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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 18 December, 2018

Brilliant Limerick survive late Kilkenny fightback to book All-Ireland semi-final place

The Treaty had two points to spare over Kilkenny in a thrilling clash in Thurles.

Limerick 0-27

Kilkenny 1-22

Kevin O’Brien reports from Semple Stadium

WHEN WE LOOK back on it years to come, this may go down as a defining victory for John Kiely’s young Limerick side.

They had two points to spare over Kilkenny in the most absorbing of contests in Thurles to book an All-Ireland semi-final showdown with Cork.

Martin Keoghan with Tom Morrissey Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

In a frantic finish, Limerick were leading by 0-22 to 0-21 in the 65th minute when Richie Hogan slammed in a goal to send the Kilkenny fans into raptures.

With their championship lives flashing in front of their eyes, Limerick outscored the Cats by 0-5 to 0-1 to seal their place in the last four for the first time since 2014.

If Limerick had failed to win this game they’d have pointed to the five goal chances they butchered – three in the first period and two in the second. Much of that was down to Eoin Murphy’s excellence between the posts for the Cats.

Kilkenny fought bravely in front of 18,596 at a rocking Semple Stadium, but fell just short in what was their third game in 14 days.

Limerick players stood up all over the field with Dan Morrissey outstanding on the half-back line and Darragh O’Donovan superb in midfield. Their half-forward line packed a serious punch as Gearoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes and Tom Morrissey scored 10 points between them.

Brian Cody made three late changes to his starting team before the throw-in, with Richie Hogan, Robert Lennon and, surprisingly, Pat Lyng all starting. Lyng was ineffective and found himself hauled off for Liam Blanchfield after 34 minutes, but Hogan was outstanding and posted 1-3.

Richie Leahy arrived off the bench to clip over four points while John Donnelly scored a point and set-up a couple of points. TJ Reid scored seven points but hit just one score from play and was well-handled by the Treaty rearguard.

Graeme Mulcahy with Paul Murphy and Padraig Walsh Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Limerick played their usual system of Gillane and Flanagan inside, with Mulcahy playing as the link man between the half- and full-forward lines. Midfielder O’Donovan looked to sit into centre-back at every opportunity to allow Declan Hannon drop in front of his full-back.

Limerick looked nervy early on and the Cats surged into an 0-7 to 0-3 lead after the opening quarter. Hogan fired over three points in the first-half, with the pick of his scores arriving after a wonderful catch from a Murphy puck-out before he pointed.

The superior aerial ability of the Shannonsiders began to tell and their freshness showed as they took control before the half. Nine different Limerick players were on the scoresheet in the first-half, including braces from Hegarty, Hayes and O’Donovan, while Gillane and Hegarty forced brilliant saves from Murphy.

Seamus Flanagan wasted another goal chance when he overhit a pass to Gillane which Murphy did well to read, but Limerick led by three at half-time.

Kilkenny’s start to the second-half was marred by seven wides in succession, while at the far end Murphy denied Gillane a certain goal with another acrobatic save. Eventually Kilkenny’s dominance began to tell with three scores in as many minutes – one from Reid and a brace from substitute Richie Leahy.

Tom Morrissey celebrates scoring a late point Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

That left them one behind, 0-18 to 0-19, but a score from substitute Peter Casey and a stunning sideline from O’Donovan edged Limerick three clear. Leahy brought his tally to three and then Hogan’s 65th-minute goal put the Cats in the driving seat.

The Treaty hit back with three unanswered scores but Leahy clipped over another to set-up a grandstand finish. With the game on the line, Tom Morrissey and Gillane (free) sealed the win for Kiely’s side.

Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-5 (0-2f), Tom Morrissey 0-4, Kyle Hayes 0-3, Gearoid Hegarty 0-3, Darragh O’Donovan 0-3 (0-1 sideline), Graeme Mulcahy 0-3, Peter Casey 0-2, Diarmuid Byrnes 0-1, Declan Hannon 0-1, Seamus Flanagan 0-1, Shane Dowling 0-1.

Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-7 (0-5f, 0-1 65), Richie Hogan 1-3 Richie Leahy 0-4, James Maher 0-3, Colin Fennelly 0-2, Conor Fogarty 0-1, Liam Blanchfield 0-1, John Donnelly 0-1.


1. Nickie Quaid (Effin)

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

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

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

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

15. Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock)

13. Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell)
14. Séamus Flanagan (Feohanagh)


17. Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh) for Flanagan (59)
19. Shane Dowling (Na Piarsaigh) for Hegarty (59)
23. William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh) for O’Donovan (63)


1. Eoin Murphy (Glenmore)

4. Paddy Deegan (O’Loughlin Gaels)
3. Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan)
2. Paul Murphy (Danesfort)

5. Joey Holden (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
6. Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro)
18. Robert Lennon (Bennettsbridge)

9. James Maher (St Lachtains)
8. Conor Fogarty (Erin’s Own)

10. Martin Keoghan (Tullaroan)
21. Richie Hogan (Danesfort)
26. Pat Lyng (Rower Inistioge)

13. Billy Ryan (Graigue-Ballycallan)
14. Colin Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
11. TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks


22. Liam Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge) for Lyng (34)
12. Richie Leahy (Rower Inistioge) for Donnelly (45)
24. John Donnelly (Thomastown) for Fennelly (62)
15. Ger Aylward (Glenmore) for Ryan (71)

Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath)

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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