Limerick goal scorer Conor Boylan
LIMERICK continued their unbeaten start to the Allianz Hurling League with a first victory over Kilkenny in Nowlan Park in 22 years.
This round three Division 1A game finished Limerick 2-18 to 0-15 to see John Kiely's All-Ireland champions with one foot in the quarter finals ahead of the two remaining group games.
Limerick welcome Cork to the Gaelic Grounds next Sunday (2.30).
Two goals just before half time set the men in green on their way to a first Nowlan Park victory since 1997.
And it was a win that came with just nine of the All-Ireland final day team - full back Mike Casey, centre back Declan Hannon, midfielder Cian Lynch and full forward Seamus Flanagan among those missing.
Played in a heavy mist and in front of an attendance of 11,283 Limerick were 2-10 to 0-7 up at half time with a late flurry of scores ensuring the nine point interval lead.
It was a half when Limerick were backed by the strong breeze but the men in green didn't hit the front for the first time until the 26th minute.
On 29-minutes the game was level at 0-7 each - the fifth and final time the sides were level in the half.
Brian Cody's home side didn't score for the final nine minutes of action with an unanswered 2-3 from Limerick ensuring the half time advantage.
Limerick were a bit jittery in the opening minutes but points from Shane Dowling and Aaron Gillane left it 0-4 to 0-3 to the men in black and amber after 10-minutes.
Gillane added his second from play and a thundering effort from distance from Tom Condon tied up the contest at 0-5 each on 21-minutes. Condon was the only survivor in the Limerick starting line-up from the last Nowlan Park league visit in 2009.
Conor Boylan edged Limerick ahead and then came the late run of scores.
On his first league start Robbie Hanley started the scoring sequence.
But it was Na Piarsaigh half forward duo Dowling and Boylan that found the key first half goals - within a minute of eachother.
Both came in the 33rd minute - one from the left and one from the right of goal.
First up was Dowling - scoring from the left after he was put through by a Gillane handpass over the defence.
Kilkenny tried to work the resulting puckout short but Graeme Mulcahy and Boylan forced a turnover and Boylan crashed to the net.
Limerick were on a roll now and Gillane's third point from play sealed the interval lead.
On the resumption, Limerick were simply superb - finding another level in their work-rate and using the ball intelligently against the breeze.
Gillane had three early frees while two Barry Murphy points illustrated all that is good about this Limerick side.
The lead was soon 14-points - 2-16 to 0-8 and just 11-minutes gone in the new half.
The lead could have been greater but for a fine Eoin Murphy save to deny Dowling a goal 16-minutes into the half.
Richie Leahy from frees and from play hit back for Kilkenny and four in a row left it 2-17 to 0-12 with 10-minutes to play.
Shane Dowling had the Limerick point down the home stretch as they earned a well merited victory.
SCORERS: Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-9 (6frees), Shane Dowling 1-2, Conor Boylan 1-1, Barry Murphy 0-2, Tom Condon, Robbie Hanley, Diarmaid Byrnes (free), Graeme Mulcahy 0-1 each. Kilkenny: Richie Leahy 0-7 (4frees), Billy Ryan and Kevin Kelly (2frees) 0-2 each, James Maher, John Donnolly, Ger Malone and Liam Blanchfield 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Tom Condon, Sean Finn, Richie English; Diarmaid Byrnes, Dan Morrissey, Paddy O’Loughlin; Robbie Hanley, Darragh O’Donovan; Kyle Hayes, Shane Dowling, Conor Boylan; Aaron Gillane, Graeme Mulcahy, Barry Murphy. Subs: Tom Morrissey for Conor Boylan (55mins), Peter Casey for Barry Murphy (55mins), Pat Ryan for Graeme Mulcahy (61mins), Gearoid Hegarty for Robbie Hanley (68mins).
KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Tommy Walsh, Conor Delaney, Enda Morrissey; Padraig Walsh, Paddy Deegan, Paul Murphy; Conor Fogarty, Martin Keoghan; Richie Leahy, Walter Walsh, James Maher; Billy Ryan, Kevin Kelly, John Donnelly. Subs: Liam Blanchfield for Kevin Kelly (26mins), Conor Browne for Conor Fogarty (h-t), Michael Carey for Enda Morrissey (h-t), Ger Malone for James Maher (50mins).
REFEREE: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).