Limerick 0-26 Wexford 1-07

John Kiely’s Limerick romped to Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland under-21 hurling glory in Thurles on Saturday night.

The rampant Shannonsiders collected the Cross of Cashel trophy, in commission for the last time, with a massive 16-point victory over Wexford.

The Slaneysiders, chasing a first All-Ireland Under-21 title since 1965, were obliterated by Kiely’s Munster champions in a one-sided encounter played out in front of 18,544 spectators.

For Kiely, this was a sweet one as he was a member of the Limerick senior panel when the Treaty men lost the 1996 All-Ireland senior final to Wexford.

Limerick’s big names were on fire this evening, including senior stars Cian Lynch and Tom Morrissey, but Barry Nash, a Leaving Cert student this summer, claimed the man of the match award after scoring five points from play.

A disappointing Wexford, runners-up for a second successive year, provided token resistance throughout.

Conor McDonald scored 1-04, including a second half goal from a deceptive, dipping strike, but he had precious little support as the Leinster champions crumbled.

Limerick were brilliant from start to finish, building on a seven-point half-time lead to claim the honours. 

Limerick led by 0-11 to 0-04 at the end of a first half dominated by talk of goals that weren’t.

Referee Johnny Ryan disallowed two, one for either side, after whistling back for frees when both teams could argue that advantage should have been played on each occasion.

Limerick were aggrieved first in the eleventh minute when Ronan Lynch netted after Oliver O’Leary batted away David Dempsey’s effort, but Ryan called play back for a 20m free.

Three minutes before half-time, Wexford’s Kevin Foley had the ball in the Limerick net but Ryan, again, disallowed the score.

Wexford badly needed a fillip at that stage as they were struggling badly.

The Slaneysiders endured a 17-minute barren spell on the scoreboard and by half-time, just one of their four points was registered from play.

Limerick, in contrast, were rampant as Nash helped himself to four points from play.

Senior panellist Tom Morrissey and Pat Ryan chipped in with a brace of points each and Cian Lynch, in a roving commission, was also on target.

Limerick opted for a two-man inside line from the start, with Lynch given the licence to operate around the middle third.

And Limerick’s system worked a treat as they devoured Wexford to claim a first U21 crown since 2002.

Forward stars Ronan Lynch, Cian Lynch, Morrissey and Nash were excellent but midfielder Pat Ryan chipped in with three points also.

Diarmuid Byrnes played a captain’s part with two points from a rock solid half back line, in which Gearóid Hegarty was also excellent.

After the McDonald goal, Limerick finished with a flourish by registering the final nine points of the game.

They could even afford the luxury of tapping a late penalty over the bar, with Peter Casey opting for a point with the end result in no doubt. 

Limerick: D McCarthy; S Finn, R English, M Casey; D Byrnes 0-02 (1f), B O’Connell, G Hegarty; D O’Donovan, P Ryan (0-03); R Lynch (0-06, 5f), C Lynch (0-03), D Dempsey; C Ryan, T Morrissey (0-04), B Nash (0-05).

Subs: P Casey (0-03, 0-01 pen) for C Ryan (50), A La-Touche Cosgrave for P Ryan (52), J Kelliher for R Lynch (55), M O’Callaghan for Finn (58), J Hannon for O’Donovan (59).

Wexford: O O’Leary; S Donohoe, L Ryan, E Conroy; J White, P Foley (0-01), J O’Connor; C Devitt, T French; A Kenny (0-01), K Foley, J Cash; C Dunbar (0-01), C McDonald (1-04, 0-03f, 0-01 sl), P Sutton.

Subs: S Murphy for French (35), S Kenny for Devitt (41), S Kelly for K Foley (46), J Firman for Cash (54).

Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary).