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Talking Points As Cats Survive Late Scare To Down All Ireland Champions

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Kilkenny 1-21 Limerick 2-17

Reporting by Marisa Kennedy in Croke Park

A blistering start secured a place in the All Ireland final for Kilkenny after a one-point win over Limerick in Croke Park this evening.

The Cats roared into a nine-point lead aided by a Colin Fennelly goal and while Limerick brought it back to a one-point game, crucially, they never found the levelling score despite a late goal from Shane Dowling.

Read our immediate conclusions below.


Limerick struggle to reach championship pace: Four weeks is a big gap between games in the current structure and it certainly appeared to affect Limerick’s performance. Incredibly, Brian Cody’s side found themselves with a 1-8 to 0-2 lead after 16 minutes against the All Ireland champions who were slow, sluggish and off-form for the majority of the first half. Passes didn’t go to hand, five efforts sailed wide within 20 minutes and their renowned work rate was well below-par.


Kilkenny suffocate Quaid’s puckouts: Kilkenny won the majority of Limerick’s puckout during the first period, whether it was from clean possession or breaking ball. The Cats pushed up on Quaid’s puckouts, forcing him to go long where their dominant half-back line of Conor Fogarty, Padraig Walsh and Paddy Deegan were waiting patiently to collect.


Crucial penalty at key time: Aaron Gillane did superb work with the little supply of ball he received from his teammates. The Patrickswell man scored five points in the first half, two from play, but his most valuable contribution came when Diarmuid Byrnes delivered a long ball into the square which Gillane won. Huw Lawlor was judged to have held the sharpshooter back which resulted in a penalty which Gillane buried in the 35th minute to leave just two between the sides. Limerick were clearly desperate to score next, however, after a battle for possession, Richie Hogan pointed to leave three between the sides at half-time.


Sean Finn: Sean Finn was one of Limerick’s most impressive performers throughout the game as he again proved he is the most in-form man-marker in the country. The Bruff man began the game on Colin Fennelly but was forced to play a sweeping role across the full-back line to avoid further damage. There was little he could do when he found himself isolated with the Ballyhale Shamrocks’ man for the goal while he made the crucial decision to cynically foul to avoid a second in the 17th minute, earning himself a yellow.


TJ Reid punishes Limerick ill-discipline: Unusally, despite their dominance during the early stages of the game, Kilkenny and Limerick found themselves on level ground when it came to scores from play at half-time at six scores each. Kilkenny went 14 minutes of the first half without a score from play. Reid was deadly accurate from placed balls as he converted six frees throughout the game. On another note, Treaty fans in Croke Park were not happy with how the game was refereed by Alan Kelly who made a number of questionable decisions in Kilkenny’s favour.


Kiely’s use of substitutions: There’s no question that Limerick have one of the strongest benches in the country but Kiely’s use of his replacements was baffling at times. The replacements that were brought on, Barry Nash, Shane Dowling and David Reidy almost stole the game. Yet one has to wonder why more substitutes weren’t introduced when players like Dan Morrissey, Cian Lynch, Kyle Hayes and Gearoid Hegarty were out of sorts. He introduced the goalscorer Dowling in the 55th minute and Darragh O’Donovan replaced William O’Donoghue minutes later when the Na Piarsaigh man was arguably Limerick’s best player on the field while the industrious Tom Morrissey was also withdrawn.


Brian Cody masterclass: Every time it seems as though the Kilkenny era has come to an end, they turn around and surprise us all. They are deservedly through to their first All Ireland final since 2016 after a phenomenal performance in which they outclassed, out-worked and out-thought the All Ireland champions. They forced Limerick to play a narrow game, dragged players out of position while their forwards such as Adrian Mullen and Colin Fennelly were outstanding.


Limerick wide count: Limerick were given ample opportunities to level the game but poor decisions and their wide count ultimately cost them the game. Kiely’s men registered 14 wides throughout the game in an area which has haunted them all year. Ironically, Diarmuid Byrnes found himself standing over a long-range free in the 70th minute with just one point between the sides. Instead of dropping it in or hitting it over the bar, the ball sailed wide. In the final seconds, Darragh O’Donovan sent a sideline cut wide which summed up Limerick’s entire performance.

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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