Limerick advanced to the All-Ireland hurling semi-final with a narrow 0-27 to 1-22 win over Kilkenny at Thurles on Sunday. The win was their first win over Kilkenny in 45 years, indeed 1973 was the year and Kilkenny manager Brian Cody was playing that day !
Limerick trailed Kilkenny by 0-06 to 0-03 after 16 minutes, but they put their foot on the gas scoring 12 of the next 17 points to lead by 0-15 to 0-12 at half time. Limerick had 9 different scorers from play in the opening period, but Richie Hogan, Colin Fennelly and the superb Eoin Murphy in the Kilkenny goal failed to give in to the Shannonsiders. Kilkenny led by 0-04 to 0-02 after 12 minutes, with TJ Reid coming to the fore from placed balls. Richie Hogan and James Maher also pointing for the Noresiders, while Aaron Gillane and Seamus Flanagan got the first two scores for Limerick. Hogan then went on to hit two spectacular points either side of Hayes point for Limerick. Limerick then hit two scores from Gillane and Byrnes, before Maher and Gillane swapped points to leave it 0-08 to 0-06 after 20 minutes.
Declan Hannon had a good game at centre back and he and Gillane pointed to tie up the sides. Reid tapped over a free but Hayes scored a sublime point after a nice catch to leave the sides on 0-9 each. Gearoid Hegarty put Limerick ahead on 27 minutes, before Maher responded. Eoin Murphy then showed us why he should get an All-star with some superb goalkeeping- he denied Hegarty from close range only for the ball to go over the bar. Graeme Mulcahy and Morrissey pushed Limerick ahead even further and midfielder Darragh O’Donovan extended the lead to four on 33 minutes, 0-14 to 0-10. O’Donovan went on to get his second minutes later, before the first half scoring was closed with Conor Fogarty and Colin Fennelly raising white flags, Limerick lead by 0-15 to 0-12 at the break.
TJ Reid began the scoring in the second half with a free for the Black and Amber men. However, with the rain bucketing down, Hegarty and Hayes came to the fore with points for Limerick. Limerick were now four ahead after 44 minutes of play. Liam Blanchfield pointed to cancel out a point from Gillane. Once again Eoin Murphy proving why is the best in the business saving to deny a certain goal. Morrissey and Reid traded scores then, and with twenty minutes to go Limerick still had the four point cushion. Richie Leahy tapped over a quickfire double, while Reid added to his tally once again. However, Limerick were not prepared to give in and wilt under pressure and Graeme Mulcahy fired over. With 13 minutes to go Reid cut the gap further with a free, the gap was one, but it was quickly back out to three with Peter Casey and Darragh O’Donovan pointing. Richie Leahy and John Donnelly fired over for for Kilkenny, then came what would of thought a turning point, Richie Hogan coming up trumps with a superb goal to give the Cats the lead 1-21 to 0-22. Morrissey hit two points, either side of well taken point from the impressive Hogan. Casey and Dowling then fired over to give Limerick a lead coming into the final 4 minutes.
Richie Leahy was massively impressive for Brian Cody’s charges and he scored another to level matters on 67 minutes. Morrissey though was equally as impressive for the Shannonsiders and he scored a fantastic point from on the run. Aaron Gillane closed the scoring on a massive day for Limerick hurling.
Limerick – N Quaid; S Finn, M Casey, R English; D Byrnes (0-1), D Hannon (0-1), D Morrissey; D O’Donovan (0-3, 1sl), C Lynch; G Hegarty (0-3), K Hayes (0-3), T Morrissey (0-4); A Gillane (0-5, 2f), S Flanagan (0-1), G Mulcahy (0-3). Subs: P Casey (0-2) for S Flanagan, S Dowling (0-1) for G Hegarty, W O’Donoghue for D O’Donovan.
Kilkenny – E Murphy; P Murphy, P Walsh, P Deegan; J Holden, C Buckley, R Lennon; C Fogarty (0-1), J Maher (0-3); M Keoghan, R Hogan (1-3), P Lyng; B Ryan, C Fennelly (0-2), TJ Reid (0-7, 5f, 1’65). Subs: L Blanchfield (0-1) for P Lyng, R Leahy (0-4) for M Keoghan, J Donnelly (0-1) for C Fennelly, G Aylward for B Ryan.