By Eoghan Cormican, Semple Stadium
Limerick 1-20 Galway 0-17
Limerick scored a six-point win over Galway to progress to a first All-Ireland U21 hurling final since 2002.
The key score of this semi-final contest arrived on 50 minutes, Limerick pouncing for the contest’s sole major.
Tom Morrissey created the opening and when the sliotar was returned to the Limerick corner-forward, he found the back of the net with a low strike from the 20-metre line. Credit here also to referee Fergal Horgan who played the advantage given Morrissey was being fouled as he pulled the trigger.
The Treatymen had the better of the second-half, six-points in a seven-minute spell early at the change of ends edging the winners into a lead they would not relinquish.
The two teams returned down the tunnel at half-time deadlocked at 0-10 apiece. Limerick had made much the better start, but failure to add to their tally beyond the 18th minute allowed Galway back into proceedings.
Six unanswered points Jason Flynn (0-4), Shane Cooney and Brian Molloy had the westerners back on level footing, Flynn particularly effective from open play and the dead ball.
The Munster champions will wonder how they did not hold the interval advantage, thundering out of the blocks with four points inside the opening five minutes.
There was no let up from John Kiely’s side and four on the bounce from Gearoid Hegarty, Cian Lynch and two from Tom Morrissey stretched their advantage out to 0-10 to 0-4.
Scorers for Galway: J Flynn (0-7, 0-2 frees, 0-2 '65's, 0-1 sc); B Molloy (0-5); D Nevin (0-2); E Brannigan, S Cooney, C Whelan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Limerick: T Morrissey (1-3); D Dempsey (0-4); C Ryan (0-3); R Lynch (0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 sc); D Byrnes, D O'Donovan (0-2 each); C Lynch, G Hegarty, B Nash (0-1 each).
Galway: G Loughnane (Loughrea); D Croinn (Cappataggle), P Kileen (Tynagh-Abbey-Duniry), B Keane (Clarenbridge); É Burke (St Thomas’), S Cooney (St Thomas’), S Sweeney (Loughrea); K McHugo (Tommie Larkins), D Nevin (Cappataggle); E Brannigan (Rahoon/Newcastle),C Mannion (Ahascragh/Fohenagh), J Flynn (Tommie Larkins); R O’Meara (Portumna), C Whelan (Kinvara), B Molloy (Kilnadeema-Leitrim)
Subs: M Mullins (Gort) for O’Meara (20 mins), J Kennedy (Ardrahan) for Brannigan (42), J Ryan (Loughrea) for McHugo (51), B Burke (Killimordaly) for Kennedy (56).
Limerick: D McCarthy (Glenroe); S Finn (Bruff), R English (Doon), M Casey (Na Piarsaigh); D Byrnes (Patrickswell), B O’Connell (Kildimo Pallaskenry), G Hegarty (St Patrick’s); D O’Donovan (Doon), P Ryan (Doon); B Nash (South Liberties), C Lynch (Patrickswell), D Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh); R Lynch (Na Piarsaigh), C Ryan (Pallasgreen), T Morrissey (Ahane).
Subs: A La Touche-Cosgrave (Monaleen) for Ryan (50), P Casey (Na Piarsaigh) for Nash (51), M O’Callaghan (Knockaderry) for M Casey (59), J Kelliher (Patrickswell) for Morrissey (62).
Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary).