McGrath Cup Senior Football Tipperary 2-14 University of Limerick 0-13
TIPPERARY senior football manager John Evans declared himself pleased with his team's first competitive outing of the New Year as the Premier County secured a seven-point victory against University of Limerick in the McGrath Cup last Sunday.
Tipp came good with a strong second half display to see off the challenge of the students at Sean Treacy Park in Tipperary town, on a sod which was in remarkably good condition.
Leading by just a point at half-time, 2-4 to 0-9, Tipp added an impressive haul of ten points in the second half and ultimately, it was a run of seven unanswered scores in a 13-minute spell which sealed victory.
Tipp's victory sets up a quarter-final clash against Waterford at Walsh Park next Sunday and on last Sunday's evidence, a semi-final appearance is most achievable for Tipperary.
The first half display was understandably sluggish following the two-month ban on collective intercounty training while UL looked sharper with some sustained work behind them as they look ahead to the forthcoming Sigerson Cup campaign.
But in the second half, Tipp found an extra gear and with Brian Mulvihill and Barry Grogan leading the attacking charge, the tide turned comprehensively.
Evans introduced some new blood into his team as JK Brackens man Lorcan Egan started at centre back, flanked by Moyle Rovers youngster Dara Dwyer.
Evans also revealed that Aherlow pair Cathal Dillon and Seamus Grogan have returned to the fold while Timmy Dalton, a member of the extended senior hurling panel, also made an appearance from the bench.
However, Evans revealed that former team captain Robbie Costigan, an inspirational defender, may not be available this year as the Cahir man is considering the prospect of travelling abroad.
Evans said: "Robbie is betwixt and between. He has a double suppressed fracture of his cheekbone. Not only did it happen once but he went out and played a game when he shouldn't have and got a belt on it again. I think that may influence him and he may go travelling but six guys walked in the door so I'm not complaining."
On a cold Sunday afternoon in Tipp town, Tipperary's final haul of 2-14 against UL was most impressive and Evans agreed: "It was good scoring. You could see very evidently that it was very rusty in the first half but we got two goals which gave us a cushion and we came out and kicked ten points in the second half. That's what I asked of them at half time. It was a bit of a funny scoreboard, 2-4, and we had a little puff of a breeze.
"The scoring goals were down that end too (first half) so in the second half I was well pleased that we came out and kicked ten points. We tried out a few new guys and I was pleased with those - Lorcan Egan, Dara Dwyer and Cathal Dillon got games.
"We were rusty but we enjoyed it. To be fair to UL, they were good and lively and well fit. They did a good bit of work over the Christmas and our lads had to open up the lungs a small bit."
Mulvihill bagged 1-4 while Barry Grogan notched five points from play and created both first half goals for Tipperary.
But the star of the show was a Tipperary man in the opposition ranks as Borrisokane's Philip Austin kicked six superb points from play - three in each half.
The sides were level on five occasions before Tipperary stepped on the gas to book a spot in the last eight of the competition.
And Evans will have been particularly pleased by the scoring spread with eight different players on target.
Goalkeeper Paul Fitzgerald also played his part with a couple of smart saves while corner back Andrew Morrissey also impressed, along with the returning Seamus Grogan in attack.
Grogan, brother of Barry, played no part in last year's championship campaign as he was forced abroad in search of employment but his return to the squad is a major fillip for Tipperary.
At half-time, Tipp led by just a point as Stephen Hahessy netted in the 13th minute after taking a pass from Barry Grogan before a quick Grogan free placed Mulvihill for Tipp's second green flag in the 24th minute.
Tipperary went close to a third goal sixteen minutes from time but UL goalkeeper Joe Lyster, who had replaced starting netminder Brian Scanlan, produced a superb point blank save to keep out Peter Acheson's fisted effort.
Scorers for Tipperary: B Mulvihill 1-4 (0-2f, 0-1 45), B Grogan 0-5, S Hahessy 1-0, G Hannigan, S Grogan, C Sweeney, N Curran & T Dalton (f), 0-1 each.
Scorers for University of Limerick: P Austin 0-6, C Dempsey 0-3 (1f), P Kennelly 0-2 (1f), D Ryan & J Sherwood 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY: Paul Fitzgerald (Fethard); David Buckley (Inane Rovers), Paddy Codd (Killenaule), Andrew Morrissey (Galtee Rovers); Ciaran McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Lorcan Egan (JK Brackens), Dara Dwyer (Moyle Rovers); George Hannigan (Shannon Rovers), Alan Rockett (Carrick Swan); Stephen Hahessy (Carrick Swan), Seamus Grogan (Aherlow), Brian Mulvihill (Moyle Rovers); Conor Sweeney (Ballyporeen), Brian Coen (Fethard), Barry Grogan (Aherlow).
Subs: Niall Curran (Mullinahone) for Buckley (blood sub, 34), Peter Acheson (Moyle Rovers) for Rockett (45), Brian Jones (Arravale Rovers) for Coen (45), Timmy Dalton (Arravale Rovers) for Sweeney (60), Cathal Dillon (Aherlow) for Hannigan (67).
UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK: B Scanlan (Limerick); D O'Sullivan (Cork), M Dalton (Westmeath), F Fitzgerald (Kerry); D Ryan (Clare), N Coyne (Galway), S Hickey (Limerick); A O'Donovan (Kerry), T Ladden (Kerry); B Fox (Tipperary), P Austin (Tipperary), J Sherwood (Kerry); P Kennelly (Kerry), K O'Sullivan (Cork), C Dempsey (Mayo).
Subs: M Geaney (Kerry) for Sherwood (h.t.), D Rattigan (Galway) for D O'Sullivan (h/t), J Lyster (Kildare) for Scanlan (50), M Cahalane (Cork) for Hickey (51), R Kenny (Westmeath) for Fitzgerald (58).
Referee: Michael Collins (Cork).