New green wave ends 45 years of heartache for Limerick

Out through the corridor and onto the internal road under the Hogan Stand, the songs from the Limerick dressing room could be heard loud and clear.

‘Zombie’, ‘World Of Our Own’, ‘Oh, Richie McCarthy’.

A crate or two of beer and cider that had been sequestered made an appearance.

Casting the shackles of 1973 aside while annexing not just the longest but most demanding championship in history, they were in heaven.

It should have felt that way long before the final whistle yesterday but Galway as champions couldn’t let them off so easily.

They had been at their poorest all summer, so much so that they looked down and out after Tom Morrissey’s 54th-minute goal, which left the westerners nine points in arrears.

Had James Skehill not put his body on the line to stop Seamus Flanagan four minutes later — a brave save which forced the Galway goalkeeper off with concussion — we could have been talking about a capitulation by the champions.

But it was Limerick who managed just one point from the 44th minute onwards, the Morrissey and Shane Dowling goals excluded.

Dowling’s goal, like the other two initiated by a turnover on a Galway defender sent Limerick seven points up in the 68th minute. And that appeared to be that until Conor Whelan caught and fired home a goal in the first of nine additional minutes.

A Limerick foul gave Joe Canning a 20-metre free four minutes later and he shot high to the left top corner.

Galway sensed blood, some of Limerick sensed 1994 déjà vu and Niall Burke’s follow-up point made it a one-point game.

Graeme Mulcahy ended Limerick’s 33-minute search for a white flag in the seventh minute of additional time, a score which obviously gave them some comfort, only for it to be followed by a Canning 65.

When Canning then stepped up to a free much further out, Limerick’s hearts rose to their mouths but Tom Condon was on hand to clear their lines and James Owens’ whistle never sounded sweeter.

A draw would have been theft but on reflection, for such a young team, they couldn’t expect to get it so easily.

History carries a weight and it was felt in those closing stages as good a job as this Limerick group have done to ensure the county’s past of close-run things doesn’t define them.

Twenty wides to Galway’s 16 was a remarkable tally for a winning team but there will be no complaints in the Treaty City and beyond this morning.

Breaks too went their way also. Players had two and three attempts to catch balls when on other occasions there would be no opportunities to make amends.

Graeme Mulcahy’s messy goal was a case example of how the ball fell kindly for them, but their worth here was more than the one-point difference at the end.

They had started out far sharper than Galway, hammering what had been the

Tribesmen’s hammer this summer.

Although they had clocked up four wides in as many minutes, they were 0-3 to no score ahead up to the seventh.

Without playing through the lines, Limerick offered up easy ball to Galway’s half-back and last year’s champions were a point up in the 16th minute despite the anonymity of their inside forwards, Mike Casey such a force at full-back for Limerick.

Mulcahy scrambled the ball over the line in the 17th minute after Kyle Hayes had squared the ball to him following an interception.

 Three Limerick points without reply followed and Limerick grew comfortable in the driving seat as much as they were still racking up wides.

Galway ended a 12-minute spell without a score in the 28th minute with the first of three points in a row but Limerick ended the half with an Aaron Gillane free and a Flanagan point to lead 1-10 to 0-9.

A superb hook by Hayes on Johnny Coen in the 37th minute was followed up by a point by the centre-forward in what was a real personal purple patch. He added back-to-back points in a four-minute spell where Limerick stretched their lead from one to five.

With many of the individual battles going against them, the Galway management were lethargic in making alterations.

The sight of Joe Cooney not realising where the ball was at it flew over his head and passed the Hogan Stand sideline summed up much about his team’s day.

Tom Morrissey was quick to seize on Gearóid McInerney’s sloppiness to find the net to extend Limerick’s advantage to nine points and it would have been curtains for Galway but for Skehill’s 58th-minute intervention.

Galway, though, through Canning came within five points when substitute Dowling again pounced, making the most of Peter Casey’s fine work in dispossessing Adrian Tuohey.

What followed was a finale fitting of a glorious summer, spearheaded by the hurler of the summer in Canning, but the result was as glorious. Limerick had waited long enough — those nine minutes of additional time was only a speck among the 16,000-plus days they had yearned for Liam MacCarthy Cup.

Their time had come. Their time is now.

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).

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