Allianz HL D1: Galway defeat Limerick
Allianz Hurling League Division 1A
GALWAY 0-26 LIMERICK 1-17
By Cian O'Connell at Pearse Stadium
Since Limerick staged a dramatic promotion winning comeback at this venue three years ago, Galway have endured significant heartbreak against an accomplished green and white team.
Ultimately little will be defined during the second weekend of the Allianz League, but this victory mattered for Galway. Two points were pocketed and a small statement was made. It was Limerick's first competitive defeat since losing the 2019 All Ireland SHC semi-final to Kilkenny at Croke Park, 659 days ago.
Galway matched Limerick physically and that meant a decent battle unfolded in Salthill. Captain Padraic Mannion led by example, Conor Whelan was prominent, and Joe Canning entered the fray to land a signature score late on which decorated the success.
An interesting opening period featured plenty of encouraging moments for Galway, who mined 0-14 from 17 attempts.
That efficient conversion rate ensured Shane O'Neill's charges departed at the interval armed with a 0-14 to 1-8 lead.
Limerick did plunder a goal in the 27th minute minute when Gearoid Hegarty crafted a chance for Seamus Flanagan, who duly obliged by making the Galway net dance.
Galway had accumulated a 0-10 to 0-5 advantage before Flanagan's intervention with Conor Whelan hugely effective in attack for the home team.
Whelan clipped a couple of points and created further scores for the maroon and white outfit, who were performing smartly against the standard bearers.
Evan Niland was sharp from frees for Galway scoring seven first half points as Galway posed questions.
Limerick went looking for solutions with Darragh O'Donovan and Aaron Gillane summoned from the stand.
Gillane made an impact pinching two neat points from play, but Galway were still doing enough at the opposite end.
Niland was accurate converting frees and Galway edged 0-19 to 1-12 ahead by the 51st minute.
Three of the next four points were struck by Limerick, but then Galway seized the initiative.
A Niland free was followed by a clever Canning flick which enabled Cathal Mannion to drill a gorgeous point. Further frees from Canning and Niland guided Galway 0-24 to 1-15 in front with five minutes remaining.
Limerick required another goal, but with Jack Fitzpatrick and substitute Darren Morrissey defiant, Galway closed out the deal.
The only thing missing for the locals was a throaty roar from an appreciative crowd.
Scorers for Galway: Evan Niland 0-14 (14fs), Conor Whelan 0-3, David Burke, Cathal Mannion, and Joe Canning (1f) 0-2 each, Ja Mannion, Brian Concannon, and Niall Burke 0-1 each.
Scorers for Limerick: David Reidy 0-8 (7fs), Aaron Gillane 0-4 (2fs), Seamus Flanagan 1-0, Gearoid Hegarty and Peter Casey 0-2 each, Diarmaid Byrnes 0-1 (f).
GALWAY: Eanna Murphy; Sean Loftus, Gearoid McInerney, Jack Fitzpatrick; Adrian Tuohey, Padraic Mannion, Fintan Burke; David Burke, Cathal Mannion; Joseph Cooney, Evan Niland, Brian Concannon; Conor Whelan, Niall Burke, Ja Mannion.
Subs: Johnny Coen for D Burke (35+2), Darren Morrissey for Loftus (47), Joe Canning for J Cooney (50), Shane Cooney for Tuohey (50), Jason Flynn for Mannion (56).
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Richie English, Dan Morrissey, Aaron Costello; Diarmaid Byrnes, Kyle Hayes, Barry Nash; William O'Donoghue, Brian O'Grady; Gearoid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, David Reidy; Cathal O'Neill, Seamus Flanagan, Peter Casey.
Subs: Aaron Gillane for O'Neill (HT), Darragh O'Donovan for O'Grady (HT), Brian Ryan for English (56), Adrian Breen for Casey (60), Tom Morrissey for Reidy (63).
REFEREE: James Owens (Wexford).