Limerick rise and shine
Treaty end 17-year wait for Munster title as Dublin made to fight for Leinster double
ENDING a 40-year wait for the All-Ireland hurling title is the new target for Limerick after their spectacular nine-point victory over Cork in the Munster final.
It was Limerick's first Munster title success since 1996 and came after a rampaging final 10 minutes, during which they hit 14-man Cork for seven unanswered points.
The dismissal of Cork full-forward Patrick Horgan on a straight red card by Westmeath referee James McGrath just before half-time was a major talking point. The sending off handed Limerick a significant advantage which they exploited in the searing heat.
Horgan was sent off for a pull on Paudie O'Brien under a dropping ball, a controversial decision which changed the texture of a game where the sides were level at half-time.
Cork hung on for much of the second half but wilted on the run-in when Limerick pressed home their numerical advantage.
"It's a great achievement and is just reward for a team that has been very honest in everything they've done – on and off the field – in gym work, nutrition and anything we've asked them to do. I'm glad their performance today mirrored that level of preparation," said Limerick manager John Allen, who coached Cork to their last Munster title in 2006.
Cork boss Jimmy Barry-Murphy described the dismissal as "an unbelievable decision" and added "that's all I can say. Anybody who was at the game can judge for themselves."
The win sets Limerick up for an All-Ireland semi-final on August 18, while Cork will take on Kilkenny in the quarter-final next Sunday week.
Clare will meet Galway in the other quarter-final. It means that Kilkenny and Galway – last year's All-Ireland winners and runners-up respectively – could reach the semi-final, in which case the pairings would be Dublin v Kilkenny and Limerick v Galway.
The Treaty's triumph completed a provincial double for counties who were in Division 1B of the NHL this year. Dublin, who beat Limerick in the 1B promotion play-off, won Leinster for the first time since 1961. This is the first year since 1934 that Limerick and Dublin won the Munster and Leinster titles in the same season.
In Croke Park, Jim Gavin paid tribute to his players after they came from behind to beat Meath and earn an eighth Leinster title in nine years. It was a piece of history for the boys in blue as they completed their first provincial double since 1942 and the first in Leinster since Offaly in 1981.
Gavin was impressed with how his team responded to finding themselves two points down at half-time, having only scored 1-4 in the first period. Led by youngsters Ciaran Kilkenny, Paul Mannion and Jack McCaffrey , they roared back after the break and finished 2-15 to 0-14 winners, to the delight of their manager.
"There were a lot of hard questions asked of the team, probably for the first time since we played in the National League final," said Gavin "We keep winning. That's what it is about."