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In spirited encounter, Tipp top hurling champions

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter


Tipperary 1-15

Limerick 2-6

By Peter Nolan

When the last two champions met in Sunday’s New York GAA senior hurling match at Gaelic Park, fireworks were to be expected. Unfortunately, although the game remained close into the final quarter, the sparks came in a last-second fight. The fisticuffs caused referee Vinny Norton to wave off the final 10 seconds of the match in order to keep the peace. By that time, however, Tipperary had the match in hand, downing defending champions Limerick 1-15 to 2-6.

Tipp were the more balanced side, while Limerick were somewhat shorthanded. Kevin Kennedy of Tipperary and Dave Simms of Limerick exchanged points to open the match. Tipp were sharper at the outset and quickly stretched their advantage through points from Kennedy, again, Pat Walsh and Robbie Ryan. Tipperary supplemented their home-based squad with the Walsh brothers, wing forward Pat and midfielder Tom. It may seem odd for Tipperary to look to Carlow for hurlers, but the Walsh brothers showed themselves to be quite adept.

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Callaghan McCarthy alertly pounced on a poor clearance from Alan Casey in the Tipperary goal and his three-pointer leveled the match.

Tipp quickly launched another attack on Finbar Flood’s goal, but cornerback Tom Simms made a saving tackle. Most of the action was in the Limerick end of the pitch. Kevin Kennedy and Tom Walsh put Tipperary back on top and then made some changes to shore up their advantage.

The Tipp sideline installed Tim Cullen between the posts and switched center forward John Madden with Tom Walsh. Wingback Sean Shepard made a good interception and slotted over a nice point. With Madden flourishing in his new role, Tipp were in ascendance. Robbie Ryan pointed and Kevin Kennedy raced through the Limerick defense before firing to Limerick’s twines. Tipperary almost added another goal, but Kevin Kennedy struck his shot just after the buzzer sounded for the half.

Limerick came out of the blocks well to start the second half with marksman Dave Simms rifling over a nice long-range point. Madden and Michael Carroll, from a free, responded to the Limerick challenge, but their old rivals kept fighting back. Veteran forward Brendan Cagney pointed and then earned a penalty, which Dave Simms duly deposited in the Tipperary goal.

Simms’s goal brought Limerick within two points, 1-10 to 2-5, but once again Tipperary were up to the task. Pat Walsh absorbed a hard, clean hit from Tom Simms but still got his point. Dave Simms and Madden exchanged points, but Limerick could not sustain a consistent attack. This was due in large part to Owen Cummins. The powerful number six was a roadblock that Limerick simply could not pass and his two late frees capped a powerful performance for the New York county man.

Then came the last-second scrum and referee Norton wisely ended the proceedings. These two teams will surely meet again with more at stake.

Man of the match: Owen Cummins.

Tipperary: Alan Casey, Sean Quirke, Owen Cummins (0-2), Phil Ryan, Sean Shepard (0-1),Willie Hackett, Mike Kennedy, Tom Walsh (0-2), Pat Walsh (0-2), John Madden (0-2), Robbie Ryan (0-2), Michael Carroll (0-1), Kevin Kennedy (1-3).

Limerick: Finbar Flood, John Riordan, Tom Simms, Paul Cotter, Ted O’Halpin, Tadgh O’Callaghan, Michael Stritch, Donald Fitzgibbon, James McSweeney, Adrian Lynch, Dave Simms (1-5), Callaghan McCarthy (1-0), Brendan Cagney (0-1).

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