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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 21 September, 2018
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There’s only one question on sports fans’ mind this afternoon: any tickets?

We’re a little over an hour away from throw-in in what promises to be an absolutely unmissable All-Ireland senior hurling final between reigning champions Galway and a Limerick side trying to end 45 years of shattered dreams in the county.

There won’t be a seat to spare in Croke Park this afternoon and if you’re one of the lucky 82,000 with a golden ticket — savour every last moment.

If not, settle in with the TV, radio and ourselves and you won’t miss a single puck of the ball.

Throw-in is at 3.30pm.

In the build-up to this afternoon, most of the pundits and former players seem to be giving Galway the slightest edge as defending champions — but there’s almost universal expectation that there won’t be more than a score or two in this one either way come full time.

Earlier this morning, we asked you to vote here — and with more than 5,000 votes cast, there are only 17 separating the counties at the moment.

It’s that tight.

poll

It’s already been a day to savour for the people of Galway — they’ve just seen the county’s minors successfully defend their All-Ireland title with a 0-21 to 0-14 win against Kilkenny.

Jones’ Road and Drumcondra has been absolutely teeming for the last few hours, as you’d expect:

Fans arrive for the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Fans outside Gills pub Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Fans arrive for the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

A lot of people are in the same boat, unsurprisingly…

A fan searching for tickets Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A fan searching for tickets Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A fan searching for tickets Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A fan searching for tickets Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

We’ve 45 minutes now until throw in, so it’s time for a first reminder of how the teams are expected to line out this afternoon.

First, it’s defending champions Galway who, crucially, have been able to call on Gearoid McInerney at centre back.

Galway

1. James Skehill (Cappataggle)

2. Adrian Tuohy (Beagh)
3. Daithi Burke (Turloughmore)
4. John Hanbury (Rahoon-Newcastle)

5. Padraig Mannion (Ahascragh/Fohenagh)
6. Gearoid McInerney (Oranmore-Maree)
7. Aidan Harte (Gort)

8. Johnny Coen (Loughrea)
9. David Burke (St Thomas’, captain)

10. Joseph Cooney (Sarsfields)
11. Joe Canning (Portumna)
12. Jonathan Glynn (Ardrahan)

13. Conor Whelan (Kinvara)
14. Conor Cooney (St Thomas’)
15. Cathal Mannion (Ahascragh-Fohenagh)

And here’s the Limerick starting XV, unchanged from the side that beat Cork in that epic semi-final a few weeks ago.

Limerick

1. Nickie Quaid (Effin)

2. Sean Finn (Bruff)
3. Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh)
4. Richie English (Doon)

5. Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell)
6. Declan Hannon (Adare, captain)
7. Dan Morrissey (Ahane)

8. Darragh O’Donovan (Doon)
9. Cian Lynch (Patrickswell)

10. Gearóid Hegarty (St Patrick’s)
11. Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry)
12. Tom Morrissey (Ahane)

13. Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell)
14. Séamus Flanagan (Feohanagh)
15. Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock)

We’ve plenty of pre-match reading to keep you ticking over between now and 3.30pm. Here are some of the best bits from our All-Ireland final build-up:

The hope among hurling fans everywhere is that today’s final is a fitting conclusion to what can only be described as a sensationally entertaining summer.

Here, RTÉ — with the help of Anthony Daly — set the scene:

Here come the teams to an almighty roar from the Croke Park crowd.

Both teams start as named on Friday, we’re told.

The first intriguing little subplot of the day: Galway were due to be the first team out onto the pitch but five minutes after their appointed time, they were still in the dressing room, and instead it was Limerick who emerged first — with the champions following them a few moments later.

This is what it’s all about. Will this current Galway team emulate the double-winning greats of 87 and 88, taking the Liam MacCarthy back west for another winter?

Or will it be Limerick’s day after so many near misses and years of heartbreak — a first All-Ireland title since 1973?

The Liam McCarthy trophy Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

President Michael D Higgins — born in Limerick, but a representative of Galway for most of his political career — is meeting the teams. Sure he can’t lose.

As is tradition, the Artane Band play us in with Amhrán na bhFiann. We’re just about ready to go.

THROW IN: We’re underway with Galway attacking the Hill 16 end.

1Mins

1 min – Two Limerick wides to one for Galway inside the opening 50 seconds as Joe Canning sends a shot into the Hill 16 end wide from distance, and then Tom Morrissey follows him at the other end.

2Mins

2 mins – Chance for Aaron Gillane to put Limerick on the board with a free from the halfway line. It has the legs but not the accuracy. Three wides already for Limerick.

3Mins

3 mins — Limerick 0-1 Galway 0-0: Diarmaid Byrnes picks out Gillane with a clever ball inside and the Patrickswell man gets the opening score of this final.

4Mins

4 mins — Limerick 0-2 Galway 0-0: Kyle Hayes tacks on another. Good start for Limerick — they’re swarming Galway.

5Mins

5 mins — Limerick 0-3 Galway 0-0: Lovely piece of skill by Gearóid Hegarty and Graeme Mulcahy finishes with a point. Limerick have had eight scoring chances — three points and five wides — in the opening five minutes which gives you some sense of their ferocious start.

