Limerick consigned 1973 to the past in a dramatic finale when it seemed they had easily seen off a disappointing Galway.
Tom Morrissey’s 54th minute goal looked to have sent John Kiely’s men on their way to a long-awaited win, carved out by a dogged full-back line and the work-rate and movement of their forwards. Morrissey’s dispossession of Gearóid McInerney for his goal typified the graft put into the performance.
The green flag sent Limerick nine clear and it might have been 11 had James Skehill not denied Seamus Flanagan, a save which saw the end of the Galway goalkeeper’s game as he retired with an injury.
More or less thanks to Joe Canning, Galway pulled within five but Shane Dowling again made an impact with a 68th minute goal after some fine work by fellow substitute Peter Casey who stole the ball from Adrian Tuohey.
The breaks fell for Limerick but then they also had to demonstrate character especially after Conor Whelan followed Dowling’s goal with one at the other end, which made it a five-point game again.
Canning fired a goal from a 20-metre free and when Niall Burke sent over a point the difference was one. Graeme Mulcahy pushed Limerick out to two once more prior to a Canning 65. The Portumna man had one last chance from long distance to force a replay but it fell short and Limerick ever so gladly cleared their lines.
An error-strewn first half was bossed by Limerick as much as their 1-10 to 0-9 half-time lead was not as flattering as it should have been. Eleven wides and two shots dropping short wasn’t almost matched by Galway for wayward aims with 10 wides and one falling before the goalposts but Limerick had been far better.
The only goal of the half was in keeping with the period: messy. Kyle Hayes squared the ball to Mulcahy who lost control of the ball after taking it to hand but managed to guide towards goal.
Galway failed to break the ball to either side and safety and Mulcahy keep a presence to push the ball past the goal-line.
That 17th-minute goal put Limerick back in front after they temporarily lost it for a couple of minutes having started so much brighter than Galway, who had been out of the traps earlier than most this summer.
Seamus Flanagan’s movement was causing the Galway inside line problems, Galway’s backs were forced into errors clearing their lines while the Limerick fullbacks were on top.
Limerick was sloppy at times in their shooting and supply to their forwards but captain Declan Hannon showed the way with a couple of timely points.
A couple of scores brought Galway to within two points in the second minute of injury-time but Limerick saw out the half with an Aaron Gillane free and a Flanagan point.
Scorers for Limerick: G. Mulcahy (1-2); T. Morrissey (1-1); K. Hayes (0-4); A. Gillane (0-3, 2 frees); S. Dowling (1-0); D. Hannon (0-2); C. Lynch, D. O’Donovan, S. Flanagan, D. Byrnes (0-1 each).
Scorers for Galway: J. Canning (1-10, 1-5 frees, 2 65s); David Burke, J. Cooney (0-3 each); C. Whelan (1-0); P. Mannion, N. Burke (0-1 each).
LIMERICK: N. Quaid; R. English, M. Casey, S. Finn; D. Byrnes, D. Hannon (c), D. Morrissey; D. O’Donovan, C. Lynch; G. Hegarty, K. Hayes, T. Morrissey; S. Flanagan, A. Gillane, G. Mulcahy.
Subs for Limerick: R. McCarthy for M. Casey (inj 50); S. Dowling for G. Hegarty (56); P. Casey for S. Flanagan (64); W. O’Donoghue for D. O’Donovan (67); T. Condon for R. English (70+2).
GALWAY: J. Skehill; A. Tuohey, Daithí Burke, J. Hanbury; P. Mannion, G. McInerney, A. Harte; J. Coen, David Burke (c); J. Cooney, J. Canning, C. Mannion; C. Whelan, J. Glynn, C. Cooney.
Subs for Galway: N. Burke for C. Mannion (46); J. Flynn for C. Cooney (blood, 49-52); P. Killeen for J. Hanbury (57); J. Flynn for C. Cooney (59); S. Loftus for J. Coen (60); F. Flannery for J. Skehill (inj 61).
Referee: J. Owens (Wexford).