Limerick ooze class to beat Kilkenny and earn league glory

By John Keogh Limerick Leader Sport

LIMERICK earned their 14th ever Allianz Hurling League title with 2-20 to 0-14 win over Kilkenny in the decider at Páirc Uí Chaoimh this afternoon.

Goals in either half by Barry Nash and Aaron Gillane fired Limerick to their third league crown under John Kiely following the victories in 2019 and 2020.

Kilkenny made the quicker start with Adrian Mullen, Billy Drennan and Richie Reid all on the scoresheet within the opening six minutes. However, Limerick were soon back on level terms thanks to three Aaron Gillane frees.

Limerick also created a goal chance after 12 minutes with Barry Murphy, Cian Lynch and Cathal O’Neill combining to see Seamus Flanagan in space but his first time effort sailed just wide.

A second Drennan free put Kilkenny in front once again but a Flanagan superb score levelled the game for a second time. Another Drennan placed ball saw Kilkenny clear for a third time but Nash’s goal saw Limerick go ahead.

Flanagan’s delivery was expertly brought down by Gillane. The Patrickswell man offloaded to Nash and he fired a low shot passed Eoin Murphy and into the net.

Limerick then got into their stride with Gillane and three Diarmaid Byrnes frees putting them in a good position in the run up to half time with Drennan and Mullen keeping Kilkenny in the contest.

Colin Coughlan, Nash and O’Donovan also added scores late in the half that saw Limerick 1-13 to 0-10 ahead at the break.

Mullen started the second half scoring with an effort from play that was immediately cancelled out by Gillane’s fourth free of the afternoon.

A second Gillane free of the half and a gorgeous Flanagan effort from play had Limerick seven points to the good but a Paddy Deegan and Drennan had that back to five on the 50 minute mark.

Kilkenny were then denied by two quick fire saves by Nickie Quaid as the Effin netminder first denied Martin Keoghan and then Billy Ryan to keep Limerick’s lead intact.

The killer blow then came on 54 minutes when Lynch found Flanagan on the Kilkenny ’21 and he took off, before offloading to Gillane and he hit a first time shot into the back of the net for Limerick’s second goal and send them to a stunning win.

Scorers – Limerick: Aaron Gillane 1-7 (5 frees), Diarmaid Byrnes 0-5 (3 frees), Barry Nash 1-1, Seamus Flangan 0-3, Darragh O’Donovan 0-2, Colin Coughlan and Cathal O’Neill 0-1.

Scorers – Kilkenny: Billy Drennan 0-5 (5 frees), Adrian Mullen 0-3, Richie Reid and Paddy Deegan and Eoin Cody (1 free) 0-2 each, Huw Lawlor 0-1 each.

LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Dan Morrissey, Colin Coughlan; Darragh O’Donovan, Barry Murphy; Gearóid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, Cathal O’Neill; Aaron Gillane, Séamus Flanagan, Peter Casey.

Subs: Tom Morrissey for Murphy (h-t), Richie English for M Casey (47 mins), Conor Boylan for Lynch (58 mins), Donnacha Ó Dálaigh for Flanagan (63 mins), Shane O’Brien for M Casey (67 mins), Mark Quinlan for Byrnes (71 mins).

KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Mikey Butler, Tommy Walsh, Padraic Walsh; Richie Reid, Huw Lawlor, David Blanchfield; Conor Fogarty, Paddy Deegan; John Donnelly, Adrian Mullen, Billy Ryan; Billy Drennan, Martin Keoghan, Eoin Cody.

Subs: Cian Kenny for Donnelly (h-t), Paddy Mullen for Fogarty (47 mins), Timmy Clifford for Mullen (52 mins), Alan Murphy for Ryan (56 mins), Gearóid Dunne for Drennen (56 mins).

REFEREE: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)