Cause for Tipp optimism and more talking points from Limerick’s Munster SHC win

Limerick are clearly going from strength to strength, but there’s plenty of reason to be cheerful for the Premier County.

1. Limerick’s late show

TWO YEARS AGO Limerick travelled to Thurles where they put in a storming start to the game but were pegged back by Tipperary’s powerful burst in the closing 20 minutes of the game. Shane Dowling and Gavin O’Mahony spoke after today’s game about how that late fadeout had played on their minds.

When returning to Semple Stadium this afternoon, Limerick made their presence felt at the finish. With the tension ratcheted up, Tipperary looked to have gained a decisive grip when Denis Maher sent them three points in front with three minutes left. But Limerick made the decisive dash for the line to reel off an unanswered 1-2 and claim the spoils.

2. Limerick march on as reigning champions

For the second successive year, Limerick will contest a Munster senior hurling final. You have to go back to 1995-1996 for the last time the county featured in two successive provincial senior hurling deciders. This is a feat that they will cherish.

Patrick Maher scores his side's first goal despite Richie McCarthy, Tom Condon and Paul Browne

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The raucous scenes amongst their players and fans at the final whistle demonstrated how much this win meant to them. It’s been a trying spring with Donal O’Grady departing and league promotion eluding them but today they delivered on a championship Sunday. Their staying power in Munster has been affirmed.

3. Qualifiers beckon for Tipperary

Tipperary have been forced to absorb the pains of defeat at the semi-final stage in Munster for the second year running. It’s in stark contrast to the run of glory that yielded four Munster titles between 2008 and 2012.

The road to rehabilitation will start for O’Shea’s team in phase 2 of the qualifiers. Dublin, Wexford, Kilkenny and Galway are their prospective opponents. Last year they tried to pick themselves back up but were felled by Kilkenny. Can the qualifiers be a more successful route this time?

4. The impact of Bonner and Gearoid

Tipperary were left to lick the wounds of defeat but there was some solace for them in the form of Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher and Gearoid Ryan. Two of the pillars of the team that claimed the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 2010, the duo have been plagued with injuries of late as they sought to regain their form.

Gearoid Ryan and James Ryan

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Eamon O’Shea spoke last week of his hope that they would become ‘important players’ for Tipperary this summer and today offered evidence of that. Fitness restored both players grabbed goals, Maher’s direct running caused all sorts of problems for Limerick while Ryan bagged a brace of points. Their contribution is a source of optimism for Tipperary.

5. Seamus Hickey has the last word

If you’re searching for a defining image of today’s game, look no further than Seamus Hickey’s late insurance point for Limerick. Last August he lay crumpled in agony on the Croke Park turf after tearing his cruciate ligament on a miserable afternoon for his county against Clare.

Seamus Hickey celebrates scoring a point

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

In his first competitive game for Limerick since that afternoon, Hickey made his mark. He was excellent throughout in defence and then stormed upfield for that rousing late score. It was an arduous road to regain fitness yet Hickey achieved it and has cause for celebration tonight.

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