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No sin-bin when you're winning as Kiely pleads to 'leave hurling alone'

Limerick 1-19 Galway 0-14

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Sleight of hand: Sean Linnane of Galway gets rid of the sliotar with Limerick’s Darragh O’Donovan in pursuit. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Sleight of hand: Sean Linnane of Galway gets rid of the sliotar with Limerick’s Darragh O’Donovan in pursuit. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

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Sleight of hand: Sean Linnane of Galway gets rid of the sliotar with Limerick’s Darragh O’Donovan in pursuit. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

John Kiely spoke for many when pleading with GAA authorities to "leave hurling alone" after watching his Limerick side flex their muscles in swatting aside Galway at a wind-swept LIT Gaelic Grounds.

The prospect of the black card being introduced for the small ball has been put to Central Council for endorsement, with the possibility of a sin-bin being in place for this year's Championship not sitting right with a lot of hurling folk, one of whom is Kiely.

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Darragh ODonovan of Limerick in action against Adrian Tuohy of Galway. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Darragh ODonovan of Limerick in action against Adrian Tuohy of Galway. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

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Throwing his eyes to heaven when asked if such radical changes were needed in hurling, he said: "Ah, no way. The game is fine. The game is absolutely 100 per cent fine. Nobody is giving out about the game, really, apart from one or two and they're going to be giving out anyway. The game is fine. Leave it alone, please."

The Limerick boss had much to be happy about after watching another illustration of the Treaty's rude health in making it two wins from two having easily kept Galway at arm's length in the closing half.

The strength in depth at Kiely's disposal was once again in full view with Aaron Costello, David Reidy and David Dempsey seizing their opportunities to give him some welcome selection headaches.

Shane O'Neill may have head pain of a different kind, however, as the return to his native county ended in an overwhelming defeat as he continues to find his feet with Galway and explore the talent at his disposal.

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Darren OConnell of Limerick in action against Aidan Harte, left, and TJ Brennan of Galway. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Darren OConnell of Limerick in action against Aidan Harte, left, and TJ Brennan of Galway. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

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The Tribesmen looked rudderless in many sectors of the pitch with big names like the Mannion brothers - Pádraic and Cathal - failing to influence affairs, while O'Neill also lost Joe Canning to a second-half hand injury.

The 2017 Hurler of the Year looked in some discomfort when leaving the fray after receiving a stray pull in the 47th minute but the Galway manager played down its severity.

Bang

"He's fine. He got a bang in the nerve. He just couldn't feel it there. He's fine now. He put ice on the nerve there and he'll be fine," a relieved O'Neill said of his star forward, one of the few to raise a gallop against a dominant Limerick.

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William ODonoghue of Limerick in action against Adrian Tuohy of Galway. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

William ODonoghue of Limerick in action against Adrian Tuohy of Galway. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

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Galway simply had no response to a physically-imposing home side who bamboozled them with a combination of precision and movement in a repeat of the 2018 All-Ireland final where the Treaty also prevailed.

Played before a whopping crowd of 14,151, the hosts settled quickest with their crisp, short passing causing problems for Galway and captain Declan Hannon and Graeme Mulcahy were on target early on.

The defending League champions were 0-4 to 0-2 to the good but rued a series of missed chances as the visitors eventually found their feet with Canning keeping the scoreboard ticking over from placed balls.

By the 23rd minute, Galway led 0-8 to 0-6 with the aid of a decent breeze at their backs but Limerick took over until the break hitting six of the next seven points with all six forwards on target from play and Tom Morrissey particularly influential as he brought Shane Cooney on a tour of the park.

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Dan Morrissey of Limerick in action against Joe Canning of Galway. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Dan Morrissey of Limerick in action against Joe Canning of Galway. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

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Their three-point half-time lead, 0-12 to 0-9, was quickly doubled upon the resumption with Dempsey climbing above Sean Loftus to collect a lovely Seamus Flanagan pass and finish low to the Galway net.

It looked like it could turn into a rout, but credit to Galway they hung in there and had the deficit back to three points before Canning was forced off. In his absence, they found even less traction up front against a well-drilled Limerick defence.

It looked like Limerick could push the button and close the game out at any time without moving from third gear. And points from substitutes Aaron Gillane and Darren O'Connell put the gloss on a commanding display as Galway failed to score again after the hour mark.

Having failed to show up in the first half against Tipp, Kiely got the performance he craved while the sight of green flags is something he intends to see plenty more of.

"We needed to get a full 70-minute performance in this week, we were very disappointed with last week and we're getting the few goals now which is great as well," he said.

"I really enjoyed getting a couple of goals last week and today getting a goal as well, we've got to keep that coming and we've got to get a couple of goals each week. That's something that we're really working on."

Kiely lost All-Star defenders Richie English and Hannon to injury but expects to have them available again very soon; "they're not serious at all, just precautionary really more than anything. If in doubt get them out, there's bigger days ahead," he said.

O'Neill - who lives "just around the corner" from the Ennis Road venue and led his native Na Piarsaigh to All-Ireland club glory four years ago - wasn't too downbeat with the display given that fresh faces like TJ Brennan and Diarmuid Kilcommins got some big-game exposure.

"We got a performance for about 75, 80 per cent of the game. Not for a lack of trying I suppose with that 20 per cent but just lacking a small bit more than maybe what Limerick have at the moment," O'Neill said.

SCORERS - Limerick: D Reidy 0-7 (5f); D Dempsey 1-1; G Hegarty, A Gillane (f), T Morrissey 0-2 each; D Hannon, S Flanagan, G Mulcahy, W O'Donoghue, D O'Connell 0-1 each. Galway: J Canning 0-7 (5f); C Whelan 0-2; A Harte, C Mannion, S Cooney, C Cooney (f), S Bleahene 0-1 each.

LIMERICK - N Quaid 7; A Costello 7, S Finn 7, R English 6; D Morrissey 7, D Hannon 6, B Nash 7; D O'Donovan 7, W O'Donoghue 7; G Hegarty 7, T Morrissey 9, D Reidy 8; G Mulcahy 8, S Flanagan 7, D Dempsey 7. Subs: C Lynch for O'Donovan (blood sub 4), O'Donovan for Lynch (6), T Condon 6 for English (inj, h-t), D Byrnes 6 for Hannon inj (40), A Gillane 7 for Flanagan (55), D O'Connell 7 for Dempsey (60), B Ryan for Reidy (65).

GALWAY - E Murphy 6; S Loftus 6, G McInerney 7, TJ Brennan 7; P Mannion 6, S Cooney 6, A Harte 6; A Tuohey 5, S Linnane 5; D Kilcommins 6, C Mannion 6, J Canning 7; J Flynn 5, C Whelan 7, B Concannon 5.

Subs: C Cooney 6 for Concannon (ht), S Bleahene 7 for Canning inj (47), Darragh Burke 6 for Kilcommins (52), P Killeen 6 for Loftus (55), J Grealish for Linnane (65).

REF - C Lyons (Cork).

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