Celebration time: Limerick crowned 2017 Munster U-21 hurling champions
JUST once in the last 12 championships has there been a five game run to the All Ireland U-21 hurling championship title.
That’s the journey that Limerick continue along this Saturday (6.00) when Galway are their All Ireland U-21 hurling semi final opponents.
Limerick’s run of wins over Cork, Clare and Tipperary has seen Pat Donnelly, Maurice O’Brien, Mikey Kiely and Brian Foley use 23 different players, from 13 different clubs.
Twelve of the 23 players hold All Ireland U-21 medals from 2015, while a further trio were elevated straight from last year’s minors.
As Limerick bid to emulate the Clare five game winning run of 2014, they step outside of the Gaelic Grounds for the first time on Saturday with all roads leading to Semple Stadium in Thurles.
Munster quarter final
Limerick 2-24 Tipperary 0-19
Thursday June 22 in the Gaelic Grounds
Limerick were 2-12 to 0-8 up after playing with the gentle breeze in the opening half.
With 10 All Ireland U-21 medal holders from 2015 in the starting team, Limerick put their experience to good use in the early minutes to lead 1-4 to no score inside 10-minutes. The first goal came in the fifth minute when captain Tom Morrissey bundled over the line.
In the 16th minute came the second goal – Barry Nash shrugging off a challenge to turn and head for goal before finishing confidently, in front of 3,076.
On the change of ends, Tipperary scored five of the opening six points.
The Limerick answer came in the shape of six unanswered points to run out 11-point winners.
Munster semi final
Limerick 1-28 Clare 1-15
Wednesday July 12 in the Gaelic Grounds
Eight points from play from Aaron Gillane inspired Limerick to this 13-point win
Limerick played with the aid of the breeze and were 1-14 to 1-5 ahead at half time in front of 5,577.
Limerick were the hottest of 1/10 favourites but by the 10th minute they already looked every bit those odds with a 1-7 to 0-2 lead.
The goal came in the fifth minute from Peter Casey to move Limerick 1-5 to 0-2 clear and by the interval the lead was nine points.
Clare hit five early unanswered points to reduce the lead down to 1-15 to 1-10 in the second half.
But the Limerick response was impressive and by the end Limerick had 11 scorers.
Limerick 0-16 Cork 1-11
Wednesday July 26 in the Gaelic Grounds
A pitch invasion marked Limerick’s eighth Munster U-21 hurling title.
In a 19th final appearance, Limerick had some nervy second half moments – they led by seven points at one stage only to see it reduced to two with five minutes to play.
Playing with the aid of the breeze in the opening half, Limerick brought a 0-11 to 1-4 lead into half time in front of 11,774 of a crowd.
The hot 2/9 favourites were 0-7 to no score clear after 14-minutes demonstrating all their experience with five players starting in their second Munster U-21 final in three years.
The free-flowing first half was replaced with a scrappy second period, in which Limerick scored only once from play through Barry Nash.