Hurling All-Ireland semi-final: Limerick triumph over Galway
When Limerick trailed by six points after 25 minutes of this All-Ireland semi-final, you wondered if the three All-Ireland champions were faltering. They had been pushed around and overtaken by an energetic Galway side, and were struggling to muster their usual mix of fluidity with the ball and controlled aggression without it.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) July 8, 2023
Limerick’s defensive dominance
But then their defense with William O’Donoghue in an unfamiliar centre-back position became familiar with the men they were marking, they started to compete with their usual zeal for the ball in the central third and they dominated the puck battle.
Limerick Advanced Domination
It gave them the platform to really bring their forwards into the contest and they completely dominated the last 10 minutes of the first half and the entire second to eventually miss some very comfortable winners.
Limerick’s hunger and Galway’s disappointment
Clearly, the hunger of this Limerick side remains intact as they now advance to another All-Ireland final and attempt to make it four titles in a row and five in six years. The way their challenge fizzled out after a very encouraging start will be hugely disappointing for the Galway players.
Galway’s promising start and Limerick’s response
They had quickly settled into the contest, with points from Evan Niland (free) and Brian Concannon sandwiching a free Aaron Gillane for Limerick. But then, somewhat against the run of play, Limerick landed the game’s first blow when Gillane scored for a trademark goal.
Galway’s struggle and Limerick’s shooting problems
Galway hit back immediately with another free Niland who testified to the steely mental determination they brought to the competition. Another free Niland brought them level and then Conor Whelan pushed them back in the lead when he won a ball past Mike Casey, cleared the Limerick defender and launched the sliotar over the bar.
Another free Niland soon followed before Limerick leveled the game again – 1-3 to 0-6 – thanks to points from Gillane (free) and Peter Casey. Then came the best attacking play of the game so far when Kevin Cooney played Cathal Mannion with a true vision pass and the midfielder whipped the sliotar to the net from a tight angle.
At the other end of the pitch, Limerick’s shot was uncharacteristically off-kilter with seven different players hitting seven wide in the first half.
Limerick’s revival and late rise
A tricky situation for Limerick could have been much worse if Mike Casey hadn’t made a brilliant goal-line save from a Concannon ground-kick that looked destined for the net. As if spurred on by that near miss, Limerick came to life in the final 10 minutes of the first half.
Darragh O’Donovan deserves a lot of credit for their resurgence. He hit a big point wide down the left, then set two more for Aaron Gillane and Seamus Flanagan with beautifully weighted passes. The defending champions scored the final four points of the half to leave Galway 1-13 at 1-12 at the break, which was not to reflect the huge effort the tribesmen had product.
Limerick’s second-half dominance and Galway’s struggles
Limerick have a well-deserved reputation for putting their foot on the accelerator early in the second half and they did so again in this game. They edged Galway by four points to two in the first ten minutes of halftime with the pick of the pack an inspirational effort from Tom Morrissey.
Then came their second goal, and it was one that Galway will have nightmares about. Cian Lynch got David Reidy through with a smart pass and when the winger squared him off Aaron Gillane, his first batting effort hit the crossbar. Padraic Mannion tried to erase the rebound but instead headed it straight into Gillane’s path again and this time the Patrickswell star finished mercilessly as he kicked in a groundstroke in the net.
Now trailing by four points, Galway were in deep trouble. They struggled to control the game because Limerick swallowed the ball almost every time Éanna Murphy took it out. And when they managed to win the ball in the middle third, they were under such pressure from Limerick’s swarming tacklers that they struggled to get decent passes into their hungry inside attackers.
Comfortable victory for Limerick and disappointment for Galway
Points from Kyle Hayes, Gearoid Hegarty, Peter Casey and David Reidy pushed a now very dominant Limerick side seven points clear in the 58th minute, and even then a return to Galway looked highly unlikely. Limerick had the luxury of leading their bench and won, with substitutes Graeme Mulcahy and Cathal O’Neill coming on in injury time as they scored the game’s final two points.
Looking ahead: Limerick’s journey continues
So Limerick are heading to another All-Ireland final where they hope to write another historic chapter in their already remarkable history.
Scorers and rosters
Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 2-6 (5f), Diarmaid Byrnes 0-3 (3f), Kyle Hayes, Gearoid Hegarty, Tom Morrissey, Peter Casey, Seamus Flanagan all 0-2, Darragh O’Donovan, Graeme Mulcahy, Cathal O’Neill, David Reidy, Cian Lynch all 0-1.
Scorers for Galway: Evan Niland 0-9 (all free), Cathal Mannion 1-1, Conor Whelan 0-3, Brian Concannon 0-3, Kevin Cooney, Tom Monaghan both 0-1.
The Limerick team: Nickie Quaid; Michael Casey, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, William O’Donoghue, Kyle Hayes; Darragh O’Donovan, Cian Lynch; Gearoid Hegarty, Tom Morrissey, Dv; Aaron Gillan, Seamus Flanagan, Peter Casey. Subs: Cathal O’Neill for Tom Morrissey (56), Graeme Mulcahy for Peter Casey (67), Conor Boylan for Gearoid Hegarty (69), Oisin O’Reilly for Seamus Flanagan, Adam English for Darragh O’Donovan (both 72 ) .
The Galway team: Eanna Murphy; Jack Grealish, Daithi Burke, Darren Morrissey; Padraic Mannion, Gearoid McInerney, Seán Linnane; Joseph Cooney, Cathal Mannion; Ronan Glennon, Cianan Fahy, Kevin Cooney; Conor Whelan, Brian Concannon, Evan Niland. Replacements: Tom Mon
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