For the second time in three years, Limerick are All-Ireland u-21 hurling champions after a six-point victory over Kilkenny.
There were some great performances all over the field with Aaron Gillane, Robbie Hanley and Kyle Hayes all impressing in this 0-17 to 0-11 win.
Kilkenny, despite their best efforts, will freely admit they were beaten by a better team but will be content with their first Leinster crown at the grade in five years.
Can Limerick build on from today?
You don’t have to remind anyone down Shannonside that between 2000-02, Limerick won three All-Ireland u-21 titles in a row and had no senior success to show for it.
In fact, the Shannonsiders went from 2002-07 without winning a Munster SHC match.
However, this side has some top, top players and are fully aware of history – and will work tirelessly to ensure that the next few years are prosperous for Limerick.
They did it the hard way
Not many teams can boast such an impressive CV on winning an All-Ireland title. Wins over Tipperary, Clare, Cork and Galway before Saturday’s result is no mean feat.
For Pat Donnolly’s side, they beat all challengers and, in truth, were better than all opponents in each of their wins.
Hurling in Limerick continues to rise
Over the last five or six years, the Treaty have had a number of strong minor teams. These have transpired to the successful u-21 teams of 2015 and 2017.
On top of this, we have seen success from Ardscoil Ris and Limerick’s third level colleges winning championships in the last few years.
Even at club level, Na Piarsaigh won an All-Ireland title in 2016 – twelve months after Kilmallock lost the St Patrick’s Day decider.
Who will make the step-up to senior level?
A lot of the Limerick players on show are already involved in John Kiely’s senior set-up. The likes of Cian Lynch, Sean Finn, Peter Casey, Barry Nash and Kyle Hayes all impressed in the senior championship, but who else will join them?
Aaron Gillane was on the periphery of the senior set-up and there is no doubt that the Mary I and Patrickswell star will graduate to the senior set up when training resumes in the winter.
Then, you have the likes of Robbie Hanley, Dan Joy and Thomas Grimes could all see themselves on the verge of the senior set up in 2018.
Are Kilkenny in trouble?
2017 saw the Cats win a first Leinster title in five years. However, despite reaching the All-Ireland final, it is tough to argue that they are number two in Ireland.
Galway and Cork could legitimately claim to be the best of the rest, while Waterford will feel that they could have gone far had they not conceded a controversial late goal against the Rebels.
Since the Kilkenny senior team are losing some of their stars from the dominant teams of the early 2000s, many by the banks of the Nore will wonder if those players can be replaced.
There is potential in these Kilenny players, but they were beaten by a better team on Saturday.