GUINNESS ALL-IRELAND SHC QUARTER-FINAL: FT:
Limerick 0-13 Kilkenny 0-18, Croke Park
Henry Shefflin’s nine point-haul guided Kilkenny through to an All-Ireland SHC semi-final against Galway, after Limerick briefly threatened a comeback in front of a Croke Park attendance of 44,438.
Ballyhale Shamrocks ace Shefflin hit a five-point glut between the nineteenth and 25th-minutes that proved the winning of a quarter-final tie that failed to fire. A goal would have done that, but Limerick’s best chance, netted by Donie Ryan just seconds into the second half, was ruled out for steps.
The Cats, who had captain Peter Barry back from a groin injury, and Young Irelands legend DJ Carey installed at full-forward, were 0-04 to 0-02 in front by the quarter-hour mark.
James O’Brien then tapped over his third championship point for the Shannonsiders, before corner forward Shefflin went on his scoring blitz. The 2004 All-star pointed five times to stretch Kilkenny’s lead out to 0-09 to 0-03.
Brian Cody’s charges confirmed their dominance with points from Tommy Walsh (26 minutes) and Martin Comerford (29), and the Leinster champions were cruising.
Still, TJ Ryan, who badly screwed three frees wide in the opening half, replied with his third point and a late over from Andrew O’Shaughnessy kept Limerick interested for the second half at 0-05 to 0-11 down.
A quiet enough Carey chipped in with his first point, two minutes after the break, to quell Limerick’s fire. If Donie Ryan's goal had not been disallowed, the underdogs may have clicked, but TJ still followed it with an immediate point.
Kilkenny, whether lacking in hunger or unperturbed about Limerick’s chances of a comeback, then sat off and conceded five straight points off the hurls of Niall Moran, Paul O’Grady, TJ Ryan (0-2) and Peter Lawlor.
Ryan’s 48th-minute effort from a free, his fifth over of the afternoon, put just a single point between the sides – 0-11 to 0-12 – but displaying some of the quality that has seen them garner three of the last five Liam McCarthy Cups, Kilkenny pushed on again.
Carey notched his second point on 51 minutes before Shefflin claimed his seventh and eighth points from frees, and the Cats stretched their legs at 0-15 to 0-11 on front.
On 61 minutes, following two Lawlor scores and a second Tommy Walsh point, Henry Shefflin was knocked to the ground for a penalty.
Carey stepped up to take it, rattling it home to the Limerick net, yet Cork referee Ger Harrington ordered it to be retaken due to encroachment. The nine-times All-star opted to point it the second time.
Joe McKenna’s gallant side had little left in the tank by then, and trailing 0-13 to 0-17, they watched the effortless Shefflin flick over a last-minute free to confirm their last-eight exit.
LIMERICK: T Houlihan; D Reale, S Lucey, M Foley; O Moran (capt), B Geary, P Lawlor; P O'Grady, N Moran; D Ryan, J O'Brien, M Cahill; P Kirby, TJ Ryan, A O'Shaughnessy.
KILKENNY: J McGarry; M Kavanagh, J Tennyson, J Ryall; R Mullally, P Barry (capt), JJ Delaney; D Lyng, B Barry; M Comerford, E Larkin, T Walsh; R Power, DJ Carey, H Shefflin.
Referee: Ger Harrington (Cork)