– Jackie Cahill reports from Semple Stadium
LIMERICK ARE BORD Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 hurling champions for 2015.
The Shannonsiders produced a scintillating display at Semple Stadium tonight to see off Wexford by a massive 16-point margin.
John Kiely’s charges were rampant as the manager, a senior panellist in 1996 when the counties met in the All-Ireland final, gained sweet revenge almost 20 years later.
Limerick’s big names were on fire, including senior stars Cian Lynch and Tom Morrissey, but Barry Nash, a Leaving Cert student this summer, claimed the man of the match award after scoring five points from play.
A disappointing Wexford, runners-up for a second successive year, provided token resistance throughout.
Conor McDonald scored 1-4, including a second half goal from a deceptive, dipping strike, but he had precious little support as the Leinster champions crumbled.
Limerick were brilliant from start to finish, building on a seven-point half-time lead to claim the Cross of Cashel Cup, handed over for the final time tonight.
In front of 18,444 spectators, Limerick led by 0-11 to 0-4 at the end of a first half dominated by talk of goals that weren’t.
Referee Johnny Ryan disallowed two, one for either side, after whistling back for frees when both teams could argue that advantage should have been played on each occasion.
Limerick were aggrieved first in the eleventh minute when Ronan Lynch netted after Oliver O’Leary batted away David Dempsey’s effort, but Ryan called play back for a 20m free.
Three minutes before half-time, Wexford’s Kevin Foley had the ball in the Limerick net but Ryan, again, disallowed the score.
Wexford badly needed a fillip at that stage as they were struggling badly.
The Slaneysiders endured a 17-minute barren spell on the scoreboard and by half-time, just one of their four points was registered from play.
Limerick, in contrast, were rampant as Nash helped himself to four points from play.
Senior panellist Tom Morrissey and Pat Ryan chipped in with a brace of points each and Cian Lynch, in a roving commission, was also on target.
Limerick opted for a two man inside line from the start, with Lynch given the licence to operate around the middle third.
And Limerick’s system worked a treat as they devoured Wexford to claim a first U21 crown since 2002.
Forward stars Ronan Lynch, Cian Lynch, Morrissey and Nash were excellent but midfielder Pat Ryan chipped in with three points also.
Diarmuid Byrnes played a captain’s part with two points from a rock solid half back line, in which Gearóid Hegarty was also excellent.
After the McDonald goal, Limerick finished with a flourish by registering the final nine points of the game.
They could even afford the luxury of tapping a late penalty over the bar, with Peter Casey opting for a point with the end result in no doubt.
Scorers for Wexford: Conor McDonald 1-4 (0-3f, 0-1 sl), Pádraig Foley, Andrew Kenny & Cathal Dunbar 0-1 each.
Scorers for Limerick: Ronan Lynch 0-6 (5f), Barry Nash 0-5, Tom Morrissey 0-4, Pat Ryan, Cian Lynch & Peter Casey (0-1 pen) 0-3 each, Diarmuid Byrnes 0-2 (1f).
1. Oliver O’Leary (Buffers Alley)
2. Simon Donohoe (Shelmaliers)
3. Liam Ryan (Rapparees)
4. Eoin Conroy (Naomh Eanna – Captain)
5. Jim White (Oylegate Glenbrien)
6. Padraig Foley (Crossabeg Ballymurn)
7. Jack O’Connor (St. Martin’s)
8. Conor Devitt (Ballyfad)
9. Tony French (Adamstown)
10. Andrew Kenny (Buffers Alley)
11. Kevin Foley (Rapparees)
12. James Cash (Shelmaliers)
13. Cathal Dunbar (Ballygarret)
14. Conor McDonald (Naomh Eanna)
15. Peter Sutton (Oulart The Ballagh)
21. Shane Murphy (St James’ Ramsgrange) for French (35)
23. Seán Kenny (HWH Bunclody) for Devitt (41)
20. Sam Kelly (Crossabeg-Ballymurn) for K Foley (46)
22. Jake Firman (St Martin’s) for Cash (54).
1. David McCarthy (Glenroe)
2. Sean Finn (Bruff)
3. Richie English (Doon)
4. Michael Casey (Na Piarsaigh)
5. Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell – Captain)
6. Barry O Connell (Kildimo/Pallaskenry)
7. Gearoid Hegarty (St Patrick’s)
8. Darragh O’Donovan (Doon)
9. Pat Ryan (Doon)
10. Ronan Lynch (Na Piarsaigh)
11. Cian Lynch (Patrickswell)
12. David Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh)
13. Colin Ryan (Pallasgreen)
14. Tom Morrissey (Ahane)
15. Barry Nash (South Liberties)
24. Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh) for C Ryan (50)
18. Andrew La-Touche Cosgrave (Monaleen) for P Ryan (52)
19. Jack Kelliher (Patrickswell) for R Lynch (55)
17. Mark O’Callaghan (Knockaderry) for Finn (58)
21. Jody Hannon (Adare) for O’Donovan (59).
Referee: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary)