All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final
By Matt O’Callaghan



Limerick captain Declan Hannon and Cian Lynch lifting the Liam McCarthy Cup for the three in a row. – Photo Den O’Brien. – All-Ireland Senior Hurling final

A display for the ages by Gearóid Hegarty was just one of the many highlights as Limerick etched the county’s name on hurling’s annals by becoming the fourth county to complete three in a row All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship successes.
This will rank up there with one of the great finals as favourites Limerick were pushed to the final whistle by a spirited and resilient Kilkenny side before Declan Hannon earned the right to climb the Hogan Stand to take custody of the McCarthy Cup for a third year in a row and a third time in four years.
Limerick’s first half performance was almost on a par with the never to be forgotten consummate showing in the first half of last year’s All-Ireland final but on this occasion the opposition was Kilkenny whose resilience in the face of adversity is legendary as they kept on Limerick’s heels to be flatteringly just four points in arrears at half time.
It was a final that had everything in unprece-dented July swelter, a full blooded contest of high intensity embellished with some excellent sharp shooting and very well refereed by Cork official, Colm Lyons.
The sharp shooting was such that ten Limerick players got on the scoresheet while as many as fifteen black and amber clad men raised flags.
Limerick won because the half forward line of Hegarty and his co-conspirators Kyle Hayes and Tom Morrissey for the most part overran the Kilkenny half back line and contributed a whopping 1-13 of their side’s total all from play.
Limerick’s capacity not to panic and respond following the concession of the goals was crucial as was the response to the two occasions in the second half when Kilkenny achieved parity and when momentum briefly appeared to be on the Cats’ side.
Diarmaid Byrnes from a long range free opened Limerick’s account in the second minute and three minutes later, John Kiely’s men made a statement with a cracking goal. A long delivery into the danger area was somehow steered into the path of Gearóid Hegarty by Séamus Flanagan and the St. Patrick’s clubman sublimely flicked up the ball before racing in to plant an unstoppable shot into the top corner of Eoin Murphy’s net.
Aaron Gillane added a point before T.J. Reid opened Kilkenny’s account on the seventh minute and Eoin Cody doubled his side’s tally sixty seconds later.
Gillane and Reid traded frees before points from Kyle Hayes and Diarmaid Byrnes stretched Limerick’s early lead to five. Two points in minute for Kilkenny from Paddy Deegan and Martin Keoghan were cancelled out by points from Tom Morrissey and Gearóid Hegarty.
The Reid brothers T.J and team captain Richie kept the scoreboard ticking over for Kilkenny and closed the gap to 1-7 to 0-7 after 18 minutes.
Gearóid Hegarty and Mikey Carey added to their sides’ tallies before points from Aaron Gillane and Séamus Flanagan saw the defending All-Ireland champions open up a five points lead.
An Adrian Mullen point for Kilkenny was trumped by a Diarmaid Byrnes free and a point from Gearóid Hegarty following confirmation from Hawkeye.
Points for Brian Cody’s men from T.J. Reid and Paddy Deegan were negated by white flags from Aaron Gillane and an inspirational point from Declan Hannon.
A T.J. Reid free was quickly answered by Kyle Hayes before Pádraig Walsh and T.J. Reid closed the gap to four.
The scoring rate acce-lerated as the short whistle approached with Dan Morrissey and Pádraig Walsh and Séamus Flana-gan and T.J. Reid trading late white flags to leave the scoreline at Limerick 1-17, Kilkenny 0-16 at the change of ends.
Limerick extended the lead to six immediately after the resumption courtesy of points from Kyle Hayes and Aaron Gillane..
On 39 minutes, Kilkenny were thrown a life line when Walter Walsh, a half time substitute, won a possession on the right and delivered into the centre where Martin Keoghan drilled the ball to an unmarked Billy Ryan who gave Nickie Quaid no chance from close range.
Gearóid Hegarty responded with a Limerick point, Adrian Mullen cancelled it out before Diarmaid Byrnes landed a 65.
Walter Walsh and Aaron Gillane exchanged points before Kilkenny threw down the gauntlet to Limerick. A ball into the Limerick danger area was steered by Eoin Cody into the path of Martin Keoghan to divert to the Limerick net quickly followed by a point from John Donnelly, who had just come on as a substitute, to draw Kilkenny level 1-22 to 2-19 after 48 minutes.
Limerick hit back with three in a row from Tom Morrissey, Diarmaid Byrnes and Morrissey again before a T.J. Reid free was cancelled out by the Ahane sharpshooter’s third white flag in nine minutes.
It was now Kilkenny’s turn to enjoy a productive spell and points from Reid, Adrian Mullen and Richie Hogan had parity restored by the 63rd minute.
It was now a test of John Kiely’s three in a row chasing champions and they were not found wan-ting and five unanswered points almost put the Shannonsiders into the history books. Kyle Hayes, substitutes Cathal O’Neill and Conor Boylan, Aaron Gillane and Gearóid Hegarty all found the range as the clock had ticked into added time.
Kilkenny do not do rolling over and battled to the end and late points from Tommy Walsh, Alan Murphy and David Blanchfield ensured the outcome was on the edge until Colm Lyons’ final blast.
Scorers: Limerick: Gearoid He-garty 1-5; Aaron Gillane 0-7, 4fs; Diarmaid Byrnes 0-5 (3fs, 1-65), Kyle Hayes, Tom Morrissey 0-4 each; Séamus Flanagan 0-2; Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey, Cathal O’Neill, Conor Boylan 0-1 each.
Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-9, 8fs; Martin Keoghan 1-1; Adrian Mullen 0-3; Billy Ryan 1-0; Paddy Deegan, Pádraig Walsh 0-2 each,; Eoin Cody, Mikey Carey Richie Reid, Walter Walsh, John Donnelly, Richie Hogan, Tommy Walsh, Alan Murphy, David Blanchfield 0-1 each.
Nickie Quaid (Effin); Seán Finn (Bruff), Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh), Barry Nash (South Liberties); Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrick-swell), Declan Hannon (Adare) – Captain, Dan Morrissey (Ahane); William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh), Darragh O’Donovan (Doon); Gearóid Hegarty (St Patrick’s), Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), Tom Morrissey (Ahane); Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell), Séamus Flanagan (Feohanagh-Castlemahon), Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock).
Subs: Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh) for Graeme Mulcahy (49), David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca) for Darragh O’Donovan (52), Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh) for Séamus Flanagan (60), Cathal O’Neill (Crecora-Manister) for Tom Morrissey (64).
Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy (Glenmore); Mikey Butler (O’Loughlin Gaels), Huw Lawlor (O’Loughlin Gaels), Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan); Mikey Carey (Young Irelands), Richie Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks) – Captain, Paddy Deegan (O’Loughlin Gaels); Cian Kenny (James Stephens), Conor Browne (James Stephens); Adrian Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Pádraig Walsh (Tullaroan), Billy Ryan (Graigue-Ballycallan); T.J. Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks) Martin Keoghan (Tull-aroan), Eoin Cody (Bally-hale Shamrocks).
Subs: Walter Walsh (Tullogher-Rosbercon) for Cian Kenny (HT), John Donnelly (Thomastown) for Pádraig Walsh (47), David Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge) for Conor Browne (53), Richie Hogan (Danesfort) for Eoin Cody (59), Alan Murphy (Glenmore) for Paddy Deegan (70+2).
Referee: Colm Lyons, Cork.