7Mins

7 mins — Limerick 0-3 Galway 0-1: Joe Canning opens Galway’s account with a 65.

7Mins

7 mins — Limerick 0-3 Galway 0-2: David Burke leading by example! The ball into Gearóid Hegarty is slightly off, Burke pounces, shakes off Séamus Flanagan and scores.

8Mins

8 mins — Limerick 0-4 Galway 0-2: Brilliant by Cian Lynch. He gets into a crowd of bodies, skips between Johnny Coen and Joseph Cooney, and points.

9Mins

9 mins — Limerick 0-4 Galway 0-3: Galway are settling into their rhythm now. Padraig Mannion points to cut the gap to one.

12Mins

12 mins — Limerick 0-5 Galway 0-3: A loose ball squirts back into midfield where Darragh O’Donovan scoops and shoots. Straight between the posts.

14Mins

Limerick 0-5 Galway 0-4: Joe Canning points a free to keep Galway within touching distance.

15Mins

Limerick 0-5 Galway 0-5: From out under the shadow of the Hogan Stand, Joe Canning points. All square.

15Mins

Galway 0-6 Limerick 0-5: Galway appear to have cracked Nickie Quaid’s puckout code at the moment. McInerney fields a great ball, lays it off to Joseph Cooney, and Cooney does the rest.

Flag 16Mins

GOAL FOR LIMERICK! Limerick 1-5 Galway 0-6 (Mulcahy, 16′)

A mad scramble and crazy goal but Graeme Mulcahy is rewarded for his persistence. He drops the ball in front of James Skehill’s goal and there’s a blur of boots and hurls as he somehow manages to hack it towards the goal and over the line.

20Mins

Limerick 1-6 Galway 0-6: Tom Morrissey is given acres of space on the Hogan Stand side, and he doesn’t need to be asked twice. Three-point game.

21Mins

Declan Hannon bursts onto a ball in midfield… and fires Limerick’s seventh wide. There has been absolutely no let up in the pace here.

22Mins

Both sides are making mistakes. John Hanbury gives away easy possession; Limerick squander it just as badly; and Seamus Flanagan hits Limerick’s eighth wide.

24Mins

Limerick 1-7 Galway 0-6: Great read from Declan Hannon who skips in in front of Joe Canning, nicks the ball away from him, and bombs the ball over the bar.

25Mins

Great battling by Tom Morrissey and Graeme Mulcahy to strip Gearoid McInerney of possession, but Mulcahy shoots wide again. That’s nine for Limerick in 25 minutes, if you’re keeping count.

28Mins

Limerick 1-8 Galway 0-7: Declan Hannon is doing a fine job in marking Joe Canning, and in contributing at the other end. He’s first to the ball again, carries it a few strides, and fires it back over the Galway bar. David Burke responds quickly for Galway.

28Mins

Lovely skill from Johnny Coen who gets his stick in and flicks the ball away from Cian Lynch. Beautiful.

32Mins

Joe Canning from distance… wide. Limerick still lead by four.

33Mins

Ouch. Kyle Hayes gets up high above Joe Canning with both eyes firmly on the ball, but crunches through the back of Canning. It’ll be a Galway free once Canning has been seen to.

34Mins

Canning has a go from inside his own half… short, and Nickie Quaid clears.

35Mins

Limerick 1-8 Galway 0-8: Limerick are furious as they smother out a Joseph Cooney attack. It’s called back for a free against Cian Lynch, and Joe Canning takes full advantage.

35Mins

Limerick 1-8 Galway 0-9: Limerick switch off at a free. It’s taken quickly to Joseph Cooney and he gets his shot off before Gearóid Hegarty can block him. Just two points in it now as Galway finish the half strongly.

35Mins

Limerick 1-9 Galway 0-9: Soft free against Gearoid McInerney? It looked like he hit Seamus Flanagan square on shoulder-to-shoulder but Limerick get the free, and Gillane points it.

35Mins

Limerick 1-10 Galway 0-9: Seamus Flanagan sends Limerick in four points to the good at the break.

35Mins

35Mins

Not the best half of hurling we’ve seen this year by any stretch of the imagination, with a lot of mistakes from both sides. Limerick will be very pleased with how they’ve put their stamp on the game though – can they sustain that pace for another 35 minutes?

36Mins

SECOND HALF: We’re back underway. Can Limerick drive on for a first All-Ireland in 45 years, or will Galway be able to mount a comeback?

36Mins

Joe Canning hits the first wide of the half. He was a long way out, in his defence.

38Mins

Cian Lynch doesn’t have a huge amount of space to get his shot away, and it drops short into James Skehill’s grateful paw.

39Mins

Limerick 1-11 Galway 0-10: After a succession of errors in the Galway half, Kyle Hayes steps in, snatches the ball and points. Joseph Cooney responds quickly for Galway.

40Mins

Limerick 1-12 Galway 0-10: Magnificent score from Diarmaid Byrnes from distance.

