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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Pat Nolan

Limerick overcome Galway test to set up tantalising All-Ireland final date against Kilkenny

Limerick 0-27 Galway 1-21

Limerick have held off a fierce challenge from Galway to set up a three-in-a-row tilt against Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final.

Having trailed for various spells in the second half, albeit by never more than a point, the All-Ireland champions finished strongly with David Reidy making a key contribution off the bench to set up a first final meeting with Kilkenny since 2007.

It will also be the first clash of the counties since the 2019 All-Ireland semi-final, won by Kilkenny and which represents Limerick’s last Championship defeat having now gone 15 games unbeaten in the interim.

This was arguably the first serious contest that Limerick have been drawn into in a knockout encounter since that game three years ago and as the second half wore on, it appeared as though a Henry Shefflin-Brian Cody face-off on July 17 was on the cards instead before John Kiely’s men steadied themselves and eked out yet another victory.

Tom Monaghan put Galway in front after just 32 seconds but they were battered by Limerick thereafter as the All-Ireland champions hit them for 0-6 without reply, albeit Galway were extremely wasteful in that period themselves amid a hectic opening.

Galway's Brian Concannon and Barry Nash of Limerick (©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo)

To their credit, Galway managed to stay in the game despite their much vaunted opponents racing out of the traps. Seamus Flanagan resumed his Munster final form with two early scores but while Jack Grealish got to grips with him thereafter, Aaron Gillane was rampant throughout the first half, in which he hit 0-7, 0-5 of it from play.

Employing Cathal Mannion in a deeply withdrawn role from his allotted corner-forward berth, Galway finally got the scoreboard moving and were back within two points by the 25th minute, as Limerick held a 0-10 to 0-8 lead.

But the champions seemed to be able to step on the gas when needed. Gillane’s fifth point pushed them four clear at 0-13 to 0-9 but a Conor Cooney free and two Mannion scores from distances brought Galway back to a point approaching half-time. There was time for another Limerick kick, however.

Gillane slotted a free when Darren Morrissey fouled Graeme Mulcahy after being caught in possession from a short puckout, captain Declan Hannon floated over another and then Gillane completed a brilliant first half and a torrid one for his marker Daithi Burke to make it 0-16 to 0-12 at the break.

Galway had put in quite the shift and yet they were still four points adrift, with as many wides as scores, along with another two efforts that were dropped short.

Meanwhile, Limerick’s far greater economy was reflected in the fact that 16 scores came from 21 shots.

An anticipated Limerick surge in the third quarter to put the game to bed didn’t materialise, with Galway pegging them back immediately and dragging them into a contest that went all the way to the finish.

After Mannion had cut the deficit to a goal, Brian Concannon wiped it out with a brilliant strike from a David Burke delivery in the 37th minute and it was very much game on when Joseph Cooney pushed them ahead.

Limerick didn’t open their second half account until the 47th minute through a Diarmaid Byrnes free from distance, which was to prove a vital scoring source for them in the second half as their attack was largely blunted.

The sides swapped the lead at various stages and were level seven times in the second half with never more than a single point between the two until injury time.

All bar one of Limerick’s second half points were Byrnes frees by the 62nd minute, when Gillane got going again with his eighth of the day to draw his side level.

By then Cian Lynch was on the field along with Peter Casey but the two All Stars’ influence was minimal, bar a hook by Lynch on Ronan Glennon at a stage when every play seemed critical to the outcome, though it was from Reidy that Limerick got their biggest return.

Introduced in the 61st minute, he struck three points, one immediately after Gillane to restore Limerick’s lead and after Fintan Burke had drawn Galway level, he hit two more to give his side breathing space, with Byrnes rounding out the scoring with his sixth of the day from placed balls to finally quell the Galway challenge.

LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Barry Nash (0-1); Diamaid Byrnes (0-6f), Declan Hannon (0-1), Dan Morrissey; William O’Donoghue (0-1), Darragh O’Donovan; Gearoid Hegarty (0-1), Kyle Hayes (0-3), Tom Morrissey (0-1); Aaron Gillane (0-8, 0-2f), Seamus Flanagan (0-2), Graeme Mulcahy.

Subs: Peter Casey for Mulcahy (55), Cian Lynch for Tom Morrissey (57), David Reidy (0-3) for O’Donovan (61), Cathal O’Neill for Hegarty (62), Conor Boylan for Flanagan (67).

GALWAY: Eanna Murphy; Darren Morrissey, Jack Grealish, Daithi Burke; Joseph Cooney (0-1), Padraic Mannion (0-2, 0-1f), Fintan Burke (0-1); Ronan Glennon (0-2), David Burke; Tom Monaghan (0-4), Conor Cooney (0-5, 0-4f), Jason Flynn; Cathal Mannion (0-4), Brian Concannon (1-0), Conor Whelan (0-2).

Subs: Cianan Fahy for Flynn (53), Johnny Coen for Glennon (64), Evan Niland for David Burke (66).

REFEREE: Thomas Walsh (Waterford).

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