Galway will contest next weekend’s Allianz HL Division 1 final after staving off a poor Limerick challenge in the first of this afternoon’s semis, writes Eoghan Cormican at the Gaelic Grounds.
Conor Cooney delivered the game-changing score on 56 minutes when getting goal side of Richie English and collecting Cathal Mannion’s delivery. He still had a bit of work to do but beat the onrushing Nickie Quaid with a batted effort.
That goal sent the favourites 1-15 to 1-9 clear and arriving as it did off the back of three unanswered Limerick points, it put a fair dent in their comeback bid. Indeed, John Kiely’s troops pretty much folded thereafter, failing to score for a quarter of an hour and allowing Galway hit five points without reply following Cooney’s goal.
Limerick’s starting six forwards managed just three points from play between them, indicative of the threat – or lack thereof – that they posed.
Galway enjoyed the backing of a slight wind and were deserving of their four-point interval lead. More telling was that the Tribesmen had posted 13 scores to Limerick’s six. They also had three goal chances in the first quarter, Richie English getting in the way of Conor Cooney’s shot, while Mike Casey twice denied Conor Whelan.
The latter was part of a Galway full-forward line that finished the half with eight points from play – Conor Cooney and Cathal Mannion both hit three apiece.
Having raced 0-7 to 0-3 clear, the visitors’ lead was severely eroded following a kicked William O’Donoghue goal on 20 minutes, the score set up by a David Dempsey flick which put three Galway defenders on the back foot. John Kiely’s charges, who finished the opening period with seven wides, didn’t build on the score and it was effectively cancelled out by white flags from Johnny Coen and two Canning frees. Canning had an indifferent half what with four wides and a further dead ball effort which came back down off the post.
He fared better in the second-half with three further frees and a beauty off the hurl five minutes from time. By that stage, the Limerick crowd were gathering for home. Next weekend will see the Tribesmen feature in the league decider for the first time since 2010.
Scorers for Galway: C Cooney (1-4); J Canning (0-7, 0-6 frees); C Mannion (0-4); C Whelan (0-2); J Coen, P Mannion, D Burke, T Monaghan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Limerick: S Dowling (0-5, 0-4 frees); W O’Donoghue (1-0); B Nash (0-2); D Byrnes, D Dempsey, C Lynch, J Fitzgibbon (0-1 each).
Galway: C Callanan; A Tuohy, J Hanbury, A Harte; P Mannion, G McInerney, Daithí Burke; J Coen, David Burke; J Cooney, J Canning, P Brehony; C Whelan, C Mannion, C Cooney.
Subs: T Monaghan for Brehony (54 mins); P Killeen for Hanbury (55); N Burke for J Cooney (63); J Flynn for Whelan (66); S Loftus for D Burke (68)
Limerick: N Quaid; R English, R McCarthy, M Casey; D Byrnes, D Hannon, S Hickey; A Dempsey, W O’Donoghue; S Dowling, D Dempsey, G Hegarty; G Mulcahy, K Hayes, C Lynch.
Subs: G O’Mahony for Hannon (16 mins, inj); S Finn for Hickey (38, in); B Nash for Mulcahy (49); J Fitzgibbon for D Dempsey, J Ryan for A Dempsey (both 53);
Referee: P O’Dwyer (Carlow).