Limerick are the All-Ireland champions for 2018 after coming out on top of a thrilling final against Galway on a 3-18 to 2-16 at Croke Park.
Goals from Graeme Mulcahy, Tom Morrissey and Shane Dowling proved decisive as Limerick held out after a late Galway onslaught.
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Both sides made a nervy start to the contest with a wide each inside the first minute. Limerick sent over two more before Aaron Gillane opened the scoring from play.
Limerick built on that lead with a Kyle Hayes point that was followed up by a Graeme Mulcahy effort that put John Kiely’s side 0-3 to 0-0 ahead after five minutes.
Galway eventually settled with a Joe Canning ’65 that got them on the board but a fine Cian Lynch strike put Limerick back into a three point lead.
Padraic Mannion and Darragh O’Donovan then traded points but two Canning frees and a Joseph Cooney put the Tribesmen one ahead.
However, Limerick were soon back ahead when Mulcahy scrambled a goal to the net after a defence splitting run. That put Limerick 1-5 to 0-6 up after 17 minutes.
Two sublime Declan Hannon efforts either side of a Tom Morrissey point put Limerick’s advantage up to five but Galway hit back through David Burke, Canning and Joseph Cooney to cut that lead to two in the lead up to half time.
Limerick finished the opening 35 minutes strongly with a Gillane free and a sensational Seamus Flanagan effort from play to go in at the break 1-10 to 0-9 to the good.
The performance continued into the second half with three points from Hayes with Galway’s reply coming from Conor Cooney.
Limerick continued to up the pace with a Gillane free from the sideline before Tom Morrissey buried the Shannonsiders’ second goal.
The Ahane clubman dispossessed Gearóid McInerney and took off, beating a couple of Galway defenders and firing past James Skehill and put Limerick into a 2-15 to 0-13 lead.
Canning then led the Galway comeback but Limerick hit with another goal when Na Piarsaigh’s Peter Casey and Shane Dowling combined and the latter finished into the corner to make the score 3-15 to 0-16 in Limerick’s favour.
However, there was still a kick in the 2017 All-Ireland champions as goals from Conor Whelan and Joe Canning threatened to break Limerick’s hearts but it was not to be and Kiely’s heroes ended a 45-year wait for the Liam MacCarthy to come back to the Treaty County.
Scorers – Limerick: Graeme Mulcahy 1-2, Tom Morrissey 1-1, Kyle Hayes 0-4, Shane Dowling 1-0, Aaron Gillane 0-3 (2fs), Declan Hannon 0-2, Cian Lynch, Darragh O’Donovan, Seamus Flanagan and Diarmaid Byrnes 0-1 each.
Scorers – Galway: Joe Canning 1-10 (1-5fs, 2 ’65s), Conor Whelan 1-0, David Burke and Joseph Cooney 0-3 each, Padraic Mannion and Niall Burke 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Richie English; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey; Darragh O’Donovan, Cian Lynch; Gearóid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Graeme Mulcahy.
Subs: Richie McCarthy for M Casey (50 mins, inj), Shane Dowling for Hegarty (56 mins), Peter Casey for Flanagan (64 mins), Will O’Donoghue for O’Donovan (67 mins), Tom Condon for English (72 mins),
GALWAY: James Skehill; Adrian Tuohy, Daithí Burke, John Hanbury; Padraic Mannion, Gearóid McInerney, Aidan Harte; Johnny Coen, David Burke; Joseph Cooney, Joe Canning, Cathal Mannion; Conor Whelan, Jonathan Glynn, Conor Cooney.
Subs: Niall Burke for C Mannion (46 mins), Paul Killeen for Hanbury (57 mins), Jason Flynn for C Cooney (59 mins), Sean Loftus for Coen (60 mins), Fergal Flannery for Skehill (61 mins).
Referee: James Owens (Wexford)