The Tony Considine column: Limerick delivered a blow Tipp won't recover from

The Tony Considine column: Limerick delivered a blow Tipp won't recover from
Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

IT'S a long time since I have seen the Gaelic Grounds as packed as it was. A cracking atmosphere created by both sets of supporters, wonderful weather and a pitch looking perfect. 

Everything was set up for what everyone was expecting, myself included, to be a great Munster final.

We got a fairly average first half with the teams level on several occasions, even though Tipperary were putting out fires all over the place. Only for Ronan Maher and Brendan Maher who ended up at corner-back on Aaron Gillane and keeper Brian Hogan, who made some magnificent saves, this would have been over even at half time.

There was optimism for Tipperary that despite everyone playing so poorly they were still only two points down. It didn't stay that way for long in the second half as Limerick got on top all over the field and scored at will. Whatever about putting out fires in the first half, this was an inferno.

I got the call on this game very wrong. I thought Tipperary's skill would be too much for the physical power of Limerick, but as Ali once said: "Everyone is a good boxer until they get punched in the face." 

That is what happened to Tipperary here. The power, and skill of Limerick, swept Tipp aside.

I suppose the question on everyone's mind is what happened Tipperary. Why were they lacking so much energy and aggression? These are things very important in any match but especially in a Munster final. 

Did they do all their hurling in the early rounds? They did not reach any of the heights they had in previous games. Is there a reason for that? 

From my own experience of being involved with players that are around for a long time, the day comes when all your older established players run out of energy and legs. The more games you play the more likely that is to happen. Tipperary hit that spot.

Noel McGrath, who has been having a great year up to now, looked like a spent force. Pádraic Maher wasn't dominating. James Barry was under pressure all day. Three vital players in three vital positions, all leaders in this team. 

They were very much targeted by Limerick's Cian Lynch, who was outstanding in the middle of the field, Kyle Hayes, running at every opportunity to drag Maher out of position, and the on-form Peter Casey.

His movement was brilliant all day, 1-5 from play. Tom Morrissey and the other powerful man Gearóid Hegarty also upset for the Tipperary defence.

Limerick played with a great unity of purpose, completely snuffing out the Tipperary attack. Mike Casey at full-back and Declan Hannon at centre-back weren't troubled. 

Of course, Nicky Quaid in goals was his usual solid self, bringing off a great save from Seamus Callinan, but I think the Tipperary attack showed no appetite for the fight. They did not want to take any hardship. Very unusual for a Tipp team.

I know they were missing the real leader of that attack, Bonner Maher, but that doesn't make an excuse for other guys opting out. You would think that would be the time to do it for Bonner, and not to lie down. The second half looked like a challenge game.

Obviously, that is not Limerick's fault. They are a team that has matured a lot and that is what you expect from All-Ireland champions. 

Knowing John Kiely he will not get carried away. They are straight into a semi-final now which for me is the proper way to go.

But I think no matter how many games they play, they won't get anything easier than this game, and I think they know that too.

Liam Sheedy has a lot to be thinking about for the next couple of weeks and more importantly how is he going to get more out of these players? He has a very difficult job now.

I heard people saying coming out of the game that these two teams could meet again in an All-Ireland final but I don't think so after that. While Limerick have every chance of being in it, and it is not a given, I think Tipperary are really going to earn it.

I sent a text to a friend of mine during the match saying that it was men against boys, but his reply was "not men against boys, but young men against old men".

I think that sums it up perfectly!

That's Munster over for this year and well done to Limerick. 82 years since they held the three together: All-Ireland, National League and Munster champs.

They are doing things the right way in Limerick now.

Being busy at the Munster final I did not get to see the Leinster showdown, but what a great win for Wexford, straight into the All-Ireland semi-final. I'd say there will be a lot of dancing at the crossroads for this win. 

They will bring great support and colour to the occasion, but I suppose Kilkenny are not gone away yet. Same as Cork and Tipperary now they are taking the scenic route and all three have the tradition.

It's always edgy for the others when they are hanging around.

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