KILKENNY ARE INTO the All-Ireland minor hurling final for the 44th time in their history following a 12-point win over Munster champions Limerick.
The Cats had lost two of their previous three games heading into this clash – to Wexford in the Leinster final and against Galway in the All-Ireland quarter-final round-robin – but they were convincing winners here.
They fell to Galway by seven points in last year’s decider and are bidding to win their first Irish Press Cup since 2014.
Limerick, unbeaten until today, were aiming to reach All-Ireland decider for the first time since 2016. They continued a recent poor run by Munster champions in the last four – just nine of the last 20 winners from the southern province have gone on to reach the final.
Cathal O’Neill bagged 0-10 and showed brilliantly in the opening period but his shooting let him down after the break, while he was twice dispossessed as he ran at the Kilkenny rearguard. That summed up Limerick’s issues in front of the posts.
The victors had forwards Billy Drennan and man-of-the-match Tommy Clifford in fine form. The pair posted 1-14 between them on an afternoon where the Treaty defence failed to live with their threat.
All of Clifford’s efforts came from open play. The centre-field was a constant menace and his shooting was deadly-accurate.
Kilkenny had a better range of scorers across the field with midfielder Liam Moore (0-4) and wing-back Peter McDonald (0-2) also contributing to the scoreboard.
Kilkenny’s goal arrived within 38 seconds of the throw-in through Jack Doyle after a surging run through the Limerick rearguard. The Munster outfit did settle into the game, boosted by the brilliance of O’Neill in attack.
James Aylward takes a sideline cut.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
He had seven points on the board by the interval (three from play), the pick of which arrived after he had soared into the air to fetch a Jack Franklin puck-out. A magnificent point from a Kirby sideline cut helped push Limerick ahead by 0-10 to 1-6 after 20 minutes.
The Cats enjoyed a storming finish before the break with Billy Drennan and Timmy Clifford to the fore as they went in two points in front.
That lead was extended to five when Adam English saw a goal chance saved by Aidan Tallis. It was a major turning point in the game. Within seconds, Kilkenny worked the ball up field and Drennan finished low past Franklin.
That pushed Kilkenny 2-17 to 0-15 ahead, while they rained over further scores from Byrne, Clifford and McDonald. By the time goalkeeper Tallis was landing over a free from well inside his own half in the 60th minute, the game was long over as a contest.
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Scorers for Kilkenny: Billy Drennan 1-8 (0-6f), Timmy Clifford 0-6, Jack Doyle 1-0, Liam Moore 0-4, Peter McDonald and Ian Doyle 0-2 each, James Aylward and Aidan Tallis 0-1 each.
Scorers for Limerick: Cathal O’Neill 0-10 (0-6f), Aidan O’Connor 0-4, Patrick Kirby 0-2 (0-1 sideline), Eddie Stokes, Adam English, Jimmu Quilty and Ethan Hurley 0-1 each.
1. Aidan Tallis (Lisdowney)
2. Billy Reid (Glenmore)
3. William Halpin (Slieverue)
4. Tristan Roche (St Martins)
of the team
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5. Peter McDonald (Thomastown)
6. Padraic Moylan (Dicksboro)
7. Zach Bay Hammond (Thomastown)
8. Liam Moore (Dicksboro)
9. James Aylward (Mooncoin)
10. Pierce Blanchfield (Graiguenamanagh)
14. Timmy Clifford (Dicksboro)
11. Colman O’Sullivan (Tullogher Rosbercon)
13. Billy Drennan (Galmoy)
12. Jack Doyle (Windgap)
15. Ian Byrne (Glenmore)
18. Denis Walsh (Dunnamaggin) for Blanchfield (55)
17. Andy Hickey (Dunnamaggin) for O’Sullivan (58)
19. Seanan Doyle (Blacks & Whites) for Byrne (61)
1. Jack Franklin (Kilteely-Dromkeen)
2. Ronan Lyons (Monaleen)
3. Michael Cremin (Newcastle)
4. Fergal O’Connor (Effin)
5. Jimmy Quilty (Blackrock)
6. Ethan Hurley (Newcastle West)
7. Colin Coughlan (Ballybrown)
8. Patrick Kirby (Patrickswell)
9. Adam Murrihy (Ahane)
11. Cathal O’Neill (Crecora-Manister)
10. Eddie Stokes (Doon)
12. Adam English (Doon)
13. Aidan O’Connor (Ballybrown)
14. Patrick O’Donovan (Effin)
15. Liam Lynch (Mungret St Paul’s)
17. Patrick Reale (Knockainey) for Stokes (15)
19. Cian Casey (Ahane) for Murphy (45)
20. Darragh Casey (Grenagh/Ballinagarry) for Lynch (51)
Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway)
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