By Jerome O Connell Limerick Leader Limerick were crowned All Ireland U-21 hurling champions for a sixth time this Saturday with a 0-17 to 0-11 final win over Kilkenny in Semple Stadium in Thurles.
It was the first ever meeting of the teams at U-21 level but this victory saw Limerick gain revenge for the All Ireland minor final defeat of three years ago.
For 14 members of the Limerick panel it is a second All Ireland U-21 title in three years.
In front of an attendance of 15,485 Limerick had the aid of the stiff breeze in the opening half and brought a 0-11 to 0-4 lead into the interval dressing room.
It was a half that saw Limerick register eight wides, compared to five for Kilkenny.
While Shane Walsh had The Cats off the mark inside 30-seconds, Kilkenny then went 17-minutes without a score.
Limerick were 0-7 to 0-1 ahead in this period. Aaron Gillane, Barry Nash and Peter Casey all on the mark from play for Pat Donnelly’s Shannonsiders.
Billy Ryan ended the Kilkenny drought as the rain of earlier cleared.
Cian Lynch and Gillane hit back with Limerick scores from play before a long range Ronan Lynch free sent Limerick into half time with a seven point advantage.
It was a first 30-minutes of stop-start hurling, played in slippery underfoot conditions, with no real goal chance for either side.
Scores weren’t plentiful on the change of ends after after 12-minutes of action the scoreboard was only out to 0-12 to 0-5 to Limerick with Aaron Gillane on the mark for the men in green.
Peter Casey had the advantage out to eight points but then came a run of three Alan Murphy frees for Eddie Brennan’s Leinster champions.
That left it 0-14 to 0-8 with 10-minutes to play in Semple Stadium.
John Donnelly then had the lead down to five points but Conor Boylan responded with a shot that could have been a goal.
Further points from Murphy placed-balls had just four points between the teams but Man of the Match Gillane and Oisin O’Reilly eased Limerick nerves with fine points.
Kilkenny went in search of goals but Limerick held on for success.
LIMERICK: Eoghan McNamara (Doon): Sean Finn (Bruff), Daragh Fanning (Pallasgreen), Dan Joy (Kilmallock): Ronan Lynch (Na Piarsaigh), Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), Thomas Grimes (Na Piarsaigh): Colin Ryan (Pallasgreen), Robbie Hanley (Kilmallock): Cian Lynch (Patrickswell), Tom Morrissey (Ahane), Barry Nash (South Liberties); Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh), Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell), Barry Murphy (Doon). Subs: Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh) for Cian Lynch (38mins), Andrew La Touche Cosgrave (Monaleen) for Tom Morrissey (47mins), Oisin O’Reilly (Kilmallock) for Bary Murphy (52mins), Lorcan Lyons (Monaleen) for Barry Nash (62mins).
KILKENNY: Darren Brennan (St Lachtains); Michael Cody (Dunnamaggin), Conor Delaney (Erins Own), Niall McMahon (Erins Own); Huw Lawlor (O’Loughlin Gaels), Jason Cleere (Bennettsbridge), Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan); Luke Scanlon (James Stephens), Richie Leahy (Rower Inistioge); Billy Ryran (Graigue Ballycallan), Sean Morrissey (Bennettsbridge), Liam Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge); John Walsh (Mullinavat), John Donnelly (Thomastown), Shane Walsh (Tullaroan). Subs: Alan Murphy (Glenmore) for Sean Morrissey (24mins), Pat Lyng (Rower Inistioge) for John Walsh (h-t), Eoin Kenny (Slieverue) for Shane Walsh (39mins), Martin Keoghan (Tullaroan) for Billy Ryan (41mins), Darren Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks) for Richie Leahy (44mins).
REFEREE: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)