Limerick's Paddy O'Loughlin battles for possession with Kerry's Colin Walsh in the Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling Cup semi-final at the TUS Gaelic Grounds Pic: Brendan Gleeson
AN EMPHATIC victory for the Limerick senior hurlers to start 2022 with a big 30-point margin to spare over Kerry in the Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling Cup.
In the TUS Gaelic Grounds it finished Limerick 4-29 Kerry 0-11.
The win sets up a final against Clare next weekend in the early season provincial competition.
Lining out with just captain for the day Barry Nash from their All-Ireland final starting team, it took Limerick just nine seconds to open their account through Cathal O'Neill and they never looked back.
Shane Nolan did level the tie in response but then came seven successive scores for Limerick to ease clear in a period when Mark Quinlan was forced off injured and Paddy O'Loughlin was introduced to mark his return after a year out.
O'Neill, Oisin O'Reilly and David Reidy all had points before Pat Ryan goaled in the 13th minute.
It was a fine goal - started in the full back line and when midfielder Brian O'Grady played possession in front of Ryan, who turned to find the net and secure a 1-5 to 0-1 lead.
By the first half water break Limerick were 1-8 to 0-2 ahead in front of a sold out crowd of 5,000, which was reduced due to current Covid-19 restrictions.
Pat Ryan almost had a second goal on the restart but goalkeeper Martin Stackpoole saved.
Cathal O'Neill also had a glimpse of goal but crashed over the bar for one of his tally of four first half points.
When Colin Coughlan and Brian O'Grady got on the scoresheet, it was a 1-14 to 0-4 lead for Limerick and 27-minutes played.
Limerick native Paudie Ahern had a Kerry point in the 28th minute but the home side finished on top with Coughlan, Ryan and Reidy all with scores for a 15-point half time lead.
Limerick opened the new half with three successive points - two for midfielder O'Grady.
Eoin Ross had a Kerry point but then on seven minutes came the second Limerick goal when David Reidy caught all off guard when drilling a 21-metre free low to the net for a 2-21 to 0-7 advantage.
Reidy added two scores from play before debutante Adam English soloed forward to crash home a smashing goal just before the second half water break - Limerick 3-24 Kerry 0-8.
In the final quarter, Limerick eased to the win with a second Pat Ryan goal coming five minutes from full time.
SCORERS: Limerick: David Reidy 1-14 (1-9frees, 1 '65), Pat Ryan 2-3, Adam English 1-1, Cathal O'Neill 0-4, Brian O'Grady 0-3, Colin Coughlan 0-2, Oisin O'Reilly and Paddy O'Loughlin 0-1 each. Kerry: Shane Conway (2frees), Gavin Dooley and Colum Harty 0-2 each, Shane Nolan, Paudie Ahern, Fionnan MacKessy, Eoin Ross and Michael Leane 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: David McCarthy (Glenroe); Barry Nash (South Liberties), Jerome Boylan (Na Piarsaigh), Richie English (Doon); Colin Coughlan (Ballybrown), Ronan Connolly (Adare), Mark Quinlan (Garryspillane); Rory Duff (Mungret St Pauls), Brian O'Grady (Kilteely-Dromkeen); Cathal O'Neill (Crecora-Manister), David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca), Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh); Darren O’Connell (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), Pat Ryan (Doon), Oisin O'Reilly (Kilmallock). Subs: Paddy O'Loughlin (Kilmallock) for Mark Quinlan, inj (8mins), Adam English (Doon) for Oisin O'Reilly (h-t), William O'Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh) for Brian O'Grady (52mins), Patrick O'Donovan (Effin) for Darren O'Connell (52mins).
KERRY: Martin Stackpoole; Sean Weir, Fionan MacKessy, Eric Leen; Eoin Ross, Conor O’Keeffe, Colin Walsh; Michael Leane, Gavin Dooley; Michael O'Leary, Paudie Ahern, Colum Harty; Mark Heffernan, Shane Conway, Shane Nolan. Subs: James Sheehan for Mark Heffernan (51mins), Darragh Slattery for Eoin Ross (55mins), Brian Lonergan for Michael O'Leary (57mins), Sean Sheehan for Sean Weir (60mins), Cathal Dunne for Colin Walsh (65mins).
REFEREE: Niall Malone (Clare).
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.