All-Ireland champions Limerick are Munster SHC champions for the third year in a row after a miraculous turnaround of fortunes at a sun-drenched Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Having trailed by 10 points at half-time - 2-16 to 0-12 – John Kiely's side went on to win by five points to secure their place in the All-Ireland semi-final thanks to second-half goals from Kyle Hayes and Seamus Flanagan in a closing 35 minutes where Limerick outscored Tipperary by 2-17 to 1-05.
Having conceded a Jake Morris goal after just four minutes, to trail by 1-00 to 0-01 after a slow start to the game, Limerick were given a mountain to climb in blistering heat in Cork when John O’Dwyer broke onto a ball to raise the green flag for the second time in the 19th minute.
Leading by seven points at this stage - 2-08 to 0-07 – Tipperary really pushed on to lead by 10 points at half-time – 2-16 to 0-12 with Jason Forde’s ever-increasing free-taking tally continuing to put daylight between the two sides.
However, a miraculous turn of events ensured Limerick were leading by two points by the second-half water break thanks to a wonderful goal by Flanagan in the 42nd minute before finding an extra gear in the final quarter.
A stunning Hayes solo effort added to Tipperary’s downfall and when the Kildimo-Pallaskenry left half-back blasted home in the 56th minute, there were five points between the two sides – a lead the Treaty men held to the final whistle.
The defending champions made one change to the starting XV that defeated Cork by eight points in Thurles two weeks previously as Graeme Mulcahy was recalled to the starting line-up.
The Kilmallock man came into the full-forward line instead of Aaron Gillane.
2020 All Star Dan Morrissey remained on the substitute bench.
Liam Sheedy, meanwhile, opted for Alan Flynn instead of John McGrath. Flynn slotted in at midfield with Dan McCormack while Michael Breen was moved to the half-forward line.
In the absence of designated free-taker, Dan Morrissey hit the upright after just 38 seconds with the first free of the game.
Both had two wides between inside the opening half before Dan Morrissey opened the scoring with a lovely point from out wide.
Tipperary got the first goal of the game from the next attack as Morris eased passed Richie McCarthy to rustle the back of the net.
A superb Seamus Callanan effort from out on the touchline gave Tipperary a well-deserved four-point advantage at the first water break – 1-08 to 0-07.
On the resumption, Flanagan added to Limerick's wide tally (3) before John O’Dwyer raised the green flag for the second time.
The Killenaule man blasted to the far corner of the net, giving Nicky Quaid no chance.
It was Tipperary 2-16 Limerick 0-12 at half-time
Tipperary recorded eight wides in the opening half, compared to Limerick’s seven.
Limerick got the first three points after the restart - Byrnes (free), Tom Morrissey, Gillane (free) - to gain the momentum and narrow the deficit to seven points – 2-16 to 0-15 in favour of Sheedy’s side.
Moments later, Flanagan did well to take control of a blocked Gillane shot before bundling the ball over the line.
"I'm a little bit red from the sun but also from embarrassment for saying at half-time that Tipp would win handily."— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) July 18, 2021
Henry Shefflin reflects on an extraordinary second half #sundaygame pic.twitter.com/ewdHsgilZY
However, a Dan McCormack point in 43rd minute opened Tipperary’s second-half tally to restore the Premier County’s five-point advantage.
But when Tom Morrissey pointed in the 49th minute it was a three-point game with the momentum really swinging in Limerick’s favour - 2-17 to 1-18
Gillane got the next point to narrow the deficit to two points, and Limerick were astoundingly ahead by two points at the second-half water break thanks a further free from the Patrickswell’s man and a Flanagan effort from play.
Substitute Mark Kehoe grabbed a consolation goal in the dying moments but it proved too little too late for Tipp as Limerick ran out five-point winners with Kiely’s side securing victory during a 16-point turnaround in 22 second-half minutes.
The win was Limerick’s first hat-trick of Munster hurling titles in 85 years.
"We chipped away one point at a time and as the gap closed our confidence grew".— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) July 18, 2021
John Kiely was immensely proud of Limerick players after their remarkable Munster final success. pic.twitter.com/HPYWX0SZBz
Limerick: Nicky Quaid; Sean Finn; Richie English, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes (0-04, 0-02f, 0-01 '65), Declan Hannon (capt.), Kyle Hayes (1-0); William O'Donoghue, Darragh O’Donovan; Gearóid Hegarty (0-03), Cian Lynch (0-01), Tom Morrissey (0-06, 0-01f); Graeme Mulcahy, Seamus Flanagan (1-03), Peter Casey (0-05)
Subs: Dan Morrissey for McCarthy, Aaron Gillane (0-06, 0-04f) for Mulcahy (both 31 mins), David Reidy (0-01) for O’Donoughe (65), Conor Boylan for Tom Morrissey (66), Pat Ryan for Flanagan (68), Robbie Hanley for Lynch (70)
Tipperary: Barry Hogan; Cathal Barrett, Padraic Maher, Ronan Maher (0-01); Seamus Kennedy (0-01), Brendan Maher, Barry Heffernan; Noel McGrath, Alan Flynn; Jason Forde (0-11, 0-03f, 0-01 ‘65), Michael Breen (0-01), Dan McCormack (0-01); John O’Dwyer (1-02), Seamus Callanan (capt.) (0-01), Jake Morris (1-02)
Subs: Willie Connors (0-01) for Flynn (52), Mark Kehoe (1-00) for McGrath (58), Niall O’Meara for O’Dwyer, Paddy Cadell for McCormack (all 56), Brian McGrath for Heffernan (59)
Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)