Limerick Under-21s surge past Wexford to All-Ireland
Impressive Treaty county led from early on, playing to the tune of a 18,554 crowd at Semple Stadum
Limerick’s Cian Lynch and Simon Donohoe of Wexford during the Under-21 hurling final. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Nothing was about to stop Limerick from winning this All-Ireland under-21 hurling title. Not the starving, naked desire of Wexford, and certainly not the weight of Limerick’s own expectation - the old-style pitch invasion at the finish a clear indication of what it meant to everyone involved.
As a contest it was played strictly on Limerick’s terms. In front of the 18,554 crowd at Semple Stadium, they took charge early on and never let go - their 16-point winning margin only some indication of the superiority of the Munster champions.
So, Limerick claim the distinctive Cross of Cashel trophy for the first time since 2002 (and actually the last time, as the GAA intend on replacing the trophy from next year). With that came real disappointment for Wexford, however, who have now lost 10 finals since their first and only victory, way back in 1965 (the second year of the competition).
This one was all about Limerick. They had Wexford looking like a sinking ship inside the first 15 minutes, with Tom Morrissey, Barry Nash and Cian Lynch shooting with superb strength and will, and Ronan Lynch brilliant with the placed ball, Limerick went six points ahead by the 25 minute mark, and might have been further ahead.
Limerick were doing everything right: first to the breaking ball, harder into the tackle, quicker off the mark. No such joy for Wexford: Andrew Kenny levelled it up at 0-2 apiece on eight minutes, but then Wexford went the next 17 minutes without a score - while Limerick raged on relentlessly.
Twice in that first half, referee Johnny Ryan from Tipperary disallowed goals that should well have counted on the advantage rule: at least they balanced each other out. On 13 minutes, Ronan Lynch buried an initial save from Limerick goalkeeper David McCarthy, but Ryan called that back - for a foul on David Dempsey, who had the initial shot: so, Lynch himself converted the free.
Later, on 28 minutes, and when Wexford for crying out for a goal, Cathal Dunbar’s initial shot was saved, before being buried by Kevin Foley: again, Ryan called that back - leaving McDonald to convert the free instead.
Those decisions certainly cost Wexford more than Limerick. Had Foley’s goal being allowed it would have closed the gap to two points; instead, Limerick raged on until half-time, adding three quick points in succession, which left them 0-11 to 0-4 in front (only one of Wexford’s points coming from play).
Conor McDonald did raise some hope for Wexford with just under 10 minutes to go, scoring a brilliant long range goal. It was short lived, as Limerick replied with four points on the trot - and were then awarded a penalty, which substitute Peter Casey coolly tapped over the bar.
The only threat for Limerick at the end was from the sideline, as their band of supporters waited to invade on the moment on triumph. That left captain Diarmaid Byrnes trying a clear a path before collecting the Rock of Cashel trophy, nothing like the room that their victory margin had afforded them.
LIMERICK: D McCarthy; S Finn, R English, M Casey; D Byrnes, capt, (0-2, one free) Barry O’Connell, G Hegarty; D O’Donovan, P Ryan (0-3); B Nash (0-5), C Lynch (0-3), D Dempsey (0-4); T Morrissey, C Ryan, R Lynch (0-6, five frees).
Subs: P Casey (0-3, one free) for Ryan (50 mins), A La-Touche-Cosgrave for Ryan (52 mins), J Kelliher for Ronan Lynch (55 mins), M O’Callaghan for Finn (58 mins), J Hannon for O’Donovan (59 mins),
WEXFORD: O O’Leary; S Donohue, L Ryan, E Conroy, capt; J White, P Foley (0-1), J O’Connor; C Devitt, T French; A Kenny (0-1), K Foley, J Cash; C Dunbar (0-1), C McDonald (1-4, three frees, one sideline), P Sutton.
Subs: S Murphy for French (35 mins), S Kenny for Devitt (41 mins), S Kelly for Foley (45 mins), J Firman for Cash (47 mins),
Referee: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary).