All-Ireland Under Hurling Championship Final

John Horan Presenting The Cup To Limerick Captain Tom Morrissey Photo John Mortell
Limerick v Kilkenny
9-9-17 All Ireland U21 Hurling Champions 2017’.
Limerick victorious over Kilkenny in Semple Stadium.

Limerick were crowned All-Ireland under 21 hurling champions, for the second time in three years, in Semple Stadium, Thurles, on Saturday afternoon.
Limerick, who were favourites for outright success in the competition from the outset, justified the lofty rating with a composed and efficient performance that proved too much for the Leinster champions, in front of an attendance of 15,485 of which the majority made the trip from Shannonside.
Limerick won comfortably against a side that came nowhere near presenting a challenge like that of Cork in the Munster final or Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Limerick could only play what was put in front of them, and that they did very competently against a side that tried hard to set the terms of engagement but Limerick were having none of it in a game that certainly will not rank among the classics of the competition.
It was Limerick’s sixth appearance in a final and in the end Pat Donnelly’s young men experienced little difficulty in making it six wins from six.
A six-point winning margin was scarcely representative of the level of supremacy enjoyed by Limerick. Other indications are that after 40 minutes of play Kil-kenny had only registered 0-4 and over the hour could only muster four points in total from play. In terms of wides, Limerick shot fifteen to Kilkenny’s ten.
Limerick squeezed Kil-kenny from the start, and patiently, with the help of the wind, build a lead and took a seven-point cushion to the changing-room at half time.
Alarm bells were ringing for Kilkenny early on as manager Eddie Brennan reacted by emptying his bench, and by the three quarters stage had used the full complement of replacements. Apart from Alan Murphy who took over the free taking duties, the impact of the fresh legs was negligible.
Contrast that with Limerick: again Pat Donnelly introduced substitutes who made a difference. The Limerick manager sent on Conor Boylan for Cian Lynch after 36 minutes but not before the Patrickswell man had made a huge contribution to his county’s cause. The manager revealed after the game that Cian was out of the game 48 hours before the Thurles showdown following an injury received in a club game but recovered sufficiently to put in a massive 35 minutes for Limerick’s cause. Andrew La Touche Cosgrave and speedster Oisin O’Reilly joined the fray to add more problems for tiring Kilkenny legs.
Every player in green manned up on the day. Aaron Gillane, who hit five magnificent points from play, scooped the Man of the Match award in what must have been a very close call with the brilliant Robbie Hanley, with Kyle Hayes also in the mix for the accolade after another outstanding performance by the young Kildimo-Pallaskenry centre half back.
There were just 25 seconds on the clock when Shane Walsh opened Kilkenny’s account with a point into the teeth of the breeze. Limerick hit back with seven in a row, four coming from Man of the Match Aaron Gillane and from Barry Nash, Ronan Lynch and Peter Casey.
Billy Ryan and Peter Casey traded points before Shane Walsh frees each side of a Cian Lynch point left Limerick leading 0-9 to 0-4 with the interval fast approaching. Limerick put more daylight between them and the young Cats with late points from Gillane and Ronan Lynch to lead 0-11 to 0-4 at the interval.
Neither side raised a flag in the first ten minutes of the second half until Aaron Gillane shot over in the 40th minute. Liam Blanchfield had wind assisted Kilkenny’s first of the half three minutes later which was quickly cancelled out by Peter Casey.Substitute Alan Murphy and Ronan Lynch traded frees before Kilkenny staged a mini revival with three in a row from two Murphy frees and John Donnelly to close the gap to five, 0-14 to 0-9 with eight minutes remaining. Conor Boylan ended Kilkenny’s scoring sequence by restoring a six points cushion for Limerick but a Murphy free and 65 quickly brought it back to four as Kilkenny briefly rallied with five minutes remaining.
It was then that Limerick’s character, resilience and ability to close out games came to the fore and points by Gillane and substitute Oisin O’Reilly firmly slammed the door on a Noreside revival. Pat Donnelly’s team comfortably closed out the game in the four minutes of time added on to bring a sixth title in the competition to Limerick.
Scorers: Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-7, 2fs; Ronan Lynch 3fs, Peter Casey 0-3 each; Barry Nash, Cian Lynch, Conor Boylan, Oisin O’Reilly 0-1 each.
Kilkenny: Alan Murphy 0-5, 4fs, 1-65; Shane Walsh 0-3, 2fs; Billy Ryan, Liam Blanchfield, John Donnelly 0-1 each.
Limerick: Eoghan McNamara (Doon): Seán Finn (Bruff), Darragh Fanning (Pallasgreen), Dan Joy (Kilmallock): Ronan Lynch (Na Piarsaigh), Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), Thomas Grimes (Na Piarsaigh): Colin Ryan (Pallasgreen), Robbie Hanley (Kilmallock): Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell), Barry Murphy (Doon), Cian Lynch (Patrickswell); Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh), Tom Morrissey (Ahane), Barry Nash (South Liberties).
Subs: Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh) for Lynch (36), Andrew La Touche Cosgrave (Monaleen) for Morrissey (47), Oisin O’Reilly (Kilmallock) for Murphy (53), Lorcan Lyons (Monaleen) for Nash (60+2).
Kilkenny: Darren Brennan (St Lachtain’s); Michael Cody (Dunnamaggin), Conor Delaney (Erin’s Own), Niall McMahon (Erin’s Own); Huw Lawlor (O’Loughlin Gaels), Jason Cleere (Bennettsbridge), Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan); Luke Scanlon (James Stephens), Richie Leahy (Rower Inistioge); Liam Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge), Seán Morrissey (Bennettsbridge), Billy Ryan (Graigue-Ballycallan); John Walsh (Mullinavat), John Donnelly (Thomastown), Shane Walsh (Tullaroan).
Subs: Alan Murphy (Glenmore) for Morrissey (25), Pat Lyng (Rower Inistioge) Captain for John Walsh (HT), Eoin Kenny (Slieverue) for Shane Walsh (40), Martin Keoghan (Tullaroan) for Ryan (41), Darren Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks) for Leahy (44).
Referee: Paud O’Dwyer, Carlow.