A repeat of last year’s All-Ireland final was on the cards in Cork today, as the 97th league final went ahead with Limerick facing off against Kilkenny.
Adrien Mullen showed no signs of lack of match fitness when he grabbed the first score of the game to the delight of the outnumbered traveling Kilkenny fans. A wide from himself was his next action, coming after Diarmuid Brynes registered the first wide of the game from a free. He followed that up by hitting against the wind and out wide again, which was very unlike the Patrickswell man. Billy Drennan proved to be as clinical as ever, taking advantage of a foul on Huw Lawlor. It was not an easy free for anybody to take, but the Galmoy man was up for it doubling Kilkenny’s lead. The Cats followed that up with another point as Richie Reid received a handpass from a Martin Keoghan and in acres of space but it over the black spot.
Limerick followed that up with two points, settling into the game with Arron Gillane bursting over two frees. There was a scare when Seamus Flanagan found himself on the edge of the goal with the ball on the floor, the bums raised off the seats however they returned swiftly after the ball ultimately went wide. It was not long after though when Gillane drew level with his third free of the game. Billy Drennan settled any nerves though with another free for himself to put Kilkenny back in the lead, for a few moments anyway. Limerick went the other end and Seamus Flanagan near the sideline, surrounded by black and amber, hit the Treaty’s first score from play. After 15 minutes it was four points a piece.
Billy Drennan forced a white flag with another dead ball situation, however, Limerick forced a green one with Barry Nash hitting the back of the net after ghosting all the way up from the backs. Limerick got blown for throwing the ball, with allowed Drennan another chance to add to his tally, which he certainly did. It was tat for tat with Gillane and Richie Reid sharing scores next as just one point separated the sides. Diarmuid Byrnes made up for his earlier missed free by scoring two points back to back. Adrien Mullen got the then score of the game when he lost his man, flicked it back onto himself right on the sideline, and hit it over the bar. Barry Nash kept the Cats at a sparing distance by going to the other end before Diarmuid Byrnes settled Limerick into the game and made it a two-score game.
Paddy Deegan under instruction from Derek Lyng dropped a bit deeper, which allowed him to get a score from his own 65. Colin Coughlan responded immediately before Eoin Cody got himself on the scoreboard registering his first score of the game, with the Cats actually looking for a goal, but taking their point. The goal was surely needed though as Limerick started creating some daylight between the two teams with three scores in a row at the hands of Darragh O’Donovan, Cathal O’Neill, and Arron Gillane.
Halt Time: Kilkenny 0-10 Limerick 1-13
Adrien Mullen, much like the first half got the first score of the 35 but from the 45-yard line, Gillane got Limerick’s first score of the game. Gillane and Flanagan got the next two points with Limerick very much in the driving seat. Kilkenny was next to get the next few scores with Deegan and Drennan putting the game back to six points between them. Nicky Quaid was called into action by Eoin Cody and Billy Ryan with The Cats searching for a goal, but nothing got by him. After the first 15, it was 13 points to 1-16.
Kilkenny made it a hattrick though with Huw Lawlor fighting the ball over the bar. Limerick seemed to take their foot off the peddle after being firmly in the driving seat. They managed to find the peddle again with another point though at the hands of Darragh O’Donovan after Kilkenny made a sub with Adrien Mullen making way for Timmy Clifford. It was a disaster though as just in a flash of an eye, Limerick was 12 points ahead. Gillane found himself in acres of space and got the ball in the net with Eoin Murphy looking on. Cian Lynch picked out Flanagan who found Gillane, who found John Kiely’s side’s second goal of the game. Flanagan added a point a few seconds later before Byrnes scored another two.
The game fizzled out after that with Kilkenny fans leaving with a few minutes to go. They didn’t miss much to be fair with only Eoin Cody grabbing a score in the last ten minutes. The ref blew up his whistle though, with Limerick winning their 14 league title, a third under John Kiely being added to their trophy cabinet.
Full Time: Kilkenny 0-15 Limerick 2-20