Thursday 22 August 2019

Cats come of age as Doyle strike sets them on path to final

Kilkenny 2-24 Limerick 0-18

Kilkenny’s Timmy Clifford fends off the challenge of Ethan Hurley. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Kilkenny’s Timmy Clifford fends off the challenge of Ethan Hurley. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

A group of determined youngsters have driven Kilkenny to within 60 minutes of victory in the All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship.

The Cats, beaten in last year's final by Galway, will contest the decider on Sunday fortnight, in what will be their ninth game in the competition.

Patrick Reale of Limerick in action against Pierce Blanchfield of Kilkenny. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Patrick Reale of Limerick in action against Pierce Blanchfield of Kilkenny. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

It has been an incredible journey for Kilkenny, who beat Munster champions Limerick in Saturday's semi-final in Croke Park, as this group struggled at U-14 and U-15 level.

"We are absolutely thrilled to be in the final," said Kilkenny manager Richie Mulrooney. "This is just reward for hard work by 33 fellows who have given everything. They are like a club team they are so united.

"Playing so well against Galway in the second-half of the last match, although beaten, boosted their confidence no end. That confidence came out in training subsequently and in the brilliance of their hurling against Limerick. They were terrific, the best of the season to date.

"To us they are already winners, but hopefully the good times are not finished yet in this championship."

Kilkenny players Padraic Moylan, left, and Pierce Blanchfield celebrate after the match. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Kilkenny players Padraic Moylan, left, and Pierce Blanchfield celebrate after the match. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Limerick were put on the back foot from the off when Jack Doyle grabbed a goal for the Cats in the opening minute. Thanks to some brilliant hurling from the deadly Cathal O'Neill the Treaty men got back level at 1-3 to 0-6 after 11 minutes.

While the scores were level three times afterwards, Kilkenny led at the break by 1-12 to 0-13.

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Centre-forward Timmy Clifford had been Kilkenny's star man during that half, and he continued to roast the opposition afterwards, helping himself to six scores from play.

When Kilkenny scored a second goal by Billy Drennan in the 42nd minute, with an assist from Colman O'Sullivan (2-17 to 0-15), they tightened their grip on the game and never relaxed it.

Aidan O'Connor pointed for Limerick after that goal, but Ian Byrne, Clifford and Peter McDonald all replied for Kilkenny as they let rip down the finishing straight.

The scoring returns after the second Kilkenny goal were 0-7 to 0-3, which underlined the winners' superiority.

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