Powerful finish sets up slick Limerick for minor revenge mission
Limerick 2-23 Galway 2-19
Three years ago Kilkenny upset a fancied Limerick minor team in the All-Ireland hurling final, but now the revenge mission is on track for the Shannonsiders after they powered past Galway at Semple Stadium.
In three weeks' time the sides will meet in an U-21 final for the first time and with 13 of that minor side on duty against Galway on Saturday it will be easy to lift the Treaty men.
But it would be no surprise to see Pat Donnelly's side claim a sixth All-Ireland title.
Throughout the championship his side have shone, with Tipperary, Clare, Cork and now Galway accounted for. They were pushed all the way by a Galway side in their first outing of the season, but Donnelly had little sympathy for the well-prepared Tribesmen.
"Personally, I wouldn't have any sympathy. But for the players themselves it's not good for them. I'd rather have the three games than not have them and I think that was proven in the last ten minutes. Our lads were used to playing championship games and I think they were stronger in the finish," said Donnelly.
Without any game time Galway would have been thrilled with the intensity of the early play, although a handful of wides meant they only led 0-3 to 0-2 after ten minutes. At the other end Limerick were efficient and Peter Casey fired their opening 1-2, which was crucial to their ultimate victory.
"I'm very proud of our lads. People, all year, have been saying, 'you haven't the best lads in'. We had the lads that wanted to be there and they were a serious bunch to work with," said Galway manager Tony Ward.
"They gave it everything. There won't be a sound out of that dressing-room for the next hour because those lads are gutted."
Despite their early slip-ups, Galway continued to battle doggedly and their half-forward line of Brian Concannon, Sean Linnane and Tom Monaghan hit nine points from play between them, which was the main reason they pulled level at half-time, 0-12 to 1-9.
Five minutes after the restart Barry Murphy hit Limerick's second goal, which helped them into a five-point lead by the 37th minute.
Goals from Jack Coyne and Conor Whelan turned the game on its head as Galway led by two, but Limerick's powerful bench made an impact and they hit the last four points.
"We have Kilkenny and for these lads there's unfinished business and I think that's driving them on," said Donnelly.
Scorers - Limerick: A Gillane 0-8 (4f, 2 '65); P Casey, B Murphy 1-2; B Nash 0-4; T Grimes 0-2; R Hanley, C Lynch, A La Touche Cosgrave, K Hayes, C Boylan 0-1. Galway: C Whelan 1-3 (2fs); J Coyne 1-1; T Monaghan, B Concannon 0-4; D Nevin 0-2 (1f); K McHugo, S Linnane, S Loftus (f), J Grealish, E Niland (f) 0-1.
Limerick - E McNamara 6; S Finn 7, D Fanning 8, D Joy 7; R Lynch 6, K Hayes 6, T Grimes 8; C Ryan 7, R Hanley 7; A Gillane 7, B Murphy 8, C Lynch 6; P Casey 8, T Morrissey 5, B Nash 8. Subs: A La Touche Cosgrave 8 for C Lynch (30-31, blood) & for Morrissey (44), C Boylan 7 for Ryan (44), J O'Grady 7 for Finn (52), S Flanagan 6 for Murphy (59), M Mackey 6 for Nash (65).
Galway - D Gilligan 6; D Cronin 5, C Cosgrove 7, I Fox 5; J Grealish 7, J Mooney 6, S Loftus 7; K McHugo 8, D Nevin 8; B Concannon 8, S Linnane 7, T Monaghan 9; C Whelan 7, C Burke 6, J Coyne 7. Subs: C O'Connor 7 for Fox (21), E Niland 7 for Burke (37), G Loughnane for Concannon (42-43, blood) & for Coyne (57), F Burke 6 for Mooney (52), R Elwood 6 for McHugo (58).
Ref - John Keenan (Wicklow)