All Ireland SHC semi-final: Limerick advance to decider
All Ireland SHC semi-final
LIMERICK 0-27 GALWAY 0-24
By Cian O'Connell at Croke Park
Ultimately, Limerick did just enough to earn a passage into a second All Ireland decider in three years.
A rugged and resilient Galway caused Limerick significant problems, but John Kiely’s accomplished collection of players found a way to survive. That has been a constant theme throughout 2020.
Now Limerick have a fortnight to prepare for a repeat of the Munster final against Waterford. It promises to be an intriguing affair at the Jones Road venue.
In a physical game that was sprinkled with sub plots, Galway were determined until the bitter end, but Limerick still fended off the Tribe challenge.
Curiously Galway concluded the contest with five sideline cuts scored, but Limerick’s durable forward unit were effective.
The opening period illustrated Limerick’s patience and purpose as John Kiely’s team absorbed a defiant Galway start to seize the initiative.
A powerful Limerick outfit converted 0-15 from 24 shots, Galway were efficient mining 0-13 from 18 attempts.
Galway, with Brian Concannon dashing about craving involvement and Conor Whelan typically industrious, accumulated a 0-7 to 0-2 advantage by the 15th minute.
Before the water break Limerick added two points courtesy of Seamus Flanagan and Gearoid Hegarty to narrow the gap.
Concannon guided Galway four in front when the action recommenced, but then Limerick reeled off five without reply.
Sharp stickwork, willing runners from deep, and an ability to break through tackles enabled Limerick clip scores from a variety of distances and angles.
Diarmaid Byrnes clipped a couple of beauties, while Hegarty and Tom Morrissey continued to cause Galway bother.
At the opposite end of the field Concannon was prominent, while Joe Canning was delivering trademark sideline cuts from under the Cusack Stand.
The prolific Portumna clubman nailed three of those sweet efforts in the first half, but Limerick, who repeatedly gathered Galway puck outs, went in at the interval armed with a 0-15 to 0-13 lead.
Galway made a couple of tactical tweaks at the outset of the second period with Joseph Cooney moving from defence to attack.
Cooney drilled a nice point immediately after the restart, but Limerick remained in the ascendancy hitting six of the next eight points in the build up to the three quarter mark.
By that stage Limerick’s cushion was 0-21 to 0-16, but Galway admirably continued to battle with Canning sharp from frees.
Eanna Murphy made a good stop to thwart Limerick substitute David Reidy and Galway were beginning to believe that a daring comeback mission could be launched.
With 12 minutes remaining the gap was trimmed down to two following a Canning effort as Galway bravely stayed in the race.
Unfortunately Canning, who decorated the match remarkably scoring four sideline cuts, was forced off injured in the closing stages.
Galway did claw their way back on to level terms as substitute Evan Niland (free) and Conor Whelan landed points.
Level with nine minutes of additional time to be played, Limerick were under duress, but they answered the stern questions being posed by Galway.
Tom Morrissey returned to centre stage in the dying embers as Limerick closed out the deal in cool fashion.
Scorers for Limerick: Tom Morrissey (1f) and Aaron Gillane (5fs) 0-6 each, Gearoid Hegarty 0-4, Diarmaid Byrnes 0-3 (1f), Cian Lynch, Peter Casey, and Seamus Flanagan 0-2 each, Declan Hannon and Adrian Breen 0-1 each.
Scorers for Galway: Joe Canning 0-12 (8fs, 4 sidelines), Brian Concannon and Conor Whelan 0-3 each, Evan Niland 0-2 (1f), Joseph Cooney, Cathal Mannion, Adrian Tuohey, Fintan Burke (sideline) 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; Darragh O'Donovan, William O'Donoghue; Gearoid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Graeme Mulcahy.
Subs: Peter Casey for Mulcahy (40), David Reidy for O’Donovan (52), Adrian Breen for Flanagan (62), Paddy O’Loughlin for Hannon (70+4), Pat Ryan for Gillane (70+6).
GALWAY: Eanna Murphy; Sean Loftus, Daithí Burke, Aidan Harte; Shane Cooney, Gearoid McInerney, Joseph Cooney; Padraic Mannion; Johnny Coen; David Burke, Cathal Mannion, Joe Canning; Conor Whelan, Conor Cooney, Brian Concannon.
Subs: Adrian Tuohey for C Mannion (24), Fintan Burke for D Burke (HT), Jason Flynn for C Cooney (45), Sean Linnane for S Cooney (52), Evan Niland for Canning (69).
REFEREE: James Owens (Wexford).