All-Ireland Hurling semi-final: Kilkenny beat holders Limerick in classic

Limerick's Graeme Mulcahy is tackled by Kilkenny's Conor Browne and Paul Murphy
Kilkenny will face either Wexford or Tipperary in next month's final

Kilkenny reached the All-Ireland Hurling Final after beating holders Limerick 1-21 to 2-17 in a classic semi-final at Croke Park.

A Colin Fennelly goal helped the Cats lead 1-8 to 0-2 after 17 minutes with TJ Reid superb for Brian Cody's side.

But Aaron Gillane's penalty helped cut the margin to 1-12 to 1-9 by half-time.

Kilkenny moved five clear by the 60th minute but had to hold on frantically for victory after Shane Dowling netted for Limerick.

The Cats started off at a ferocious pace as they raced into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead before Gillane opened Limerick's account.

However, Kilkenny powered on to a 0-6 to 0-1 advantage before Fennelly's goal increased their lead to nine as he drilled to the net following a superb turn.

However, Gillane's scores began to chip away at Kilkenny's advantage before he himself won a penalty which he lashed passed Eoin Murphy as the Cats advantage was trimmed to three by half-time.

By the 44th minute, there was just one between the teams at 1-14 to 1-13 and that was still the margin by the 50th minute before points from Fennelly and Adrian Mullen helped stretch Kilkenny's lead to five with 10 minutes of normal time left.

Dowling's 63rd-minute goal - three minutes after his introduction - helped cut Kilkenny's advantage to one but Limerick were unable to get on terms in the closing stages as the Cats held their nerve.

There was a moment of late controversy as Limerick claimed that a line ball from Darragh O'Donovan adjudged a wide, had taken a deflection off Kilkenny's Cillian Buckley but the plea was rejected as their hopes of retaining the Liam McCarthy Cup were dashed.

Kilkenny, who have won a record 36 titles, will face the winner of Sunday's second semi-final between Tipperary and Wexford in next month's decider.

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