Paddy Langton, Kilkenny, and Adam English, Limerick, in action at FBD Semple Stadium.
Paddy Langton, Kilkenny, and Adam English, Limerick, in action at FBD Semple Stadium. All Ireland U20 Final: Kilkenny edge out Limerick All-Ireland Under 20 Hurling Final

Kilkenny 0-19 Limerick 0-18

By Shane Brophy at FBD Semple Stadium

Kilkenny won their first Under 20 or 21 All-Ireland in 14 years as they edged past Limerick by the narrowest of margins in the final at FBD Semple Stadium Thurles on Sunday.

In an absorbing second half, Kilkenny always had the upper hand on the scoreboard and retained it into added time when with the last puck of the game, Colin Coughlan had the chance to send the game to extra time, but his effort from 45 yards tailed wide.

In what was a cagey first half, Kilkenny led 0-10 to 0-9 at the break, despite having the elements at their back. There was never more than a score between the sides in the opening half, bar Limerick going into a 0-5 to 0-3 lead on 10 minutes with Adam English, Patrick O’Donovan (2), Patrick Kirby, and an Aidan O’Connor free on target for Limerick.

Kilkenny kept in touch through two points from Timmy Clifford, and one from Denis Walsh before Adam Hickey and Ian Byrne brought the sides level on fourteen minutes.

On four occasions in the second quarter Limerick got their noses on front through two O’Connor frees, English and Shane O’Brien but each time Kilkenny answered through Paddy Langton, two from Billy Brennan and one from Denis Walsh, the latter after Limerick keeper Conor Hanley Clarke turned a Timmy Clifford shot away.

Kilkenny dominated the period up to half time and went in with a deserved advantage thanks to a long range free from goalkeeper Aidan Tallis.

The trend of the game continued in the second half with Colin Coughlan bringing Limerick level, but they were never able to get their noses in front with Kilkenny always responding with Billy Drennan their star man with five points from play, four in the second half.

Kilkenny also had the better goal chances with Conor Hanley Clarke twice denying Ian Byrne in quick succession, the second leading to a Drennan 65 on 41 minutes.

The Kilkenny defence kept a much-vaunted Limerick attack under wraps for long stages with Aidan O’Connor scoring seven of their second half points with Eddie Stokes getting the other.

Going into added time, Kilkenny led by one point when the superb Timmy Clifford pointed from an acute angle. Limerick needed a goal and Stokes was fouled in a threatening position for O’Connor to convert the free and with the last play, Limerick worked the ball into Colin Coughlan, but his shot tailed wide and with it went Limerick’s chances as Kilkenny celebrate a long overdue success.

Scorers for Kilkenny: Billy Drennan 0-8 (2 frees, 1 65); Timmy Clifford 0-3; Denis Walsh, Ian Byrne 0-2 each; Aidan Tallis (free), Paddy Langton, Andy Hickey, Gearoid Dunne 0-1 each.

Scorers for Limerick: Aidan O’Connor 0-10 (7 frees); Adam English, Patrick O’Donovan 0-2 each; Colin Coughlan, Eddie Stokes, Shane O’Brien, Patrick Kirby 0-1 each.

Kilkenny: Aidan Tallis; Niall Rowe, Sean Purcell, Padraig Lennon; Joe Fitzpatrick, Padraic Moylan, Paddy Langton; Killian Doyle, Andy Hickey; Peter McDonald, Timmy Clifford, Denis Walsh; Billy Drennan, Gearoid Dunne, Ian Byrne.

Subs: James Walsh for Hickey (43); Eoghan O’Brien for Fitzpatrick (49); Jack Doyle for Dunne (58).

Limerick: Conor Hanley Clarke; Chris Thomas, Fergal O’Connor, Evan O’Leary; Colin Coughlan, Ethan Hurley, Cian Scully; Jimmy Quilty, John Kirby; Adam English, Aidan O’Connor, Eddie Stokes; Shane O’Brien, Patrick Kirby, Patrick O’Donovan.

Subs: Donnacha O Dalaigh for O’Donovan (49); Patrick Reale for O’Leary (55); Joe Sweeney for Scully (58).

Referee: Thomas Walsh (Waterford).