Superb second half performance sees Limerick back into the All-Ireland final:

By John Keogh Limerick Leader Sport

LIMERICK are into a fourth successive All-Ireland hurling final following a 2-24 to 1-18 win over Galway at Croke Park this Saturday evening.

Goals in either half from Aaron Gillane propelled Limerick to a victory against a Galway side that brought a huge challenge. Limerick recovered from a five-point deficit at one stage to make it a one-point game at the break.

John Kiely’s men were the superior side in the second half and were full value for their nine-point victory. They await the result of the second semi-final between Clare and Kilkenny on Sunday to see who they will face in the final on Sunday, July 23.

Evan Niland and Gillane traded frees in the opening minutes but a well-taken score by Brian Concannon had Galway a point to the good, before the Limerick number 13 go the opening goal of the contest.

Gillane rose above Gearóid McInerney to collect Tom Morrissey’s delivery and fired to the net from close range. However, Galway responded superbly with the next four scores. Niland sent over three frees, while Conor Whelan also hit the target.

Limerick stopped the mini-rot with a Gillane free and a Peter Casey point from play saw the score level for a second time in the 13th minute.

The game was then turned on its head when a beautiful piece of vision by Kevin Cooney released Cathal Mannion and he delivered a bullet of a shot into the top corner of Nickie Quaid’s goal.

Galway then upped the pace with scores from Concannon and two from Niland but Limerick responded with Gearóid Hegarty, Tom Morrissey and Kyle Hayes scores of their own.

Niland and Mannion then put Galway five to the good and they were full value for their advantage at that stage. Limerick slowly chipped away at that lead through Byrnes and Darragh O’Donovan but Galway could have had a second goal only for the quick reflexes of Mike Casey.

Concannon’s third of the half restored a five-point lead for Henry Shefflin’s men but Limerick finished the half with four-in-a-row. Cian Lynch, Gillane, Seamus Flanagan and Byrnes efforts saw the score at 1-13 to 1-12 at the break in Galway’s favour.

Flanagan levelled the game with the first attack of the second half but Whelan’s third of the contest put Galway back in front. A Byrnes free squared the game up once more and then a Gillane free put Limerick in front for the first time since the sixth minute.

Tom Morrissey made it a two-point advantage moments later after being set up by Flanagan but a Kevin Cooney effort soon had Galway back to the minimum deficit.

Limerick then struck for a second goal. Lynch and David Reidy combined to set up Gillane. His first time strike hit the crossbar but pulled on the ground with an unstoppable shot to see them into a 2-16 to 1-15 advantage with 46 minutes played.

Niland’s eighth free of the game brought Galway back to within a goal but a solo effort from Hayes restored a four-point advantage for Limerick. Scores from Hegarty, Casey and Reidy followed to put Limerick 2-20 to 1-16 ahead with 58 minutes of the game played.

Limerick finished the game strongly with the subs bench contributing as always. Cathal O’Neill and Graeme Mulcahy adding to the scoreline that saw Limerick into a fourth All-Ireland final on the trot.

SCORERS – LIMERICK: Aaron Gillane 2-6 (0-5 frees), Diarmaid Byrnes 0-3 (0-3 frees), Peter Casey, Gearóid Hegarty, Tom Morrissey, Kyle Hayes and Seamus Flanagan 0-2 each, Darragh O’Donovan, Cian Lynch, David Reidy, Graeme Mulcahy and Cathal O’Neill 0-1 each.

SCORERS – GALWAY: Evan Niland 0-9 (0-9 frees), Cathal Mannion 1-1, Brian Concannon and Conor Whelan 0-3 each, Kevin Cooney and Tom Monaghan 0-1 each.

LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Mike Casey, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, William O’Donoghue, Kyle Hayes; Darragh O’Donovan, Cian Lynch; Gearóid Hegarty, David Reidy, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Peter Casey.

SUBS: Cathal O’Neill for Tom Morrissey (56 mins), Graeme Mulcahy for P Casey (67 mins), Conor Boylan for Hegarty (68 mins),

GALWAY: Eanna Murphy, Jack Grealish, Gearóid McInerney, Darren Morrissey; Padraic Mannion, Daithi Burke, Sean Linnane; Josephy Cooney, Ronan Glennon; Brian Concannon, Cianan Fahy, Cathal Mannion; Kevin Cooney, Conor Whelan, Evan Niland.

SUBS: Tom Monaghan for Glennon (48 mins), Conor Cooney for Linnane (54 mins), Liam Collins for Concannon (63 mins), Fintan Burke for Fahy (67 mins),

REFEREE: James Owens (Wexford)