As it was, with Murroe-Boher’s outstanding Michael Ryan in lethal form in the left corner of attack, Limerick just about survived to qualify for a semi-final meeting against Cork, while Kerry go on to meet Clare in a backdoor qualifier.
Limerick began strongly and led 1-3 to 0-1 after 10 minutes, their goal a peach, taken on the run by Ryan after his marker, Bryan Murphy had slipped. Even at this stage, however, it was obvious that Limerick were going to have their hands full with a talented Kerry side, backboned by the Causeway Comprehensive side that has done so well in recent years.
The visitors were facing into a strong breeze in that opening half but gradually worked their way into the game, and with points from Shane Dunne, Chris McCarthy and the hard-working Padraig Boyle, allied to centre-back Brendan Brosnan’s long-range free-taking, they trailed by just six points at the break, 1-8 to 0-5.
However it was five minutes into the second half before the game really took off. Limerick began the excitement, a goal in 30 seconds from wing-forward Dan Morrissey, pouncing on the break after Shane Dowling’s goal-bound shot had been body-blocked by Dougie Fitzell, giving them what looked like a commanding eight-point lead.
Then it was Kerry’s turn. Three superbly struck frees from Shane Dunne, around a coolly taken goal by Paudie Boyle (now operating at full-forward), and it was very much game on, just a goal between them (2-8 to 1-8), plenty time remaining.
But Limerick responded well. Two points, one each from wing-forward Jake Mulcahy and the outstanding Michael Ryan (he finished with 1-5 from play), had them back to five points in front, but again Kerry came, and another two Dunne frees brought the deficit back to a goal. Thus it would be at the finish, and how Kerry could have done with either of two Shane Dunne rockets hitting the target! The first was in the 50th minute, leaving a vapour trail as it screamed across the goal and just outside the post, the second was in the 60th minute, another close-range first-time effort, but was deflected out for a 65, converted for a point by Brendan Brosnan.
Scorers for Limerick: M. Ryan 1-5; J. Fitzgibbon 0-4 (all frees); D. Morrissey 1-0; S. Dowling 0-2; J. Aherne, J. Mulcahy, 0-1 each.
Kerry: S. Dunne 0-6 (0-5 frees); P. Boyle 1-1; B. Brosnan 0-4 (0-3 frees, 0-1 65); C. McCarthy, S. Weir, 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: E. Webb; A. Dempsey, M. O’Loughlin, B. Hannigan; T. Ryan, D. Hannon, K. O’Donnell (c); C. O’Riordan, M. O’Connell; D. Morrissey, W. Hickey, J. Mulcahy; S. Dowling, J. Fitzgibbon, M. Ryan.
Subs: M. Fitzgibbon (Hickey 25); Mark Ryan (Mulcahy 37); J. Aherne (Morrissey 45); D. Murphy (O’Connell 52).
KERRY: N. Leen; B. Murphy, S. Dowling, D. Fitzell; T. Maunsell, B. Brosnan, T. Barrett; S. Weir, J. Bowler; P. Boyle, T. Doyle, M. Delaney; C. McCarthy, A. Fealey, S. Dunne.
Subs: D. Collins (Maunsell 43); D. Casey (Fealey 47); T. Moore (Bowler 54).
Referee: D. Fox (Clare).