Tipp win over Meath puts them into All Ireland final.
SHANE Ronayne’s Tipperary survived a huge scare before sealing a spot in the TG4 All-Ireland ladies intermediate football final on September 24.
The Premier County led by 13 points midway through the second half of Saturday’s semi-final against Meath at Semple Stadium - but were left clinging on for a three-point win.
Ronayne had his bench emptied with nine minutes left but Tipp were still well in control and leading by ten points down the home straight.
Jennifer Grant had been excellent in a sweeping role but the Brian Borus player was ill in the days leading up to the game and came off with 20 minutes left.
Ronayne also whipped off Aishling Moloney, who scored 1-4 but was an injury concern before the game and listed as number 28 on the match programme.
And when Meath scored 1-4 without reply in the closing minutes, including a Stacey Grimes penalty, Tipp were sweating it out before sealing a first intermediate final appearance since 2013.
Beaten semi-finalists against Clare last year, Munster champions Tipp have now gone a step further – and they’ll face Sligo or Tyrone at Croker next month.
While big holes appeared in the Tipp defence late on, they were brilliant in attack for spells of a high-scoring encounter.
Gillian O’Brien shot the lights out with a haul of 1-7 from play – including 1-5 in the first half – while Moloney sparkled and Orla O’Dwyer contributed 1-3.
Tipp landed 3-17 of their big winning tally from play but Meath, who had a huge display from Aoibhin Cleary, kept going right to the end even when faced with a huge deficit.
Tipp led by 2-11 to 1-7 at half-time and were full value for that seven-point interval lead.
The sides were level three times within the opening six minutes but a run of 2-2 without reply gave Tipp the upper hand.
The goals were cracking efforts from Tipp, O’Dwyer managing to get a left-footed effort away under severe pressure for the first, before Moloney, Róisín Howard and Mairead Morrissey created the opening for O’Brien’s effort.
Those goals were scored in a 36-second spell in the ninth minute and handed Tipp a 2-4 to 0-3 lead.
The gap was out to eight on a couple of occasions approaching the break but Meath, who had three first half points from Cleary, gave themselves a chance when Marion Farrelly pounced on a poor restart for a 25th-minute goal and that reduced the margin to five – 1-6 to 2-8.
But Tipp regrouped quickly and gave themselves a decent platform to work from ahead of the second half.
And this game looked done and dusted when Moloney crashed home a brilliant 35th-minute goal at the Killinan End.
Tipp kicked on to twice lead by 13 points twice but Meath weren’t finished and the Royals had the nerves of home fans jangling before referee Garryowen McMahon’s final whistle.
Scorers for Tipperary – G O’Brien 1-7, A Moloney 1-4, O O’Dwyer 1-3, A McCarthy 0-2f, M Morrissey, C Condon & R Howard 0-1 each.
Scorers for Meath – S Grimes 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-3f), M Farrelly 1-2, A Cleary 0-5, N O’Sullivan 0-3, E Troy & V Wall 0-2 each, O Byrne 0-1.
Tipperary – L Fitzpatrick; S Condon, M Curley, B Condon; E Buckley, S Lambert, L Dillon; A McCarthy, A Moloney; M Morrissey, R Howard, J Grant; N Lonergan, G O’Brien, O O’Dwyer.
Subs – C Condon for Grant (40), A.R. Kennedy for Moloney (45), L Morrissey for Dillon (46), S Everard for McCarthy (51), C Walsh for Howard (51).
Meath – O McLaughlin; A Guy, E White, E Troy; A Cleary, V Wall, N Gallogly; M O’Shaughnessy, K Byrne; M Thynne, O Byrne, K Newe; S Grimes, N O’Sullivan, M Farrelly.
Subs – P Dunne for White (24), N Lister for Newe (41), B Keogh for Byrne (51).
Ref – G McMahon (Mayo).