Motivated by the memory of a mauling from Adare in their first final two years ago, favouritism based on youth and skill was more than justified. Given the boost of a fortuitous goal in the 10th minute and firmly shutting the door on a potential Ahane recovery at the three-quarters stage with a second goal from Shane Dowling, the excellence over their overall display made them deserved winners.
With captain Kieran Bermingham stating they were “laughed at” two years ago and proclaiming “the boys of 2009 are now the men of 2011”,jubilant manager Sean Stack agreed his team had learned a lot in the interim period.
“We were lucky that seven of them were on the Limerick U21 panel this year and six of them played in that hectic Munster final here against Cork,” he said. “Those are things you can’t buy. You have to experience a game like that and be a part of it and grow up.”
Meanwhile in Waterford there were unsavoury scenes at Walsh Park in the SHC semi-final where Ballygunner beat De La Salle 2-10 to 0-11. There was needle and tension in the air from the throw-in and with just three minutes on the clock all hell broke loose following an incident which left Gunners’ scorer-in-chief Pauric Mahony lying on the ground.
Players, substitutes, and even some mentors became involved as referee Michael Wadding strove to restore order. When he finally did, several minutes later, he brandished a straight red card to De La Salle wing forward Paudí Nevin. As the teams retired to the dressing rooms at half-time there were further skirmishes. Crucially though that red card caught up with them and they paid the price.
In the other semi-final Tallow bridged a 26-year gap at rain-lashed Fraher Field, Dungarvan to edge out Ballyduff Upper 0-13 to 0-10.
In the Tipperary SHC semi-finals keeping Lar Corbett scoreless was the winning formula for Clonoulty-Rossmore in their 2-14 to 0-15 victory over Thurles Sarsfield. Four weeks after Kilkenny deprived last year’s hurler of the year a score in the All-Ireland final, Clonoulty-Rossmore followed the same script on their way to avenging the heartache inflicted upon them by Thurles Sarsfields in last year’s final and the 2008 semi-final games.
They now meet Drom-Inch, another team that has felt Sarsfields’ sword in recent years, who beat Mullinahone 1-20 to 0-14 to set up the makings of a captivating county final.
The Kilkenny championship heated up as Ballyhale Shamrocks had to use all their talents to topple neighbours and fierce rivals, Carrickshock in the quarter-final replay of the Kilkenny SHC at Nowlan Park yesterday. Shamrocks won 2-18 to 1-17 to book a place in the semi-finals next Sunday against Kilkenny and Leinster champions, O’Loughlin Gaels, but they had to bring their best game to the table.
Henry Shefflin spent most of last week on a quick visit to New York, but when he touched down inNowlan Park yesterday he just let rip. He was super during the first half, bagging 1-5, and with TJ Reid filling the role of a strong wing man by shooting four points, they rifled Shamrocks into a 1-10 to 0-9 interval lead that wasn’t a bit flattering.
In the other quarter-final O’Loughlin Gaels ran hot and cold before they beat city rivals, Dicksboro by 2-11 to 1-10. The semi-finals will be played at Nowlan Park on Sunday with Ballyhale Shamrocks facing O’Loughlin’s and James Stephens taking on St Martin’s (Muckalee).