LIMERICK SHC FINAL REPLAY AHANE 0-14 KILMALLOCK 2-5 TEMPERS flared at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday as reigning champions Ahane retained their Limerick senior hurling crown with an easy, but ill-tempered, win over Kilmallock.
The main talking point after the game was not the merits of Ahane's victory, but rather the over-physical approach adopted by both teams in this replay which was played before a crowd of 7,000.
Referee Jason O'Mahony flashed eight yellow cards before sending two players off in the final six minutes.
Kilmallock had Mike O'Riordan sent off for a late challenge on Clement Smith in 54 minutes and then a few seconds from the end, Smith was shown the red card.
In between, an Ahane official was felled to the ground as he went on to the pitch to tend an injured player.
Ahane, the defending champions were way ahead of their opponents in hurling skills. However, despite playing with a stiffish breeze, they led by just a single point, 0-7 to 1-3, at half-time.
However, the expected Kilmallock revival never materialised and they knew their fate ten minutes into the second half when they trailed by five points. There was no way back after that and their second goal from substitute John Cronin with the last puck of the ball merely put a hint of respectability on the scoreboard.
County player Ollie Moran, playing at centre-back for Ahane, was head and shoulders above everybody else and deservedly picked up the man of the match award.
It was Moran who got his side off on the right track with a marvellous point after just 15 seconds. And when Ahane were under pressure at the start of the second half, he raced upfield to create an opening for Padraig Smith to score a much-needed point.
With their county players Dave Clarke and Mike Houlihan inconspicious for most of the journey, Kilmallock had nobody to guide them and looked a forlorn bunch.
Yet, they seemed ready to make a contest of it after just ten minutes when Brendan Hanley fired the ball past goalkeeper Finbar McCarthy to cancel out earlier points from Moran and Turlough Herbert (2).
Their cause was not helped in that they added just three more points in that first half. While Ahane managed just one more than them, they at least looked to have more quality in their side.
The second half turned out to be a huge dissappointment and when Turlough Herbert, Brian Meskell and Padraig Smith left six between them, spectators began to leave the ground.
Unlike the drawn match two weeks earlier, there was no late rally from Kilmallock.
John Meskell and Sean O'Connor tightened their grip on midfield as the East Limerick men cruised to victory.
SCORERS - Ahane: T Herbert 0-6, O Moran 0-3, C Smith, B Meskell, J Moran, J Morrissey and P Smith 0-1 each. Kilmallock: B Hanley and J Cronin 1-0 each, D Clarke, M Houlihan 0-2 each, M Nelligan 0-1.
AHANE F McCarthy; A Collins, K Herbert, M Fitzgerald; C Smith, O Moran, A Smith; J Meskell, S O'Connor; B Meskell, J Moran, T Herbert; J Morrissey, T Meskell, P Smith. Subs: J O'Grady for T Meskell
KILMALLOCK T Hennessy; D Barry, M Cronin, S O'Grady; A Maguire, D Clarke, J Connery; M Houlihan, M Riordan; J Fitzgerald, M Nelligan, P Barrett; P Tobin, B Hanley, P Connery. Subs: M Lyons for Fitzgerald, J Cronin for Barrett.
REF J O'Mahony (Kildimo).