By Mike Fitzpatrick
Limerick 2-14, Tipperary 3-8 Dave Sims’s scoring and the goalkeeping of Finbarr Flood were too much for Tipperary to overcome as Limerick surged to victory in the men’s senior hurling championship game at Gaelic Park.
Limerick’s victory spoiled Tipp’s bid for two straight New York senior titles.
Played under a brilliant October sky before a rare capacity crowd, an otherwise exciting final was marred only by a first-half melee that saw two players sent off.
Tipp’s Ian Duggan foiled a good Limerick move early on with some fine goalkeeping work and his teammates Eugene O’Neill and John Madden were unlucky to see two efforts sail wide of the posts. Limerick’s Sims hit three successive frees over the bar to give his side a nice cushion and, in the meantime, move to the top of the scoring chart. Maurice Nelligan, playing well for his side shot wide of the post followed by another wide from O’Neill.
Tipp’s Mike Kennedy opened the scoring for his side with the first point of the day from play and this was swiftly followed up by an effort over the bar from Owen Cummins. An excellent move which began in Ian Duggan’s box, passing to Shane Ryan, who switched to Tony O’Brien resulted in a goal for Tipp, although O’Brien hit the bar, Eugene O’Neill pounced to slam the ball home giving Tipp the slenderest of leads. Dave Sims and Tom Canty combined to level the score only for Tipp’s Kennedy to score a point and balance the lead in Tipp’s favor.
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The score took on a see-saw effect, with Eamonn Shields scoring a point for Limerick and Cummins again pointing for Tipp. Tipp’s Paul Hogan gave his side a nice lead with a thunderous shot past Finbar Flood. Sims continued his good form with another two points and David Reynolds hit a superb point from the ground to level the tie yet again.
Gary Mernagh, who narrowly missing out on the Man of the Match award, played a blinding game for Tipp, combining with Madden and Cummins to lay siege upon Limerick’s goal. Finbar Flood was up to anything the Tipp side could throw at him, making two outstanding goalbound saves from Pat Croke and Paul Hogan, thoroughly deserving his Player of the Month award.
Limerick fullback John Riordan helped Flood enormously, thwarting many of Tipp’s attacks and firing the ball upfield to the grateful Nelligan, who scored a goal, rejuvenating a tiring Limerick side. Paul Hogan had a goal disallowed following a foul on Flood, and at the other end Jack Foley and Sims again scored points. Tipp’s Cummins and Madden hit one each for Tipp and Madden brought the game within reach with his final point.
Foley, following a good run, hit one over for Limerick. With a 3-point lead before this, Flood made a fantastic double save from Pat Croke and Shane Ryan which, had either gone in, would have leveled the score. Foley’s point proved crucial as Ryan scored a fine goal in the dying seconds.
It’s Limerick’s trophy, and nobody should be thanked more than goalkeeper Finbarr Flood, who proved himself to be a goalkeeper of the highest caliber, even outshining Tipp netminder Duggan. Despite an ugly row that erupted in the first half resulting in the sending off of Tom Sims and Tony O’Brien, this match-up proved to be a highly entertaining spectacle for the capacity crowd at Gaelic Park.
Limerick: Finbarr Flood, John Riordan, Tom Sims, Dave Reynolds (0-1), Tom Canty (0-1), Jack Foley (0-2), Eamonn Coleman, Cathal Kenny, Maurice Nelligan (1-1), Christy Walsh, Eamonn Shields (0-1), Dave Sims (0-8), Owen O’Neill (1-0).
Tipperary: Ian Duggan, Donal Cummins, Gary Mernagh, Jim Darcy, Owen Cummins (0-3), Jim Lyons, Mike Kennedy (0-2), John Madden (0-2), Tony O’Brien, Shane Ryan (1-0), Pat Croke (0-1), Eugene O’Neill (1-0), Paul Hogan (1-0).