Lynch inspires Limerick comeback to claim three in a row

Munster Senior Hurling Championship Final
By Matt O’Callaghan


Limerick captain Declan Hannon raises the Mickey Mackey Cup after they defeated Tipperary in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday last. – Munster Hurling Final — Photo by Den O’Brien

Inspired by 2018 Hurler of the Year, Cian Lynch, Limerick, staged a dramatic comeback as they stormed to victory over Tipperary in a classic Munster final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday.
Trailing by ten points at half time, Limerick’s dream of a first three in a row since 1936 looked in tatters until the Patrick-swell magician clicked into top gear and in an incredible third quarter Limerick scored 1-10 to Tipperary’s single point in the third quarter to lay the foundation for one of the most famous and sweetest victories of John Kiely’s reign.
Nobody in the 7,000 spectators lucky to procure tickets for this latest epic in Munster Hurling annals could have expected what was to unfold when the great rivals renewed hostilities in the sweltering Leeside sunshine after half time.
Limerick’s first half lethargy was clearly deposited in the dressing room waste bin as Kiley; men hit the pristine turf like men possessed. Any remaining vestige of doubt about their worthiness to be champions was quickly dispelled as they registered 1-10 to Tipperary’s single point with a display of power hurling and skill at its very best and the type that make hurling a beautiful but simple game.
Cian Lynch conducted the fine-tuned Limerick orchestra in the second half, the goal for the ages from Kyle Hayes, the impact of Aaron Gillane, the outstanding defensive work of Barry Nash, nine more points from the Hegarty-Morrissey twin threat, the power of Séamus Flanagan, the wizardry of Peter Casey all feeding into a cocktail that blew an unsuspecting Tipperary fifteen away in the second half.
In that second half Liam Sheedy’s men could only watch in awe and admire what Limerick brought to the table, the ruthlessness, passion skill and scoring power.
For Tipperary a memorable first half performance quickly turned into a nightmare. In the opening 35 minutes Liam Sheedy’s men ticked all the boxes as they exploited an uncharacteristically flat Limerick side who had just not turned up the party. They got two well worked goals and Jason Forde was immense cropping up everywhere and slotting over points for fun, the Silvermines marksman had five from play by the first water break.
Given the Premier County’s first half performance which was near perfect, it is hard to not see them being very much in the mix for ultimate honours. Sheedy and his men are obviously stung by the manner of this reversal but do have it within them to bounce back from this latest defeat to neighbours who are now becoming very much their bogey team.
Limerick were first off the mark with a 4th minute Tom Morrissey point. The Premier County response was swift with Jake Morris racing on to a breaking ball and giving Nickie Quaid no chance from close range to which Jason Forde added a point.
By the 10th minute, it was 1-4 to 0-4 to Liam Sheedy’s men after points from Jason Forde (2) and Dan McCormack added to their side’s tally with Séamus Flanagan, Cian Lynch and Peter Casey replying for the All-Ireland champions.
By the first water break, Tipperary had extended the advantage to four points 1-8 to 0-7 following three further Jason Forde points with Gearóid Hegarty, Séamus Flanagan and Tom Morrissey on the mark for John Kiely’s men.
Tipperary tightened their grip on proceedings immediately after the resumption of action with a Séamus Callanan point and a cracking goal from John O’Dwyer.
Limerick now reeling hit back with points from Tom Morrissey and Diarmaid Byrnes which were quickly cancelled out by similar efforts from Séamus Kennedy and John O’Dwyer.
Tom Morrissey kept the scoreboard ticking over for Limerick but his third point of the game was trumped by four in a row from now rampant Tipperary from Jason Forde (2), Jake Morris and John O’Dwyer, 2-14 to 0-10 with five minutes to go to half time.
Aaron Gillane on his introduction swapped points with Forde as did Diarmaid Byrnes from a free with the Tipperary sharpshooter to complete the first half scoring with Premier County clearly in the ascendency 2-16 to 0-12.
After a slow start to the second half, Limerick clicked into gear and reeled off three points in a row from Diarmaid Byrnes, Tom Morrissey and Aaron Gillane and suddenly the Premier County were beginning to reappear on the horizon.
They were back in sight distance on the 43rd minute when a powerful Aaron Gillane shot was brilliantly saved by Tipperary net minder Barry Hogan but the Kiladangan man could not prevent Séamus Flanagan from putting the ball in the net.
Aaron Gillane from a free and Jake Morris exchanged points before Limerick went on a run that yielded six unanswered points from Gillane, Morrissey, Gillane two in a row Séamus Flanagan and Peter Casey to complete the turnaround by the second water break at which stage Limerick now led 1-22 to 2-17.
It was almost game, set and match within two minutes of the restart after a sublime lay off from Cian Lynch into the path of Kyle Hayes in full flight at the Kildimo-Pallaskenry giant careered at speed through the Tipperary defence leaving defenders in his wake and bouncing the ball off the Páirc Uí Chaoimh turf twice before blasting an unstoppable shot past Barry Hogan. A strong contender for Goal of the Year and a goal for the ages.
Peter Casey added a point as Limerick were unstoppable and though Willie Connors slotted over a Tipperary point, it was quickly trumped by points from Diarmaid Byrnes and Gearóid Hegarty.
Ronan Maher, Michael Breen and Jason Forde a free added points for the Premier which were cancelled out by efforts from David Reidy, Gearóid Hegarty and Peter Casey.
A fine goal finished by substitute Mark Kehoe gave Tipperary something to cling to as they headed backs to the valleys of Slievnamon.
Peter Casey did have the last say with his fifth point of a memorable contest.
Scorers: Limerick: Tom Morrissey 1f, Aaron Gillane 4fs 0-6 each; Séamus Flanagan 1-3; Peter Casey 0-5; Diarmaid Byrnes 0-4, 2fs, 1-65; Kyle Hayes 1-0; Gearóid Hegarty 0-3; Cian Lynch, David Reidy 0-1 each.
Tipperary: Jason Forde 0-11, 3fs, 1-65; Jake Morris, John O’Dwyer 1-2 each; Mark Kehoe 1-0; Dan McCormack, Séamus Callanan, Séamus Kennedy, Willie Connors, Ronan Maher, Michael Breen 0-1 each.
Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Seán Finn, Richie English, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; William O’Donoghue, Darragh O’Donovan; Gearóid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey; Graeme Mulcahy, Séamus Flanagan, Peter Casey.
Subs: Aaron Gillane for Graeme Mulcahy (31), Dan Morrissey for Richie English (31), David Reidy for Darragh O’Donovan (64), Conor Boylan for Tom Morrissey (66), Pat Ryan for Séamus Flanagan (68), Robbie Hanley for Cian Lynch (70).
Tipperary: Barry Hogan; Cathal Barrett, Pádraic Maher, Ronan Maher; Séamus Kennedy, Brendan Maher, Barry Heffernan; Noel McGrath, Alan Flynn; Jason Forde, Michael Breen, Dan McCormack; John O’Dwyer, Séamus Callanan, Jake Morris.
Subs: Willie Connors for Alan Flynn (52), Mark Kehoe for Noel McGrath (56), Niall O’Meara for John O’Dwyer (56), Paddy Cadell for Dan McCormack (56), Brian McGrath for Barry Heffernan (58).
Referee: Paud O’Dwyer, Carlow.