All Ireland SHC Final: Limerick win thriller
All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final
Limerick 1-31 Kilkenny 2-26
By Cian O'Connell at Croke Park
With Limerick's flair for the dramatic in 2022 this inevitably turned into a classic.
A Munster final for the ages culminated in victory over Clare, then Limerick edged out Galway in a compelling semi-final. The decider, on a melting afternoon in the capital, was another gripping match.
Kilkenny examined Limerick's resolve, but John Kiely's decorated team did enough. A three in a row was completed, and for the fourth occasion in five years the green and white flag is perched on the summit of the hurling world.
Similiar to Limerick's previous two matches so much happened. In the build up Cian Lynch was ruled out with an ankle injury, but Limerick ploughed on.
Gearoid Hegarty was influential, mining 1-5 from play, Declan Hannon led by example, while Kyle Hayes and Tom Morrissey were always relevant.
Kilkenny might have lost the game, but Brian Cody's outfit hurled with passion and purpose until the bitter end. Limerick just had the style and steel to prevail.
The opening period illustrated Limerick's craft and Kilkenny's courage. Kiely's side enjoyed plenty of productive moments in a high quality match, but Kilkenny remained defiant throughout.
By the time the interval rolled around Limerick's lead was 1-17 to 0-16 as Kilkenny battled with trademark grit.
Early on Limerick made a significant impression with Diarmaid Byrnes rifling over a free from distance.
In the fourth minute Gearoid Hegarty gathered the sliotar following a Séamus Flanagan touch. Hegarty somehow manufactured sufficient space to unleash a blistering effort that made the Kilkenny net dance.
Aaron Gillane subsequently kicked over a point as Limerick accumulated a 1-2 to 0-0 advantage by the sixth minute.
Kilkenny, though, were gutsy with TJ Reid, Eoin Cody, Paddy Deegan, Martin Keoghan, and Michael Carey landing points as the deficit was trimmed to 1-8 to 0-8 by the 19th minute.
Hegarty was causing Kilkenny bother, while Flanagan, Gillane, and Kyle Hayes were also motoring smoothly.
A 32nd minute Hayes point nudged Limerick 1-15 to 0-12 clear, but four of the next six points were registered by Kilkenny.
Ultimately it meant that Kilkenny only trailed 1-17 to 0-16 at the turnaround. The efficiency figures of both teams were decent with Limerick clipping 1-17 from 23 attempts, while Kilkenny nailed 0-16 from 21.
After the restart it wasn't as open and loose, but it remained intriguing. Points from Hayes and Gillane nudged Limerick six to the good, but then Kilkenny planted a goal.
Substitute Walter Walsh fashioned the opportunity with Billy Ryan supplying the finish. Suddenly the gap was down to three and Croke Park was rocking.
A second Kilkenny goal was registered in the 47th minute when TJ Reid and Eoin Cody created the chance for Martin Keoghan, who netted as Kilkenny's lead was cut to 1-22 to 2-18.
Another hard working Kilkenny replacement, John Donnelly, restored parity, but Limerick stayed focused.
With Tom Morrissey effective Limerick struck four of the next five points to lead 1-26 to 2-20 by the 58th minute.
Then Kilkenny reeled off three without reply. Reid, Adrian Mullen, and Richie Hogan, who received a stirring ovation, provided scores to level again.
Limerick found a way, though, embarking on a productive burst themselves. Hayes, substitutes Cathal O'Neill and Conor Boylan, Gillane, and Hegarty all raised white flags as Limerick pulled 1-31 to 2-23 clear.
Despite the setback, Kilkenny came thundering back. Tommy Walsh and subs Alan Murphy and David Blanchfield drilled over points in additional time.
When Colm Lyons' last whistle sounded Limerick were two ahead and some Cranberries tunes were shortly reverberating around the famous Jones Road venue. These are truly glorious times for Limerick hurling.
Scorers for Limerick: Gearoid Hegarty 1-5, Aaron Gillane 0-7 (4fs), Diarmaid Byrnes 0-5 (3fs, 165), Kyle Hayes and Tom Morrissey 0-4 each, Seamus Flanagan 0-2, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey, Conor Boylan, and Cathal O'Neill 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-9 (9fs), Martin Keoghan 1-1, Billy Ryan 1-0, Adrian Mullen 0-3, Paddy Deegan and Padraig Walsh 0-2 each, Tommy Walsh, Mikey Carey, Richie Reid, Eoin Cody, David Blanchfield, Walter Walsh, John Donnelly, Alan Murphy, and Richie Hogan 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Seán Finn, Mike Casey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey; William O'Donoghue, Darragh O'Donovan; Gearoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Graeme Mulcahy.
Subs: Peter Casey for Mulcahy (48), David Reidy for O'Donovan (52), Conor Boylan for Flanagan (60), Cathal O'Neill for T Morrissey (64).
KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Mikey Butler, Huw Lawlor, Tommy Walsh; Michael Carey, Richie Reid, Paddy Deegan; Cian Kenny, Conor Browne; TJ Reid, Padraig Walsh, Billy Ryan; Adrian Mullen, Martin Keoghan, Eoin Cody.
Subs: Conor Fogarty for Browne (17-25), Walter Walsh for Kenny (HT), David Blanchfield for Browne (53), Richie Hogan for Cody (59), Alan Murphy for Deegan (70+1).
REFEREE: Colm Lyons (Cork).