Resilient Limerick edge Galway to book All Ireland final date with Kilkenny

Pat Donnelly’s charges backed up their pre match favourites tag as they emerged victorious courtesy of a strong finish on a scoreline of 2-23 to 2-19 at Semple Stadium this evening.

In front of 6,524 paying patrons, both sides served up what was an epic battle with the teams level on no less than ten occasions throughout the encounter. As Evan Niland equalised for Galway heading into the last minutes, it looked as if extra time would be needed to separate the sides.

Limerick however had other ideas and struck four unanswered points in the dying stages and additional time to see off a Galway side who were making their competition debut.

Na Piarsaigh’s Peter Casey was sharp from the off shooting two points from wide out on the right wing before netting the game’s first goal when Galway custodian Darragh Gilligan failed to deal with a Tom Morrissey shot.

The sliotar fell into the path of Casey who bundled the ball over the line from close range. It was far from a thing of beauty but it contributed to helped settle Limerick.

Galway notched early scores through Brian Concannon and Thomas Monaghan but also suffered some wayward shooting with wides tally of four. Following Casey’s goal Kevin McHugo and Barry Murphy swapped points as the intensity ratcheted up.

Galway then hit a purple patch with fine scores from Nevin, Monaghan and Linnane to level proceedings at 1-03 to 0-06 past the quarter hour. Patrickswell’s Aaron Gillane pointed from a placed ball before Concannon cancelled it out moments later.

Gillane and Grimes then edged Limerick back in the lead with further points from play and in keeping wit the tit for tat nature of proceedings Jack Coyne and Monaghan replied for Galway.

A Gillane 65 put two between the sides as the break beckoned but Galway senior star Conor Whelan pegged one back

well marshalled by the Limerick defence, managed to get through for a point and Nevin then got his second of the night to tie match. South Liberties Barry Nash then opened his account with Limerick’s last score before the break but a Whelan free saw the sides head in at the interval level at 1-9 to 0-12.

The half time team talk did the trick Limerick and came out re-energised in the second half establishing a five point lead inside the first six minutes courtesy of two points and a Barry Murphy goal.

It was Galway’s turn to respond and they did so with a scrappy Jack Coyne goal after a powerful run from Whelan split the Limerick defence. Whelan’s shot was saved and Conye was quickest to pounce in the ensuing scramble to find the net.

Whelan and Grealish points in quick succession again saw the sides level at 1-16 to 2-13 with seventeen minutes remaining in what was developing into a pulsating encounter.

The quality scores showed no sigh of stopping as Gillane and Monaghan exchanged potions before Gillane’s club mate Cian Lynch edged Limerick back into a one point lead.

Whelan then struck for the goal of the evening when his powerful shot found its way past McNamara in the Limerick goal. Pat Donnelly’s players will be disappointed in the manner in which they conceded the goal as they had several chances to clear their lines but somehow managed to cough up possession.

It was in the dying stages that the Limerick’s Munster final test against Cork stood them in good stead. They simply did not panic and stuck to their game plan with sub La Touche Cosgrave and Kyle Hayes quick cancelling out Whelan’s goal to level once again.

Conor Boylan and Monaghan exchanged points to level proceedings for the ninth time before Barry Nash and Evan Niland followed suit as the sides remained inseparable.

Limerick held their nerve and took control of the game as the closing minutes approached. Aaron Gillane slotted his seventh point of the evening to put Limerick back in front.

This was followed by excellent scores from Thomas Grimes and Robbie Hanley before Gillane sealed the win with a late free much to the joy of the travelling Limerick support.

Great credit must go to Pat Donnelly’s side who showed their class and composure when it counted the most. They refused to let the Galway goals derail their game plan and responded well to every set back.

Limerick: E McNamara; S Finn, D Fanning, D Joy; R Lynch, K Hayes (0-01), T Grimes (0-02); C Ryan, R Hanley (0-01); A Gillane (0-08, 0-04 frees, 0-02 ’65), B Murphy (1-02), C Lynch (0-01); P Casey (1-02), T Morrissey, B Nash (0-04).Subs: A La Touche Cosgrave (0-01) for C Lynch (30-31 mins, blood) & for Morrissey (44 mins), C Boylan (0-01) for Ryan (44 mins), J O’Grady for Finn (52 mins), S Flanagan for Murphy (59 mins), M Mackey for Nash (65 mins).

Galway: D Gilligan; D Cronin, C Cosgrove, I Fox; J Grealish (0-01), J Mooney, S Loftus (0-01, 0-01 free); K McHugo (0-01), D Nevin (0-02, 0-01 free); B Concannon (0-04), S Linnane (0-01), T Monaghan (0-04); C Whelan (1-03, 0-01 free), C Burke, J Coyne (1-01).Subs: C O’Connor for Fox (21 mins), E Niland (0-01, 0-01 free) for Burke (37 mins), G Loughnane for Concannon (42-43 mins, blood) & for Coyne (57 mins), F Burke for Mooney (52 mins), R Elwood for McHugo (58 mins).

Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)

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