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Limerick complete All-Ireland three-in-a-row after epic contest against Kilkenny

Two points was the winning margin in the decider.

Limerick's Declan Hannon and Kilkenny's Billy Ryan.
Limerick's Declan Hannon and Kilkenny's Billy Ryan.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Limerick 1-31

Kilkenny 2-26

THE UNDISPUTED KINGS of modern hurling.

For the third successive year and for the fourth time in five seasons, Limerick are on the summit as the hurling season concludes.

They retained ownership of the Liam MacCarthy Cup after a truly epic contest with Kilkenny this afternoon, Brian Cody’s team producing a performance of wonderful defiance, aided by early second-half goals from Billy Ryan and Martin Keoghan as they pushed Limerick to the wire.

Limerick had surged clear by five in injury-time but Kilkenny kept pounding at the door. A trio of late points supplied by Tommy Walsh, Alan Murphy and David Blanchfield cut the gap to two but Kilkenny were denied the chance to forge an equaliser as time ran out on their challenge.

Ultimately Limerick stood tall when it was needed. They had their own scoring heroes, another phenomenal display by Gearoid Hegarty as he struck 1-5, while Kyle Hayes and Tom Morrissey alongside him in the half-forward line picked off 0-4 apiece, reflective of the huge influence they exerted.

Hegarty set the tone when he unleashed a bullet to the top corner of the net in the 4th minute. That spurred Limerick on and enabled them to enjoy a healthy cushion on the scoreboard throughout the second half. But they weren’t allowed by Kilkenny’s stout rearguard to find the net again and Brian Cody saw his team refuse to let Limerick move convincingly clear in that opening period.

gearoid-hegarty-celebrates-scoring-a-goal Gearoid Hegarty celebrates his first-half goal. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Limerick constructed advantages of five-six point margins with Hegarty, Diarmaid Byrnes, Aaron Gillane and Seamus Flanagan all picking off points. But Kilkenny had their own sources of scores with TJ Reid pointing his frees, while Paddy Deegan and Padraic Walsh notched two points apiece in the first half. Kilkenny trailed 1-14 to 0-11 in the 30th minute after a wonderful point by Hannon, then they outscored Limerick 0-5 to 0-3 before the interval.

That enabled Kilkenny to be within touching distance and they shifted the momentum of the game after half-time. Walter Walsh came on to make a huge impact with Ryan and Keoghan raising those green flags in the 38th and 47th minutes respectively. A John Donnelly point shortly after Keoghan’s goal tied the teams, yet Limerick came again once more, driven on by the magnificence of Hayes and Morrissey.

declan-hannon-and-cian-lynch-lift-the-liam-maccarthy-cup Declan Hannon and Cian Lynch lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Kilkenny again forced parity in the 63rd minute courtesy of a majestic point from Richie Hogan underneath the Hogan Stand, 2-23 to 1-26. The action made for pulsating viewing at this juncture yet Limerick impressively reeled off five points on the trot and that placed them in the driving seat. Kilkenny rallied with a late burst of three scores but there was to be no dislodging John Kiely’s team from the number one position in hurling.

Scorers for Limerick: Gearoid Hegarty 1-5, Aaron Gillane 0-7 (0-4f), Diarmaid Byrnes 0-5 (0-3f, 0-1 ’65), Kyle Hayes 0-4, Tom Morrissey 0-4, Séamus Flanagan 0-2, Declan Hannon 0-1, Dan Morrissey 0-1, Conor Boylan 0-1, Cathal O’Neill 0-1.

Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-9 (0-9f), Martin Keoghan 1-1, Billy Ryan 1-0, Adrian Mullen 0-3, Paddy Deegan 0-2, Padraig Walsh 0-2, Eoin Cody 0-1, Tommy Walsh 0-1, Mikey Carey 0-1, Richie Reid 0-1, David Blanchfield 0-1, Alan Murphy 0-1, Walter Walsh 0-1, John Donnelly 0-1, Richie Hogan 0-1.

Limerick

1. Nickie Quaid (Effin)

2. Sean Finn (Bruff), 3. Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh), 4. Barry Nash (South Liberties),

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

8. William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh), 9. Darragh O’Donovan (Doon) 

10. Gearoid Hegarty (St Patricks), 11. Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), 12. Tom Morrissey (Ahane)

13. Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell), 14. Seamus Flanagan (Feohanagh-Castlemahon), 15. Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock)

Subs

18. Peter  Casey  (Na Piarsaigh) for Mulcahy (48)

26. David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca) for O’Donovan (52)

17. Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh) for Flanagan (60)

24. Cathal O’Neill (Crecora-Manister) for Tom Morrissey (64)

Kilkenny

1. Eoin Murphy (Glenmore)

2. Mikey Butler (O’Loughlin Gaels), 3. Huw Lawlor (O’Loughlin Gaels), 4. Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan)

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5. Michael Carey (Young Irelands), 6. Richie Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks – captain), 7. Paddy Deegan (O’Loughlin Gaels),

8. Cian Kenny (James Stephens), 9. Conor Browne (James Stephens),

13. Adrian Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks), 11. Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan), 15. Eoin Cody (Ballyhale Shamrocks)

10. TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks), 14. Martin Keoghan (Tullaroan), 12. Billy Ryan (Graigue-Ballycallan)

Subs

20. Conor Fogarty (Erins Own) for Browne (temporary) (17)

Browne for Fogarty (24)

23. Walter Walsh (Tullogher-Rosbercon) for Kenny (half-time)

24. John Donnelly (Thomastown) for Walsh (47)

18. David Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge) for Browne (53)

25. Richie Hogan (Danesfort) for Cody (59)

22. Alan Murphy (Glenmore) for Deegan (71)

Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Croke Park

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