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Limerick Dethrone Galway To Win First Liam MacCarthy Cup In 45 Years

Galway 2-18 Limerick 3-16

Limerick dethroned All Ireland champions, Galway in superb fashion to claim the Liam MacCarthy Cup for the first time in 45 years. 

Despite all the talk about how their young players would cope on “the big day”, it was Limerick who showed their intent from the start in front of a packed Croke Park while Galway, tired from the long season, failed to find the form that got them to this stage.

In terms of their work rate, the Limerick forwards showed that they were just as up for this game as their passionate supporters. Under the high ball they were immense, Aaron Gillane and Kyle Hayes in particular.

©INPHO/James Crombie

Hayes intercepted a wayward pass from Adrian Tuohey and finished superbly. The tactic of leaving Gillane isolated inside was working wonders with his aerial strength but their poor shooting meant that they could not get a foothold in the game.

Joe Canning opened Galway’s scoring in the sixth minute with a 65′ and added two frees within minutes. Padraic Mannion showed why he is the frontrunner for Hurler of the Year with an immense point from within his one half and Galway crept ahead. But momentum is as easy lost as it is gained and when Hayes sent a pass to Graeme Mulchay, the Kilmallock man had only one thing on his mind as he fought and stumbled past the Galway defenders to trickle the ball to the back of the net.

Though Limerick’s pack mentality continued to win them possession in midfield, their shooting continued to be wayward as Gillane hit their 10th wide after 28 minutes. From the puck-out, the outstanding Declan Hannon powered pass Canning and hit his second point. It was end-to-end stuff as Galway’s captain, David Burke replicated the move seconds later.

With the crowd in thundering voice and tensions rising on the pitch, Limerick’s ill-discipline allowed Canning to reduce the gap to three as the game ticked towards half-time. Seamus Flanagan made another trademark run on goal and was fouled, allowing Gillane to knock over a free before Flanagan added one of his own to leave Limerick ahead by four at the break.

©INPHO/Bryan Keane

It was the same story at the start of the second half. Early wides for both sides before Limerick thundered ahead. Diarmuid Byrnes punished a terrible clearance from Joseph Cooney before the teenager, Hayes scored three superb points in a row and Limerick’s lead was extended to seven. Galway looked far from the composed team that captured Liam McCarthy this time last year as a lack of communication between players left the looking unsure and rattled.

©INPHO/Bryan Keane

The Treaty were dealt a huge blow when Mike Casey, who was having an outstanding game against Johnny Glynn, limped off the field with a knee injury after 50 minutes. Two points in quick succession from Canning reduced the gap as the Galway forwards began to find their rhythm but their defence remained in turmoil. An attempted clearance from Daithi Burke found its way to Tom Morrissey who blasted past James Skehill.

With the Galway heads down, Limerick introduced their key weapon, Shane Dowling.

Just as he did in 2012 against Kilkenny, Joe Canning stood up with some wonderful scores to bring Galway back into contention, reducing the gap to just five points. As Galway clawed their way back into the game, Limerick continued to hit poor wides. But one again, super-sub Dowling came to the rescue as he rattled the net.

A desperate Galway started to launch balls into their full-forward line and it paid dividends when Conor Whelan netted as the game ticked into eight minutes of additional time.

Just three minutes later, Canning blasted a free past Quaid and the Limerick defence and when substitute, Niall Burke added a point, there was one point in it. Limerick’s stalwart, Mulcahy extended their lead to two points but it was short lived as the unflappable Canning pointed a 65′ but it wasn’t to be as a deserving Limerick lifted the Liam McCarthy Cup.

Photo By Daire Brennan/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Galway: James Skehill; Adrian Touhey, Daithi Burke, John Hanbury; Padraic Mannion (0-1), Gearoid McInerney, Aidan Harte; Johnny Coen, David Burke (0-3); Joseph Cooney (0-3), Joe Canning (1-9, 6f, 1 65′), Jonathan Glynn; Conor Whelan (1-0), Conor Cooney, Cathal Mannion.

Substitution: Niall Burke (0-1) for C Mannion (45) Paul Killeen for Hanbury (56) Jason Flynn for C Cooney (58) Sean Loftus for Coen (59) Fergal Flannery for Skehill (60)

Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Seán Finn, Michael Casey, Richie English; Diarmuid Byrnes (0-1), Declan Hannon (0-2), Dan Morrissey; Darragh O’Donovan (0-1), Cian Lynch (0-1), Gearóid Hegarty; Kyle Hayes (0-4), Tom Morrissey (1-1); Aaron Gillane (0-3,2f), Seamus Flanagan (0-1), Graeme Mulcahy (1-2).

Substitution: Richie McCarthy for Casey (50) Shane Dowling (1-0) for Hegarty (55) Peter Casey for Flanagan (63) William O’Donoghue for O’Donovan (66) Tom Condon for English (72)

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Author: Marisa Kennedy

Marisa is a Digital Journalist with Pundit Arena. You can contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter