BGE U21 Semi-Final: Limerick edge thriller
Bord Gais Energy All Ireland Under 21 Semi-Final
LIMERICK 2-23 GALWAY 2-19
By Declan Rooney at Semple Stadium
Limerick will meet Kilkenny in the Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland Under 21 final next month after holding off the challenge of a battling Galway outfit in a gripping contest at Semple Stadium, Thurles.
It seemed that extra-time would be required when Galway’s Evan Niland levelled the teams for the 10th time in the 59th minute.
But Limerick, having the benefit of a tough Munster campaign under their belt, finished strongly and after Aaron Gillane edged them in front. Limerick sealed the win with points in stoppage time from Thomas Grimes, Robbie Hanley and Gillane.
It was tough luck on Galway, who were playing their first match in the competition, but they were in contention throughout.
The teams were level at the break at 1-9 to 0-12. Limerick, playing against the breeze, got a great start when Peter Casey notched 1-2 in the opening 10 minutes after Brian Concannon and Thomas Monaghan had got Galway off the mark.
Galway drew level going into the second quarter thanks to efforts from Dan Nevin, Monaghan and Sean Linnane after Barry Murphy had soloed through for a good Limerick point.
Galway goalkeeper Darragh Gilligan produced some good saves, denying Barry Nash approaching the interval, with Gillane’s resultant 65 making it 1-8 to 0-9.
Galway, hoping to join their seniors and minors in All-Ireland finals in September, responded with a point from Conor Whelan and another from Nevin, with Nash and Whelan exchanging points just before the break.
Limerick enjoyed a great start to the second-half and looked set to pull away when Nash found the net and Barry Murphy pointed to open up a 2-13 to 0-14 lead after 36 minutes.
But the Tribesmen hit back and a goal from Jack Coyne after a great run from senior player Whelan.
Galway subsequently drew level at 1-16 to 2-13 after 43 minutes thanks to scores from Whelan and Grealish.
Gillane and Monaghan exchanged points before Cian Lynch edged Limerick in front.
But then Whelan struck for a superb goal to put Galway two points ahead with 12 minutes remaining.
Impressive Limerick substitute Andrew La Touche Cosgrave and Kyle Hayes pointed to level for the eighth time.
Points were exchanged twice in the closing stages before Limerick finished well.
Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-8 (4fs, 2 ’65s); Peter Casey and Barry Murphy 1-2 each, Barry Nash 0-4, Thomas Grimes 0-2, Robbie Hanley, Cian Lynch, Andrew La Touche Cosgrave, Kyle Hayes, and Conor Boylan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Galway: Conor Whelan 1-3 (2fs), Jack Coyne 1-1, Thomas Monaghan and Brian Concannon 0-4 each, Dan Nevin 0-2 (1f), Kevin McHugo, Sean Linnane, Sean Loftus (f), Jack Grealish, and Evan Niland (f) 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: Eoghan McNamara; Sean Finn; Darragh Fanning; Dan Joy; Ronan Lynch, Kyle Hayes, Thomas Grimes; Colin Ryan, Robbie Hanley; Aaron Gillane, Barry Murphy, Cian Lynch; Peter Casey, Tom Morrissey, Barry Nash.
Subs: Andrew La Touche Cosgrave for Cian Lynch (30-31, blood) and for Tom Morrissey (44), Conor Boylan for Colin Ryan (44), Jack O’Grady for Sean Finn (52), Seamus Flanagan for Barry Murphy (59), Mike Mackey for Barry Nash (65).
GALWAY: Darragh Gilligan; Declan Cronin, Conor Cosgrove, Ian Fox; Jack Grealish, Joseph Mooney, Sean Loftus; Kevin McHugo, Dan Nevin; Brian Concannon, Sean Linnane, Thomas Monaghan; Conor Whelan, Cian Burke, Jack Coyne.
Subs: Ciaran O’Connor for Ian Fox (21), Evan Niland for Cian Burke (37), Gearoid Loughnane for Concannon (42-43, blood) and for Jack Coyne (57), Fintan Burke for Joseph Mooney (52), Ronan Elwood for Kevin McHugo (58).
REFEREE: John Keenan (Wicklow).