Thursday 27 July 2017

Classy Limerick end Galway's grand slam hopes

Limerick 1-20 Galway 0-17

Limerick's Gearóid Hegarty celebrates after the game
Limerick's Gearóid Hegarty celebrates after the game
Limerick manager John Kiely
Limerick captain Diarmuid Byrnes leads his team out before the game
Limerick's Peter Casey in action against Galway's Cathal Mannion

Dermot Crowe at Semple Stadium

Galway designs on a hurling grand slam ended at Thurles yesterday with the under 21s exiting the championship having no grounds for complaint, beaten by a team who simply got more out of themselves and had several inspiring individual performances.

Limerick will contest their first All-Ireland final at the grade since 2002, when they completed a third title win in a row.

The hurling, and spirit, produced yesterday augurs well for the future. It required hurling - they had that. It required character - they had that too.

Tom Morrissey scored 1-3 from play and it was his goal in the 59th minute that effectively ended Galway's challenge. Morrissey worked an interchange with David Dempsey which appeared to have broken down. But, on his knees, the Ahane player managed to finish low to the net. The score stretched Limerick's lead to six points.

Dempsey had an outstanding second half, scoring four points, while Colin Ryan had three; Cian Lynch, their star forward, hurled a quiet match by his standards. The half-back line excelled, with Barry O'Connell holding Cathal Mannion scoreless. Beside O'Connell, Diarmaid Byrnes and Gearoid Hegarty were colossal and accounted for three of their team's scores.

Galway, with eight of the starting team having won All-Ireland intermediate medals two weeks earlier, were unable to produce a display worthy of their reputation. The lack of match preparation will raise more noise about their absence from Leinster, along with the minors, a campaign that is gaining momentum within the county. Having come through a fiercely contested Munster Championship, Limerick were more fine tuned and battle-hardened.

They looked in trouble when Galway had a six-point run on them in the second quarter, Limerick failing to score after the 17th minute of the first half. Their 0-10 to 0-4 lead was swept away in a stream of Galway scores. When they finally broke their duck with a Ronan Lynch free two minutes into the second half, Galway had added a seventh point without a Limerick response. From there the Treaty men outscored Galway 1-9 to 0-6 to claim a place against Wexford in the final in Thurles on September 12.

Apart from a subdued Mannion, Galway could only extract one point from the senior player, Conor Whelan, while Jason Flynn had seven, with two from play. Their star forward was intermediate player Brian Molloy who scored five points from play from six shots in an exceptional display of marksmanship. Shane Cooney was prominent at centre back and they had some good contributions from Paul Killeen and Eanna Burke, but they found it impossible to contain Limerick when they found their rhythm after the interval.

Galway's best spell saw them claim the last six scores of the first half to leave the teams level, 0-10 apiece, at the break. The last one was a beautiful point from Flynn but it had a note of controversy: Limerick full back Richie English, with justification, felt aggrieved when not awarded a free after being slapped on the hand when clearing.

Galway came closest to scoring a goal in the first half when Flynn's low shot was saved and the rebound fell to Whelan who fluffed his effort. Limerick played with two inside forwards and sent Lynch on a roving commission, pursued by Declan Cronin. He scored one outstanding point but Limerick's win wasn't founded on the marquee names. Galway now must refocus on the All-Ireland minor and senior finals in two weeks. It will be of some consolation that their senior players appeared to come through unscathed.

Scorers - Limerick: T Morrissey 1-3; D Dempsey 0-4; R Lynch 0-3 (0-2 fs; 0-1 lineball); C Ryan 0-3; D Byrnes, D O'Donovan 0-2; G Hegarty, B Nash, C Lynch 0-1. Galway: J Flynn 0-7 (0-2 fs; 0-2 '65s'; 0-1 lineball); B Molloy 0-5; D Nevin 0-2; S Cooney, E Brannigan, C Whelan 0-1.

Limerick: D McCarthy; S Finn, R English, M Casey; D Byrnes, B O'Connell, G Hegarty; D O'Donovan, B Nash, T Morrissey, D Dempsey; C Lynch, C Ryan, R Lynch. Subs: P Casey for Nash (50 mins); A La Touche-Cosgrave for P Ryan (50); M O'Callaghan for Casey (58); J Kelliher for Morrissey (61).

Galway: G Loughnane; D Cronin, P Killeen, B Keane; S Sweeney, S Cooney, E Burke; K McHugo, D Nevin; E Brannigan, C Mannion, C Whelan; B Molloy, R O'Meara, J Flynn. Subs: M Mullins for O'Meara (20); J Kennedy for Brannigan (40); J Ryan for McHugo (51); B Burke for Kennedy (55).

Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary)

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