by Daragh Ó Conchúir
TIPPERARY’S experience of knockout Camogie showed as they ground out victory in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Quarter-Final at Semple Stadium.
Cáit Devane shot seven points from placed balls, five in the second half, and Niamh Lillis’s side had built up enough of a lead to see out the game despite the sending off of an unlucky Ereena Fryday in the 52nd minute.
Fryday was shown a second yellow card by Ray Kelly when attempting to double on a sliotar in the air. She was completely unaware as Karen O’Leary nipped in on her blindside to intercept and receive a glancing blow for her bravery.
There was no hint that Limerick would reel in the deficit as they ran out of ideas in the second half however, though Declan Nash’s troops never stopped battling on their first appearance in the knockout stages for 14 years.
It all looked so good for the Shannonsiders early on, with Niamh Mulcahy on fire. While the normally-reliable freetaker had an off day from set shots, she was a constant threat from play until Grace O’Toole dropped deep to help chaperon the Limerick centre-forward, a move that also allowed Karen Kennedy to thunder into the fray.
In the first half though, Mulcahy was majestic.
Tipp had been forced into a late switch with an injury to full-back Gemma Grace.
That saw Mary Ryan switched back from the midfield berth she has been thriving in this year and though not a position she would be unfamiliar with, Tipp certainly missed the Moneygall star’s dynamism further afield.
Devane gave Tipp the lead with a second-minute point from a free but Mulcahy dispossessed O’Toole before making ground through the middle and clipping over a levellers.
Limerick were awarded a penalty in the fifth minute, after Dearbhla Egan was unceremoniously by Julieanne Bourke but Mulcahy’s low drive was probably was well saved by Caoimhe Bourke.
The Tipp goalie had to be brave to deny Rebecca Delee soon after but Caoimhe Costelloe landed the first of two exceptional points following a clever switch of direction by the eye-catching Niamh Ryan.
Orla O’Dwyer was back from a hamstring injury and getting on plenty of possession but Tipperary were unable to get Devane or Megan Ryan into the game, while the Limerick workrate was monumental, as evidenced by tremendous blocks by Mulcahy and Sarah Carey.
Limerick were not getting scores to reflect their dominance however and they had already conceded an equalising free by Devane when giving up a calamitous goal in the 18th minute.
The industrious Niamh Treacy shot for point but didn’t get the desired purchase on her shot. O’Neill attempted to bat clear rather than catch but got it wrong and the sliotar dropped over the line.
Fryday slotted a point immediately afterwards but anyone thinking the tide had turned irrevocably were quickly disabused of that notion by Mulcahy’s 21st minute wonder goal.
The Ahane artist swooped on a break from a Ryan sideline around 55m out. Fittingly, as the granddaughter of the man credited for inventing the solo run Mick Mackey, and as one of the legends of contemporary Camogie herself, she put on the afterburners, leaving a catalogue of Tipp defenders in her wake.
Fearing being hooked by Kennedy, Mulcahy adroitly changed direction with the sliotar still on the hurley to create the necessary space to get in her strike directly off the stick for a glorious goal.
Devane and Laura Stack exchanged points to leave Tipp leading by 1-4 to 1-3 at half-time.
Mulcahy quickly drew Limerick level but O’Dwyer was leading the way at the other end of the field and with Limerick beginning to concede frees, Devane capitalised, regardless of angle or distance.
Tipp struck the next five points to put the tie to bed, Devane slotting four of them and O’Dwyer a neat score.
Costelloe scored a beauty from tight to the sideline but a brilliant catch by O’Dwyer set up a score for Miriam Campion and there was no way back for Limerick.
SCORERS FOR TIPPERARY: C Devane 0-7(6fs, 1 45); N Treacy 1-0; E Fryday, O O’Dwyer, M Campion 0-1 each
SCORERS FOR LIMERICK: N Mulcahy 1-2; C Costelloe 0-2; L Stack 0-1
TIPPERARY: C Bourke, J Bourke, Mary Ryan, E Loughman, C Quirke, K Kennedy, A McGrath, G O’Toole, N Treacy, O O’Dwyer, Megan Ryan, E Fryday, E McDonald, C Devane, K Blair.
Subs: for Tipperary: M Campion for Blair (45), N Walsh for O’Toole (49), L Loughnane for Treacy (56). G O’Brien for McDonald (60+1)
LIMERICK: L O’Neill, M Ryan, M Creamer, M Quaid, N Ryan, S Carey, J Mulcahy, K O’Leary, R Ambrose, D Murphy, N Mulcahy, C Costelloe, L Stack, R Delee, D Egan.
Subs for Limerick: C Lyons for Egan (34), L Leonard for Stack (41), L McCarthy for Quaid (44), N Curtin for N Ryan (54), K Hennessy for O’Leary inj (60)
REFEREE: Ray Kelly (Kildare)