A determined performance from Limerick saw them crowned All-Ireland U21 hurling champions for the second time in three years.
Ahead by 0-11 to 0-4 at the break, Limerick faced the elements in the second period, but turned in a monstrous effort to ensure Kilkenny never came closer than four points.
Their resolute nature was none more so evident than in the 10 minutes directly after half-time.
It should have been Kilkenny, now backed by the strong wind, setting the tone and chiseling away at the Limerick advantage. Instead, Pat Donnelly’s charges continued to push the tempo and despite three early second-half wides, they continued to ask questions of their opponents at every turn.
A superb Robbie Hanley block down on Luke Scanlon was the catalyst for Aaron Gillane’s sixth point which pushed the winners eight clear. Thirteen minutes of the second-half would pass before Kilkenny added to their account.
The Kilkenny comeback amounted to a run of five points, four supplied from Alan Murphy (all dead-ball efforts), which were interrupted by a solitary Limerick score. It left Limerick 0-15 to 0-11 in front and you weren’t sure how the final five minutes were going to play out.
The young men in green held their nerve, with two scores from Gillane and sub Oisin O’Reilly sealing the issue. Kilkenny’s woes are neatly captured in the stat showing them to have managed just four points from play in 60 minutes of hurling.
As noted above, Limerick were backed by a near gale in the opening half and would have been relatively satisfied with their 0-11 to 0-4 advantage. Of slight concern would have been the eight wides tallied, while Aaron Gillane had two half goal chances. The same player would surely have risen a green flag had he been put through by Cian Lynch on 26 minutes, but the latter opted to take his point.
In fairness, you couldn’t fault Lynch on this instance. Limerick had gone six minutes without a score and had been left frustrated by three wides in succession.
Shane Walsh had Kilkenny on the board inside 22 seconds. It was to prove their last score in 18 minutes as the Munster champions reeled off seven without reply. Aaron Gillane (0-4, two frees), Barry Nash, Peter Casey and Ronan Lynch (free) all scribbled their names onto the scoresheet as the Treatymen wasted little time in asserting themselves.
Eddie Brennan’s charges stemmed the flow, somewhat, thereafter, but the gap remained sufficiently wide at half-time that it was very much advantage Limerick. They never once wavered from there to the finish. Their reward was a sixth All-Ireland U21 crown for the county.
Now, can they translate this latest U21 success to senior level?
A Gillane (0-7, 0-2 frees); R Lynch (0-3 frees), P Casey (0-3 each); C Lynch, B Nash, O O’Reilly, C Boylan (0-1 each).
A Murphy (0-5, 0-4 frees, 0-1 ’65); S Walsh (0-3, 0-2 frees); J Donnelly, B Ryan, L Blanchfield (0-1 each).
E McNamara (Doon); S Finn (Bruff), D Fanning (Pallasgreen), D Joy (Kilmallock); R Lynch (Na Piarsaigh), K Hayes (Kildimo/Pallaskenry), T Grimes (Na Piarsaigh); C Ryan (Pallasgreen), R Hanley (Kilmallock); T Morrissey (Ahane), B Nash (South Liberties), C Lynch (Patrickswell); B Murphy (Doon), A Gillane (Patrickswell), P Casey (Na Piarsaigh).
C Boylan (Na Piarsaigh) for C Lynch (39, inj); A La Touche Cosgrave (Monaleen) for Morrissey (47); O O’Reilly for Murphy (54); L Lyons (Monaleen) for Nash (62)
D Brennan (St Lachtain’s); M Cody (Dunnamaggin), C Delaney (Erin’s Own), N McMahon (Erin’s Own); H Lawlor (O’Loughlin Gaels), J Cleere (Bennettsbridge), T Walsh (Tullaroan); L Scanlon (James Stephens), B Ryan (Graigue Ballycallan); L Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge), S Morrissey (Bennettsbridge), R Leahy (Rower Inistioge); S Walsh (Tullaroan), J Donnelly (Thomastown), J Walsh (Mullinavat).
A Murphy (Glenmore) for Morrissey (25 mins); P Lyng (Rower Inistioge) for J Walsh (HT); E Kenny (Slieverue) for S Walsh (40); M Keoghan (Tullaroan) for Ryan (41); D Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks) for Leahy (44)
Referee: P O’Dwyer (Carlow).