2-21 to 1-22, at the end of the first half of extra-time - points from Kelly and Corbett, who was replaced but brought back on for extra-time, saw to that.

But Tipp's scoring chances dried up in the second period, despite the introduction of impressive youngster Danny O'Hanlon.

Possession was swaying towards Limerick and they somehow managed to book a third day out for both sides. It was far from pretty, but neither side deserved to lose in the end.

After Mark Foley had cut the gap to the minimum once again, Limerick supporters had seven nerve-jangling minutes to wait until O'Shaughnessy, who moments earlier had missed a goal chance, coolly pointed that last-gasp '65', which was awarded in controversial circumstances.

As Limerick pressed for the equaliser, Geary sent another ball skywards and in towards Tipperary territory.

Big substitute Brian Begley was the target, and Tipp just could not clear the sliotar out of the danger area. Despite what looked like a stray Limerick hurl sending the ball out over the endline, the umpire awarded a '65'.

O'Shaughnessy stepped up to raised a final white flag and give Limerick another chance to end their six-year wait for a Munster championship win.

LIMERICK: B Murray, D Reale (capt), S Lucey, S Hickey; M O’Riordan, B Geary (0-2, 0-2f), M Foley (0-1); P Lawlor, D O’Grady; N Moran (0-3), O Moran (0-5), Mike O’Brien; P Tobin, A O’Shaughnessy (0-6, 0-5f, 1 ‘65’), B Foley.

Subs used: B Begley for Lawlor (34 mins), M Fitzgerald (1-3) for B Foley (half-time), D Ryan for Tobin (50), K Tobin (0-2) for N Moran (54), James O’Brien (0-2) for Mike O’Brien (61), Maurice O’Brien for Reale (81), N Moran for O’Grady (82), P Tobin for Ryan (83).

TIPPERARY: G Kennedy; E Buckley, D Fanning, D Fitzgerald; E Corcoran (0-1, 1 sl), C O’Mahony, H Maloney; S McGrath, J Woodlock (0-1); J Carroll, B Dunne (capt) (0-2), D Egan (1-2); S Butler (1-3), E Kelly (0-9, 0-6f), L Corbett (0-3).

Subs used: P Bourke for Corbett (52 mins), T Stapleton for Corcoran (62), D O’Hanlon for Woodlock (70), R O’Dwyer for Bourke (73), Corbett for McGrath (80), W Ryan for Butler (90)

Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly)