All-Ireland SHC Final: Limerick resist Galway fight-back to win by 3-16 to 2-18
|All-Ireland SHC final: Limerick 3-16 Galway 2-18|
|Limerick scorers: G Mulcahy 1-2, K Hayes 0-4, T Morrissey 1-1, S Dowling 1-0, A Gillane 0-3, D Hannon 0-2, D Byrnes 0-1, C Lynch 0-1, D O'Donovan 0-1, S Flanagan 0-1|
|Galway scorers: J Canning 1-10, D Burke 0-3, J Cooney 0-3, C Whelan 1-0, P Mannion 0-1, N Burke 0-1|
Limerick ended a 45-year wait to regain the Liam McCarthy Cup as they held-off a rousing Galway fight-back to score a dramatic one-point win at Croke Park.
John Kiely's young side held their nerve to clinch a 3-16 to 2-18 victory.
Goals by Graeme Mulcahy, Tom Morrissey and Shane Dowling appeared to have given Limerick an insurmountable lead.
But the Treatymen had to hold firm during eight minutes of injury time as Conor Whelan and Joe Canning both goaled to set up a nerve-shredding end.
Canning, who finished with 1-10, had a last-gasp free to level the match but his long-range effort fell agonisingly short and the Limerick defence smuggled the ball away to spark wild celebrations as they emulated their heroes of 1973.
Mulcahy's goal lays the platform
The build-up to the game had focused on Galway's greater experience as the Tribesmen went in search of back-to-back All-Ireland wins but it was Limerick that looked more composed during the opening exchanges as they dismantled their opponents' short puck-out strategy.
James Skehill's restarts were persistently disrupted by the hard-working Limerick forwards, who were rewarded with the opening three points of the game.
The holders responded well as team leaders Canning, David Burke and Joseph Cooney all combined to push them ahead before Mulcahy's goal gave the Treatymen a lead that they would not relinquish again.
The ball came loose in Galway territory through Seamus Flanagan's thundering hit on Padraig Mannion and Kyle Hayes flashed the ball in to Mulcahy who eventually managed to scramble the ball across the line at the third attempt.
The Tribesmen were shell-shocked and managed to score just once in the next 20 minutes as Limerick threatened to pull away with all of their scores coming from play in the opening half hour.
A flurry of points just before the break kept Galway hopes alive as they trailed by 1-10 to 0-9 despite being out played.
Turnovers prove crucial
Micheal Donoghue's Galway side needed a fast start to the second-half but they once-again found the dashing young Limerick forwards too much of a handful.
The electric Hayes, just 20-years-old, scored two quick points to help his side into an eight-point lead as the final 20 minutes approached.
Canning stepped forward to land two crucial scores to keep Galway in contention but the Limerick forwards showed their ability to create scores with some ferocious tackling that led to a further two goals.
Morrissey showed admirable determination to steal possession from Gearoid McInerney and the wing-forward then kept his composure to evade the scrambling defenders and bat the sliotar, one-handed, into the net.
Once-again Galway responded through Canning and David Burke to get the gap down to five points before Limerick substitute Peter Casey brilliantly blocked an attempted clearance and worked the ball to Dowling to score.
Although they were eight points adrift, Galway refused to surrender their title without a fight as they drove at the Limerick full-back line.
Whelan pounced on a loose ball to lash a powerful shot into the net before Treaty goalkeeper Nickie Quaid was penalised for handling the ball on the ground and Canning lashed the resulting free into the top corner.
Niall Burke's point further reduced the gap to the bare minimum before Mulcahy and Canning traded scores but the Galway talisman could not convert one final chance from inside his own half in the dying seconds as Limerick managed to stumble across the finish line.
Galway: J Skehill; A Tuohey, D Burke, J Hanbury; P Mannion, G McInerney, A Harte; J Coen, D Burke; J Cooney, J Canning, J Glynn; C Whelan, C Cooney, C Mannion
Replacements: F Flannery, P Killeen, S Loftus, S Linnane, R Burke, S Cooney, N Burke, T Monaghan, E Burke, J Flynn, B Glennon
Limerick: N Quaid; S Finn, M Casey, R English; D Byrnes, D Hannon, D Morrissey; D O'Donovan, C Lynch; G Hegarty, K Hayes, T Morrissey; A Gillane, S Flanagan, G Mulcahy
Replacements: B Hennessy, P Casey, T Condon, S Dowling, K Downes, S Hickey, R McCarthy, B Nash, W O'Donoghue, D Reidy, P Ryan