Kilkenny player ratings: TJ Reid once again the stand-out after exceptional performance

Malachy Clerkin assesses the performance of Brian Cody’s panel as they came up short at Croke Park

1 Eoin Murphy

No chance with Gearóid Hegarty’s goal. Limerick worked out his short puck-outs pretty early so he started launching them long. Got some joy – but only some. Missed a long free at a crucial stage in the first half. Rating: 5

2. Mikey Butler

Took up Graeme Mulcahy and dominated the exchanges between them – Mulcahy was the only Limerick forward not to score and was replaced on 48 minutes. Kept Peter Casey scoreless too. Rating: 8

3. Huw Lawlor

Highly creditable performance on Limerick’s danger man Aaron Gillane. Always able to get a hand or a hurl in. Cleared late danger without his stick and with two Limerick players bearing down as well. Rating: 7

4. Tommy Walsh

Had his hands full with Seamie Flanagan but more or less broke even in the end, restricting him to two points. Scored a point late on when he was probably trying to drop the ball into the square in search of a goal. Rating: 6


5. Mikey Carey

Was going reasonably well on Tom Morrissey, including a fine score of his own in the first half. But as the Limerick half-forward line turned the ratchet in the second half, Carey got a little overwhelmed. Rating: 5

6. Richie Reid

Struggled to keep pace with Kyle Hayes, who put in a monstrous afternoon. Couldn’t beat him in the air and didn’t pick up enough possession in the pocket either. Bad miss at a crucial stage 10 minutes from time. Rating: 5

7. Paddy Deegan

Tough day at the office. Oddly passive on Hegarty, who seemed to make hay with every possession. Never got close enough to disrupt the man of the match. Two well-taken points were scant consolation. Rating: 4

8 Cian Kenny

Found himself mostly bypassed in his first All-Ireland final. Couldn’t get on any ball in the trenches around the middle third and didn’t affect the game at all. Replaced by Walter Walsh at half-time. Rating: 4

9 Conor Browne

Took a lot of punishment around the middle but never backed down. Defiant under puck-outs and never let Will O’Donoghue dominate like he likes to. Kilkenny could have done with more from him going forward but a decent display. Rating: 7

10 TJ Reid

Exceptional performance. Faultless over his nine frees and had either the last pass or won primary possession for another 1-6. Kept Kilkenny in the game when they had every reason to drift out of it. Rating: 9

11 Pádraig Walsh

A frustrating day. Struggled to get on all that much ball through the crowded middle and had to feed off scraps for his two points. Caught in two minds when put through after a Walter Walsh catch and eventually replaced. Rating: 5

12 Billy Ryan

Popped up with the vital goal when Kilkenny needed it most but struggled to make an impact otherwise. Outplayed by Diarmaid Byrnes, although there was no disgrace in that given that Byrnes is the likely hurler of the year now. Rating: 6

13 Adrian Mullen

Came into it when he moved out to midfield for the second half after a fairly anonymous opening period. Scored three from play and took a lot of punishment for them. His best year yet in a Kilkenny jersey. Rating: 7

14 Martin Keoghan

Battled all day and fully deserved his goal. Had to live off bitty possession as Kilkenny put everything up for grabs instead of sending prescriptive ball his way. First half wide was a blemish but rallied throughout. Rating: 7

15 Eoin Cody

Mixed bag. His best 30 seconds came in the first half when he flashed a point at one end before sprinting the length of the pitch to deny Kyle Hayes a certain goal at the other. Two second half wides couldn’t have come at a worse time, though. Rating: 5


For all the talk that Limerick had a huge advantage here, Kilkenny got massive impact from the bench. Walter Walsh turned the tide under puck-outs, John Donnelly, Richie Hogan and Alan Murphy all scored. Rating: 8

Manager: Brian Cody

Incredible that he can still draw days like these from his players after all these years. May regret not starting Walter Walsh in a game where physicality and aerial prowess was always going to be important. But running Limerick this close is an achievement. Rating: 7

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times