Kilkenny blitz Limerick to seal spot in All-Ireland minor final
Cats put Leinster defeat to Galway behind them with brilliant second-half showing
Zach Bay Hammond leads Kilkenny’s celebrates after their victory over Limerick in the All-Ireland Minor SHC semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Kilkenny 2-24 Limerick 0-18
You might have imagined we’d seen the back of this Kilkenny minor team when they lost the Electric Ireland Leinster final to Wexford.
Privately, not a whole pile was expected of Richie Mulrooney’s group before the championship began, as the manager himself acknowledged after this ultra impressive semi-final win.
“Probably earlier in the year we mightn’t have thought that we’d get to this stage,” he admitted.
Against that grim background, Kilkenny’s performance was all the more laudable with the young Cats conjuring up a storming second-half display.
They outscored the Munster champions by 1-12 to 0-5 in that period, having already held a two-point half-time lead.
As Mulrooney also said, it was as if they picked up where they left off in the second half of the quarter-final group stage game against Galway.
They lost that game to Galway by three points but had trailed by a dozen at one stage so left the field with a strange mixture of disappointment and optimism.
Still riding that wave of momentum, they netted after just 32 seconds in this semi-final tie through Jack Doyle.
It was an even enough first half after that with the sides level four times, though Kilkenny took a 1-12 to 0-13 half-time lead and would have the wind behind them after the break.
The capitalised on that advantage to open up a five-point lead before top scorer Billy Drennan, who hit 1-8, netted in the 42nd minute, effectively killing the contest.
Liam Moore and man of the match Timmy Clifford were terrific too as Kilkenny gave the distinct impression that they’re only just getting going in the minor championship.
They will play the winners of Sunday’s semi-final between Galway and Wexford on August 18th.
KILKENNY: A Tallis (0-1, free); B Reid, W Halpin, T Roche; P McDonald (0-2), P Moylan, ZB Hammon; L Moore (0-4), J Aylward (0-1); P Blanchfield, T Clifford (0-6), C O’Sullivan; B Drennan (1-8, four frees), J Doyle (1-0), I Byrne (0-2).
Subs: D Walsh for Blanchfield (55 mins), A Hickey for O’Sullivan (58), S Doyle for Byrne (61).
LIMERICK: J Franklin; F O’Connor, M Cremin, R Lyons; J Quilty (0-2), E Hurley (0-1), C Coughlan; P Kirby (0-2, one s/l), A Murrihy; E Stokes (0-1), C O’Neill (0-9, six frees), A English; A O’Connor (0-3), P O’Donovan, L Lynch.
Subs: P Reale for Stokes (15 mins), C Casey for Murrihy (44), D Casey for Lynch (51).
Referee: L Gordon (Galway).