DESPITE a lion-hearted display of hurling, Limerick added another unwanted statistic to the history books on Sunday afternoon after failing to secure a win over Leinster kingpins Kilkenny in Croke Park.
Not since the All-Ireland final of 1973 have Limerick had the better of the Cats in the championship but even a Herculean effort over the 70 minutes on Sunday, couldn’t see them get the upper hand on the giants.
The final whistle was met with scenes of bitter disappointment as players fell to their feet after investing every ounce of sweat in a bid to reach their first All-Ireland final since 2007.
“We are extremely disappointed. I’ve come from an exceptionally disappointed dressing room - extremely disappointed,” said manager TJ Ryan after his side lost by two points with the scoreboard reading 2-13 to 17 points at full-time.
“From our point of view, I thought we weathered the storm exceptionally well in the second half.”
The Garryspillane man said he couldn’t ask any more of his team following what he described as “an incredible performance”.
“We had huge performers all over the pitch. The bottom line is we lost and that’s the biggest pain of all.”
Sean Bennis of Dooradoyle whose brothers Richie and Phil played in the 1973 final said the Kilkenny goals, yet again, proved decisive.
“I think the two goals came against the run of play, I’m not taking from them - good goals but they came against the run of play,” said Sean who resides in Dooradoyle.
“I have to admire everyone - including the ref. Our backroom lads made great moves. I would think maybe Hannon should have been left where he played a great game the last day, but that’s not a criticism, that’s just in hindsight,” he added.
His daughter Callista Bennis from Dooradolyle felt the players “gave it everything”.
“We are so proud of them. They (Kilkenny) got the goals, ours were blocked. It was the puck of a ball in the end.”
Despite the atrocious weather conditions which saw Biblical-like rainfall at times, Limerick supporters were in full voice throughout and well outnumbered the Kilkenny supporters.
Treasa Ryan who made the trip from Oola said the team “did themselves very proud but they should definitely have won.”