40Mins

Limerick 1-13 Galway 0-10: Now we’ll see what the champions are made of — they trail by six as Kyle Hayes gets the green light from Hawk-Eye.

41Mins

Limerick 1-14 Galway 0-10: Kyle Hayes is on fire! Great work from Seamus Flanagan and Hayes puts Limerick seven up.

44Mins

Limerick 1-15 Galway 0-10: Padraig Mannion puts Graeme Mulcahy into the stand, and that’s silly indiscipline from the Galway man. It gives Limerick the chance to move even further in front from a free – and Gillane takes it.

45Mins

Padraig Mannion takes over from Joe Canning for a long-range free, but sends it wide. Galway need to find an answer — and fast.

48Mins

Blood sub for Galway: Conor Cooney has a cut under his right eye so Jason Flynn comes on in his place for now.

49Mins

Limerick sub: Mike Casey has been struggling for the last few minutes. He goes down again in need of more attention and that’s the end of his afternoon — Richie McCarthy comes on in his place.

51Mins

Limerick 1-15 Galway 0-11: Much better from Galway. Short pass from Padraig Mannion to put Joe Canning free in space and Canning makes no mistake. Seven-point game.

52Mins

Conor Cooney is ready to come back in, and Flynn returns to his seat on the bench.

53Mins

Limerick 1-15 Galway 0-12: Canning again! Galway are back within six and Limerick’s mettle will be tested now.

Flag 54Mins

GOAL FOR LIMERICK! Limerick 2-15 Galway 0-12 (Morrissey, 54′)

MASSIVE MOMENT – and Limerick have one hand on the Liam MacCarthy Cup! Tom Morrissey pounces on a mistake from Gearoid McInerney, shows some magnificent skill to control it away from the rallying Galway troops, and finishes smartly to the net. What a brilliant goal.

55Mins

Limerick 2-15 Galway 0-13: Canning cuts the gap to eight, for now.

58Mins

SAVE BY JAMES SKEHILL! Put his body on the line to deny Séamus Flanagan a certain goal. Incredible bravery.

60Mins

The game is still stopped to allow Skehill some treatment. That ball was going at some speed when it hit him.

61Mins

Galway sub: Fearghal Flannery comes on to replace Skehill, who can’t continue.

62Mins

Limerick 2-15 Galway 0-14: David Burke makes it a seven-point game.

63Mins

Joe Canning has a chance to cut the gap to six but, instead, hits his long-range free wide — Galway’s 15th wide of the day.

65Mins

Limerick 2-15 Galway 0-15: Canning again, and now Limerick’s lead is down to six. There’ll be plenty of additional time as well following the injuries to Casey and Skehill, as well as the subs.

66Mins

Limerick 2-15 Galway 0-16: Canning again, booms over a free! Five in it.

Flag 68Mins

GOAL FOR LIMERICK! Limerick 3-15 Galway 0-16 (Dowling, 67′) 

DOWLING’S DONE IT! THAT SHOULD BE IT! LIMERICK ARE ON THE CUSP OF VICTORY!

70Mins

We’re playing eight additional minutes here… a lot of nails left to be chewed.

Flag 70Mins

GOAL FOR GALWAY! Limerick 3-15 Galway 1-16 (Whelan, 70+1′)

Galway have a lifeline — and there’s an eternity of time left here! At least seven more minutes to play here. Limerick lead by five.

70Mins

They couldn’t, could they?

70Mins

Galway free…

Flag

GOAL FOR GALWAY! Limerick 3-15 Galway 2-16 (Canning, 70+5′)

DON’T GO ANYWHERE! Canning rifles that free into the net. It’s not over, not by a long way.

70Mins

Two-point game! Three minutes to play. Oh my days.

70Mins

NIALL BURKE! GALWAY ARE BACK WITHIN A POINT! TWO MINUTES TO PLAY!

70Mins

Limerick wide. 90 seconds left and Galway need a score

70Mins

Limerick 3-16 Galway 2-17: Mulcahy scores! Limerick lead by two – can they hang on? A minute to play!

70Mins

Limerick 3-16 Galway 2-18: Canning points a 65. Will Galway have time for one last chance?

70Mins

Galway free from absolutely miles back… is it within Canning’s range?

Flag

ALL OVER – LIMERICK ARE THE ALL-IRELAND HURLING CHAMPIONS!

It drops short and that’s it! Limerick win! Limerick win!

FULL TIME: Limerick 3-16 Galway 2-18

70Mins

What incredible drama!

After 45 years, what’s another eight minutes?! Limerick are the All-Ireland champions for the first time since 1973.

What a sensational finish to a sensational summer of hurling.

Amazing scenes on the pitch in Croke Park — pure joy — as Declan Hannon climbs the steps of the Hogan Stand to lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup!

That’s it from our minute-by-minute coverage as Declan Hannon finishes his speech and the sound of the Cranberries rings out around Croke Park.

Stick with us across the evening for lots more reaction and analysis of what will go down as one of the most sensational finishes to any All-Ireland hurling final in recent memory.

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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