Kilkenny advance to Monday’s qualifier draw with a victory over Limerick at Nowlan Park on Saturday evening.
We didn’t see the backlash that people were expecting, but nerve and experience over a promising Limerick side were the key factors in why Kilkenny are in the next round of the qualifiers. It was far from the vintage Kilkenny performances of the past but key players stood up for the cats including a returning Michael Fennelly who was tremendous in the middle of the field.
Kilkenny started well with scores from both TJ Reid (free) and Paddy Deegan put Kilkenny two points in front but the Treaty County were level by the 22nd minute, 0-4 each, thanks to points from Shane Dowling (two frees), Kyle Hayes and captain Gearoid Hegarty. Limerick hit a total of 13 wides in the first half with some of their shot selection slightly erratic and trailed Kilkenny by two points (0-10-0-08).
Limerick started positively at the resumption of play with Shane Dowling and Peter Casey causing the cats problems. A Dowling point with just under 20 mins remaining put the minimum between the sides. Kilkenny crucially then scored the next three scores from substitutes Kevin Kelly, Lester Ryan and a fourth from play for Walter Walsh.
Towards the end you sense that the only way Limerick would achieve victory was to score a goal which in honesty never looked like happening. Kilkenny defensively were terrific with Paul Murphy, Joe Lyng, Pádraig Walsh and Cillian Buckley all managing to frustrate the Limerick men. With a goal between the sides, deep into injury time, Limerick were awarded a free which Dowling lobbed in but Walsh managed to clear his lines and Kilkenny advance to Monday’s draw.
Kilkenny: E Murphy; P Murphy, P Walsh, J Holden; C Fogarty, C Buckley, J Lyng; M Fennelly, P Deegan (0-03); C Bolger (0-01), W Walsh (0-04), TJ Reid (0-08, 0-06 frees); R Hogan, C Fennelly, G Aylward.
Subs: K Kelly (0-02) for Aylward (44 mins), L Blanchfield for Hogan (52 mins), L Ryan (0-02) for Deegan (55 mins), M Bergin for Bolger (64 mins).
Limerick: N Quaid; S Finn, R McCarthy, M Casey; D Morrissey, D Hannon, S Hickey; P Browne, D O’Donovan; D Dempsey, C Lynch, G Hegarty (0-02); P Casey (0-03), S Dowling (0-08, 0-06 frees), K Hayes (0-02).
Subs: B Nash (0-01) for Hegarty (46 mins), J Ryan for O’Donovan (50 mins), T Morrissey for Dempsey (54 mins), P Ryan (0-01) for Browne (59 mins), G Mulcahy for Lynch (68 mins), G O’Mahony for Hannon (74 mins).
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly)