Tony Considine: Limerick got away with a lazy start and Gillane's wild pull

Champions are capable of far more but the bottom line is they have the class to get results even when playing poorly
Tony Considine: Limerick got away with a lazy start and Gillane's wild pull

Barry Nash of Limerick races up field against Tipperary. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

AT the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday I found the atmosphere very muted even before the game. 

No one really up for it and you could tell from the number of Tipp supporters that they were just coming out of duty: they knew that the show was over. 

Even the Limerick supporters weren't as fired up as you would expect even though they were playing the enemy from across the border. There was no tension in the air, it was more like people coming out of mass than a Munster Championship game.

I felt looking at both teams in their warm-ups that this was going to be more like a challenge match than a full-blooded Munster championship game.

I was looking at Limerick and they did not appear to be fully up for the battle. Players going around very casually, maybe believing everything that was being said all week but championship games are not like, that no matter what the circumstances. 

Limerick played like that for a long time.

Tipperary on the other hand were well up for this; pride can be a great motivator at times.

Tipperary tore into Limerick all over the field, physically standing up to every challenge and playing some very good hurling with Noel McGrath directing operations and the Tipperary defence Craig Morgan and Cathal Barrett playing like tigers. 

Also, Ronan Maher was dominating Kyle Hayes. Tipperary were well on top in the first half and should have been more ahead at half time.

Limerick were struggling and looked very lacklustre and flat in their approach, their defence was under pressure, with only Sean Finn and Barry Nash doing well. Limerick's much highly-rated half-back line were being pulled all over the place with Ger Browne giving Diarmuid Byrnes the runaround and scoring some fine points. 

Noel McGrath of Tipperary in action against Darragh O'Donovan of Limerick on Sunday. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Noel McGrath of Tipperary in action against Darragh O'Donovan of Limerick on Sunday. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Also Jake Morris was getting some good scores, and the movement of the Tipp forwards was causing serious problems for Limerick. With Barry Heffernan playing very well in the middle of the field, you could see how Limerick were under massive pressure. 

I'd say John Kiely was very anxious to get them into the dressing room to get them right and to tell them where they were going wrong. They needed to be more aggressive and above all to get their minds right.

They were playing like a lazy team and not putting in the hard work that is required at this level.

In the second half, Limerick's attitude was a little better, but Tipperary were still on top, although missing a lot of chances, including a great goal chance. 

It was well into the second half before Limerick really woke up, and when they did they played the hurling we know they are capable of playing. An inspirational score from Barry Nash when he went the length of the field was the turning point. Limerick's mojo was back after that. 

They were now winning all the individual battles and of course, Tipperary started to tire, and no better team to take advantage; a few subs with fresh legs saw the game out for them. 

GREAT REFLECTION

David Reidy and especially Conor Boylan did very well when they came on. To score 3-21 playing poorly for most of the game is a great reflection of a team. 

Aaron Gillane was a lucky man to stay on the pitch after a wild pull on Ronan Maher though. He's so important to their attack. 

He always seems to get scores when they need them most but he has got to be careful with that hurley. All referees won't be as lenient as Liam Gordon.

Upwards and onwards for Limerick. 

Next stop Ennis. It won't take too much out of them, the journey is short.

I do not think you will see too many of these players on the field next Sunday as Limerick have little to play for. They are almost certainly through to the Munster final, a lovely position to be in.

Colm Boner has done ok with the hand he has been dealt, a lot of players retired or out through injury. It's unusual to be out so early in the championship though.

 At least they will have no interference with the hay saving and the silage cutting this year, but I believe they will have a lot of interruptions next year. 

Tipp have a lot of talent coming, and I believe it will start next year.

Roll on next weekend.

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