The All-Ireland champions’ barnstorming first half was too much for their opponents to recover from
By James Roulston Mooney
The Limerick starting front-six were on fire as John Kiely’s men posted a 0-24 to 0-19 victory over Henry Shefflin’s Galway on Sunday afternoon.
The Treaty County’s forward unit from numbers 10 to 15 combined to score 0-20 of their side’s points on a day where the All-Ireland champions did nearly everything right.
It took a minute for them to get going but as soon as the clock entered the second it became clear who was going to come out on top in the Galway sunlight.
Michael Houlihan and Tom Morrissey put up ice-cold performances with placed ball duties helping them to four and eight points respectively.
Cian Lynch also sent a reminder to fans that he is still a Rolls-Royce of a hurler with some fine work at centre-forward.
The full-forward line on the day – Shane O’Brien, Seamus Flanagan and Peter Casey – were also on hand to deliver throughout the game, often causing headaches for Galway’s full-backs.
Galway’s Conor Cooney and Tom Monaghan shone for the home side, with the former posting the highest individual tally in the match.
But the attack was often thwarted by Limerick’s vice-like grip on high balls in the middle third, with their own attacks often started from such work.
Three different scoring runs of at least four unanswered points from John Kiely’s team in the first half saw them enter the final 35 minutes of the tie with a seven-point buffer.
Cooney got Galway on the board first in both halves and his team reacted much better in the second half.
The seven-point deficit became eight after 50 minutes of play but Galway had managed four of their own scores before Limerick could hit three.
The All-Ireland holders got back into focus once more and sent three flying between the sticks without reply but fell back into their recliners for much of the final third of the match.
Cooney led the comeback charge and made the tie billed to be competitive live up to such expectations.
Former University of Limerick Fitzgibbon star Kyle Hayes avoided a red card late in the game after hitting Galway finisher Brian Concannon in the face with his hurl.
However, Galway’s 0-8 to 0-2 stretch at the end of the game, a period that saw Limerick remain scoreless for 15 minutes, was too little, too late.
The visitors, who had coasted to the 0-14 to 0-7 lead they had carved for themselves in the first half, now held their hands above the candlelight.
But it was not to be for Galway as Limerick killed the game off in added time.
Substitute Donnacha Ó Dálaigh added the final blow with the conclusive hit of the sliotar after Tom Morrissey put his last two points on the board and the curtain came down on what was an uphill battle for Galway from minute two.
Galway: Darach Fahy; Jack Grealish (Darren Morrissey 35′), TJ Brennan Tiernan Killeen; Padraic Mannion, Gearoid McInerney, Joseph Cooney; Sean Linnane, Cianan Fahy; Tom Monaghan, Conor Cooney, Donal O’Shea (Conor Whelan 35′); Jason Flynn (Brian Concannon 35′), Kevin Cooney, Martin McManus (Liam Collins 67′.
Scorers: C. Cooney (0-12), T. Monaghan (0-3), K. Cooney (0-2), C. Fahy (0-1), S. Linnane (0-1).
Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Richie English, Barry Nash; Ciaran Barry, Dan Morrissey, Kyle Hayes; Darragh O’Donovan, Willie O’Donoghue (Adam English 60′); Tom Morrissey, Cian Lynch (Gearóid Hegarty 59′), Michael Houlihan (Conor Boylan 45′); Shane O’Brien, Seamus Flanagan (Donnacha Ó Dálaigh 67′), Peter Casey.
Scorers: T. Morrissey (0-8), M. Houlihan (0-4), C, Lynch (0-3), S. O’Brien (0-2), P. Casey (0-2), S. Flanagan (0-1), D. Ó Dálaigh (0-1).