The series continues as we look back on a memorable 2018 All-Ireland semi-final as Limerick overturned a deficit late on to return to finals day.
With John Kiely reaching 30 championship games in charge of Limerick, it seems fitting to reflect on some of the best that the Shannonsiders have produced under the Galbally native.
Those 30 games have yielded 22 wins at a 73% strike rate. That has also equated to three All-Ireland titles in four years as well as four successive Munster titles.
Limerick completed the four in a row in the province this year which books Limerick’s place in the All-Ireland semi-finals for a fifth successive season.
The defending champions return to action on 3 July and with a four week break, we look back on some of Limerick’s best days under Kiely.
Already we have looked at some of Kiely’s best games in charge and some notable omissions.
#10, #9, #8, #7,
But today it’s that epic 2018 All-Ireland semi-final as Limerick ended an eleven year wait for a final spot with an extra-time win over Cork.
Limerick 3-32 : 2-31 Cork
29 July 2018 | Semi-Final in Croke Park
A record breaking encounter that concluded an epic weekend of semi-final action saw Limerick outlast Cork in Croke Park in an instant classic.
From Limerick’s comeback, Quaid’s flick, Dowling’s penalty or Ryan’s goal, it is hard to remember a game with so many talking points but the main one from Kiely and co was Limerick’s return to the All-Ireland final for the first time since 2007 which looked out of reach with five minutes of normal time to play.
But Kiely’s side, as they did against Kilkenny, came back from the brink, securing extra-time where they found the net twice to set up a date with Galway.
Back in Croke Park for the first time since 2014, just three of the Limerick side remained from that game with the majority playing their maiden senior game in Croke Park.
And paired with Cork, many were expecting another titanic battle following the epic they played out in Munster two months previously where there was nothing to separate the sides.
The game got off to a flyer as Darragh Fitzgibbon raced through the defence where he was pulled down with Patrick Horgan making no mistake from the free.
Darragh O’Donovan equalised with a lovely effort as Gearoid Hegarty and Seamus Harnedy exchanged scores.
Fitzgibbon had Cork ahead before Aaron Gillane got in on the act to push Limerick two ahead.
Yet, it could have been more had Gillane his shooting boots on with the Patrickswell man kicking over when bearing down on goals for a 0-6 to 0-4 lead after ten.
Seamus Flanagan responded to a Cork score with a well taken effort but Daniel Kearney levelled up on 18 minutes with Mark Coleman putting them in front shortly after with a monster effort.
Christopher Joyce made it a two point game but a quickfire Graeme Mulcahy had Limerick all square.
Horgan briefly restored the lead but Mulcahy was equal to the task.
Efforts from Shane Kingston and a Coleman sideline helped Cork into a two point lead approaching the half time whistle.
But Cian Lynch had the final say of the half, firing to the roof of the net after being set through by Flanagan.
1-12 to 0-14 in Limerick’s favour at the interval.
The sides were level three more times to start the second half before Fitzgibbon and Horgan had Cork two ahead on 43.
Mulcahy stemmed the tide but Cork were finding their scores easier to come by moving three clear with twenty to play.
Gillane momentarily halted the Cork crusade before Conor Lehane unleashed a rasper past Nickie Quaid to make it a five point margin.
Lehan made it six before Shane Dowling made an instant impact from the bench, firing over a long range free.
The Na Piarsaigh man brought Limerick within two but an error in attack allowed Fitzgibbon to solo the length of the field and make it a six point deficit once more with as many minutes to play.
But Kiely’s youthful side showed no signs of panic as a brilliant Kyle Hayes effort was sandwiched between frees from Gillane.
The free taker added another as Dowling made it a one point game. Gillane levelled as the first minute of extra time was played.
Up the other end, Nickie Quaid made a save for the ages with an otherworldly stop of Harnedy as Limerick escaped up the field, winning a free to go ahead.
Gillane made no mistake but from the puckout, Lehane was fouled as Horgan sent us to extra-time.
Horgan kicked off the scoring in ET but a point from Gillane and a Dowling double had Limerick two clear before Horgan made it a one point game at the turn of ends.
Dowling continued his unbelievable impact from the bench, being dragged down with seven to play before firing the penalty into the top bins to make it a four point game.
Minutes later, Pat Ryan followed suit with a delightful chip that sealed Limerick’s passage to the All-Ireland final.
Substitutes Barry Nash and David Reidy kept the scoreboard ticking over as Horgan had a late consolation goal.
But the day belonged to Limerick as ‘Linger’ by the Cranberries played around Croke Park with attention slowly turning to the upcoming All-Ireland final.
Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-13 (7f), Shane Dowling 1-4 (1f), Graeme Mulcahy 0-4, Cian Lynch 1-1, Gearoid Hegarty 0-3, Pat Ryan 1-0, Darragh O’Donovan, Diarmaid Byrnes (1f), Seaamus Flanagan , Tom Morrissey, Kyle Hayes, Barry Nash, David Reidy all 0-1.
Scorers for Cork : Gls: P Horgan 1 (1f), C Lehane 1
Pts: P Horgan 1-11 (1-9f), Conor Lehane 1-3, Darragh Fitzgibbon 0-4, Daniel Kearney, Shane Kingston 0-3 each, Seamus Harnedy, Mark Coleman (1s/l) both 0-2, Christopher Joyce, Luke Meade, Jack O’Connor 0-1
Limerick : Nickie Quaid, Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Richie English, Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey, Darragh O’Donovan, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey, Kyle Hayes, Gearóid Hegarty, Aaron Gillane, Séamus Flanagan, Graeme Mulcahy
Subs : Peter Casey for Tom Morrissey (51), Shane Dowling for Flanagan (56), Pat Ryan for Mulcahy (63), William O’Donoghue for O’Donovan (71) Seamus Hickey for Byrnes (77), Barry Nash for Gillane (84)
Cork : Anthony Nash, Sean O’Donoghue, Damien Cahalane, Colm Spillane, Eoin Cadogan, Christopher Joyce, Mark Coleman, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Bill Cooper, Seamus Harnedy, Shane Kingston, Daniel Kearney, Luke Meade, Patrick Horga, Conor Lehane
Subs : Robbie O’Flynn for Kingston (55), Mark Ellis for Kearney (60), Tim O’Mahony for Meade (64), Michael Cahalane for Cadogan (71), Kearney for Cahalane, Cahalane for Harnedy (76), Kingston for Fitzgibbon (78), Jack O’Connor for Kearney (85)
Referee : Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)