Limerick’s wait for their first Munster SFC title in 108 years continues as 78 tension-filled minutes saw them draw 1-10 apiece with champions Kerry at the Gaelic Grounds.
Referee Gerry Kinneavy was given a Garda escort from the field after Kerry substitute Johnny Crowley looked to have been fouled in the dying seconds, but neither side deserved to lose, particularly the underdogs Limerick, after a dogged battle saw them lose an early five-point lead.
Mike Frank Russell led the Kerry revival with four vital frees, including the final point of the match on 63 minutes, as Jack O’Connor’s men came back having been stung by Stephen Lavin’s 25th minute goal.
Amazingly Russell was the only Kerry scorer inside the first half hour. He ghosted onto Colm Cooper’s hand pass to drill to the Limerick net on 10 minutes.
Conor Mullane and Eoin Keating had earlier given Limerick the lead and though Russell quickly tagged on a free to his goal, two Muiris Gavin frees and a well-judged Conor Fitzgerald point had Liam Kearns’ side back in front.
Gavin notched a third soon after and glaring Kerry misses were punished when Lavin collected John Galvin’s hand pass to slide home past Diarmuid Murphy for a 1-06 to 1-01 score line.
Despite Limerick’s early dominance in the midfield, Kerry rallied well to reduce the deficit back to just three points by the break with Cooper, Russell and skipper O'Cinneide on target.
O'Cinneide moved Kerry within two after the restart, but Fitzgerald replied on 44 minutes, eluding Marc O'Se to strike his second. Then Eoin Brosnan ended a fine 60-metre run with a right-footed score and with twenty minutes remaining it was back to a two-point game, with Limerick hitting their third and fourth wides.
The tie swung towards the Kingdom on 54 minutes when Limerick’s chief point-supplier Gavin sidelined through injury and O'Cinneide plundered a third free. Keating answered back with a second free of his own. As it went tit-for-tat Cooper pointed and with Darragh O'Se’s increasing influence, Russell levelled on the hour from a free garnered by substitute Johnny Crowley.
Russell hit his fourth free with six minutes remaining, cancelling out a Jason Stokes effort, to square it up again. Keating saw three late long-range free attempts fail to find the mark and Limerick were agonisingly short of a famous win.