Limerick 1-27 v Galway 2-09
Limerick’s minor hurlers went where their seniors couldn’t when they beat Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park.
TJ Ryan's seniors lost their semi-final in heartbreaking fashion to Kilkenny last weekend.
But Brian Ryan’s underage team delivered a near-faultless display to make it through to the big day.
Limerick will now take on the Cats, who beat Waterford last Sunday, in the decider on Sunday, 7 September.
The Munster champions delivered a complete performance and were in control of this game from first whistle until the last.
Most of their second half scores came from frees, with Ronan Lynch keeping the scoreboard ticking over, as they took their foot slightly off the pedal.
This didn’t knock the gloss of the sort of display that will give them huge confidence facing into the final with Kilkenny next month.
Only the goals of wing-forward Conor Whelan kept Galway in it during the first half against a rampant and hugely impressive Limerick side.
He got the first after eight minutes, nipping in between Paddy O’Loughlin and Lorcan Lyons, and kicking to the net.
Five minutes before the break he struck again, this time ramming home from a tight angle.
Apart from that though, the Munster champions were well on top. Ronan Lynch, selected at midfield but starting in the forwards was the main man.
He was hauled down by Declan Cronin having burst through the defence, but Limerick made the breakthrough shortly after when Barry Nash rifled to the net.
This left them in a commanding position at the break, leading 1-17 to 2-5. By the start of the second half Galway manager Mattie Murphy had taken off his entire starting half-back line.
This illustrated the sort of trouble the team was in and they were struggling all over the field.
The Tribesmen kept plugging away during the second half, to their credit, though there was never any danger that they could overhaul their opponents.
Lynch top-scored with 13 points, including ten from play, and he formed part of a strong central Limerick spine. In the end they ran out winners by 15 point.
The full-back line recovered well from leaking two goals before the break and were water-tight in the second half.
Andrew La Touche Cosgrave anchored the defence at centre-back and Robbie Hanley was all business in the centre of the field.
Some of their play and point-taking was breathtaking, though if there was a criticism it was that they didn’t go flat out until the end.
In the final quarter, with the game won, their play got a little sloppy and the wide count began to rack up.
Galway needed more goals in the second half to remain competitive, but they never threatened Eoghan McNamara’s net. In fact, they were only able to add four points after the change of ends.
The Tribesmen are almost always contenders at the minor grade, but yesterday they found themselves well out of their depth.
Limerick: E McNamara, S Finn, P O’Loughlin, J Porter, C Ryan, A La Touche Cosgrave, C Byrnes, R Hanley (0-01), R Lynch (0-13, 10f), S Flanagan (0-02), B Nash (1-03), C Lynch (0-01), P Casey (0-02), T Morrissey (0-03), C Fitzgerald (0-01).
Subs: C Grimes for Byrnes, B Murphy (0-01) for Fitzgerald, J Porter for Hayes, E Doyle for Casey, D Fanning for Ryan.
Galway: G Loughane, D Cronin, O Coyle, S Roche, R Doyle, J Holland, R Bellew, D Nevin (0-02), K McHugo, C Whelan (2-00), D Mangan, S Linnane, J Grealish (0-02), B Burke (0-04, 3f), C Shaughnessy (0-01).
Subs: C O’Reilly for Holland, S Loftus for Doyle 26, J McNamara for Bellew, J Mannion for McHugo, C Burke for Roche.
Referee: C Lyons (Cork)