Treaty earn Kiely a shot at redemption
Limerick 1-20 Galway 0-17
Sport doesn't always provide the opportunity to make amends for a previous defeat - particularly when almost 20 years have passed.
But John Kiely has the chance to atone in a big way for Limerick's 1996 All-Ireland senior hurling final loss to Wexford when the counties meet in next month's Bord Gáis Energy U21 decider at Semple Stadium.
Kiely, the county's current U21 supremo, was a sub almost two decades ago but still can't watch a Limerick hurling video nasty.
He admitted: "I don't have great memories, I was sub the same day.
"I still haven't brought myself to watch it on video."
On Saturday, Limerick scored a six-point victory over a fancied Galway outfit to book their place in the final for the first time since 2002.
Tom Morrissey's goal with 11 minutes left proved crucial as Galway's hopes of a 'clean sweep' were ended by the Shannonsiders.
This defeat at U21 level will once again prompt calls for change in the grade as battle-hardened but fresh Limerick saw off a team playing its first game in the competition this year.
A number of Galway's players have enjoyed intermediate and senior success this summer but as a collective at U21 level, they played second fiddle on Saturday night at Semple Stadium.
Galway's senior stars Cathal Mannion, Jason Flynn and Conor Whelan had to go again just six days after that thrilling victory over Tipperary at Croke Park.
Flynn scored seven points, including four placed balls and a glorious sideline cut, but Whelan managed just a point and Mannion was scoreless.
Galway boss Johnny Kelly said: "Yeah, look, it's not an excuse. It's not my place to say how it should be set up. But U21 is an awful important grade.
"We had the intermediate team this year and that was great, it gave guys games but is it competitive enough when you see the pace of that game in comparison? It's something but it's not everything. Maybe someone should look at that."
Galway came from six points down to draw level at the break, 0-10 apiece.
They nudged ahead early in the second half but when Limerick came with another burst, the Westerners had no answers this time.
Brian Molloy provided stout resistance with five points from play but senior panellist Morrissey, David Dempsey and Colin Ryan were impressive in attack as Limerick did enough.
Attempting to play down Limerick's final chances, Kiely added: "This is a great Wexford (U21) team, the way they demolished Kilkenny in a Leinster final. They haven't really had anyone taken to them to date. "They were at their ease today (against Antrim).
"We are going to be rightly up against it. It is going to be a huge challenge. We will have a crack."
A win for Limerick would secure a badly-needed All-Ireland crown and ensure that they end the season on a high and can crack on into 2016 with renewed optimism. And Kiely said: "We need an All-Ireland senior title, not U21. It is all about developing the players. They have to look forward to the future and contribute to whatever they can to Limerick winning a Liam MacCarthy.
"That is the bottom line. If it takes four years, five year or six years; whatever it takes, this crop of players are going to be involved in it.
"They have got the ability, the determination and commitment.
"Ok, we are in an U21 final, but, ultimately, for Limerick people it is about winning a senior title down the road."
scorers - Limerick: T Morrissey 1-3, D Dempsey 0-4, R Lynch (2f, 1 sl) & C Ryan 0-3 each, D Byrnes & D O'Donovan 0-2, G Hegarty, C Lynch & B Nash 0-1. Galway: J Flynn 0-7 (2f, 2 65s, 1 sl), B Molloy 0-5, D Nevin 0-2, S Cooney, C Whelan & E Brannigan 0-1 each.
Limerick - D McCarthy; S Finn, R English, M Casey; D Byrnes, B O'Connell, G Hegarty; D O'Donovan, P Ryan; R Lynch, C Lynch, D Dempsey; C Ryan, T Morrissey, B Nash. Subs: A La Touche-Cosgrave for P Ryan (51), P Casey for Nash (51), M O'Callaghan for M Casey (59), J Kelliher for Morrissey (60+1).
Galway - G Loughnane; D Cronin, P Killeen, B Keane; S Sweeney, S Cooney, É Burke; K McHugo, D Nevin; E Brannigan, C Mannion, C Whelan; B Molloy, R O'Meara, J Flynn. Subs: M Mullins for O'Meara (21), J Kennedy for Brannigan (41), J Ryan for McHugo (52), B Burke for Kennedy (56).
ref - F Horgan (Tipperary).