Allianz Hurling League Division 1A (Official GAA)
LIMERICK 2.18 KILKENNY 0.15.
Two goals in lightning-fast time saw Limerick maintain their 100% record in the Allianz League.
The reigning All-Ireland champions struck twice in a matter of seconds to derail league holders Kilkenny in their own back yard and take a lead they would never lose.
Despite facing into the teeth of a strong breeze the Cats played well for long spells in the first half, but Limerick’s goal threat saw the Munster side storm ahead on the brink of half-time.
Shane Dowling grabbed the first goal, latching on to Aaron Gillane’s quick 33rd minute pass to lash the sliotar past Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy.
Seconds later the Treaty men had another goal to celebrate. Turning possession over from a quick puck-out Graeme Mulcahy offloaded the sliotar to Conor Boylan, who couldn’t miss from close range.
Limerick closed the half out in convincing fashion, stretching their lead with a Diarmuid Byrnes free converted from inside his own half and a point from play by Gillane. That left them nine clear and cruising at the break (2-10 to 0-7).
Keen to get back to winning ways after their loss to Clare it was Kilkenny who started in good fashion. Buzzing about the place they had a good lead after eight minutes (0-4 to 0-2) with Billy Ryan and James Maher among their scorers.
Limerick, however, were never too far behind. Led by the defensive steel of Tom Condon and attacking guile of Gillane they closed the gap before long, taking their first lead when Conor Boylan split the O’Loughlin’s End posts in the 28th minute.
At that stage the game seemed evenly balanced, but Limerick’s late scoring dash saw them race away from their rivals.
The leaders didn’t rest on their laurels after the restart and, by the 42nd minute, had surged 13 points clear. Gillane did most of the damage from frees, Barry Murphy adding a fine point from play after an impressive hook on Tommy Walsh before snapping up the ball and turning for the posts (2-13 to 0-7).
Kilkenny did narrow the gap in the final quarter – three points in as many minutes from Ger Malone, Liam Blanchfield and Billy Ryan raised their spirits – but with Tom Condon delivering a stellar performance they couldn’t breach the Limerick defence to get the goals to rescue their afternoon.
Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-9 (6fs), Shane Dowling 1-2, Conor Boylan 1-1, Barry Murphy 0-2, Tom Condon, Robbie Hanley, Diarmuid Byrnes, and Graeme Mulcahy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kilkenny: Richie Leahy 0-7 (4fs), Kevin Kelly 0-2 (2fs), Billy Ryan 0-2, James Maher, John Donnelly, Ger Malone, Liam Blanchfield 0-1 each.
KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Tommy Walsh, Conor Delaney, Enda Morrissey; Padraig Walsh, Paddy Deegan, Paul Murphy; Conor Fogarty, Martin Keoghan; Richie Leahy, Walter Walsh, James Maher; Billy Ryan, Kevin Kelly, John Donnelly.
Subs: Liam Blanchfield for Kelly (26), Mikey Carey for Morrissey (36), Conor Browne for Fogarty (36), Ger Malone for Maher (51).
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Tom Condon, Sean Finn, Richie English; Diarmaid Byrnes, Dan Morrissey, Paddy O’Loughlin; Robbie Hanley, Darragh O’Donovan; Kyle Hayes, Shane Dowling, Conor Boylan; Aaron Gillane, Graeme Mulcahy, Barry Murphy.
Subs: Tom Morrissey for Boylan (56), Peter Casey for Murphy (56), Pat Ryan for Mulcahy (62), Gearoid Hegarty for Hanley (69).
REFEREE: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).