Limerick 2-24 Galway 1-18: Holders stay on course for four in a row by subduing Tribesmen

Cathal Mannion celebrates his first-half Galway goal
Image caption,Cathal Mannion’s goal helped Galway lead by six points before Limerick fought back to trail by only one at half-time

Limerick, after their four-week break following their Munster Final win over Clare, were slow out of the blocks in Saturday’s semi-final but looked an unstoppable force as they found top gear in the second half.

Gillane was named man of the match after producing yet another of his goal salvos but there were stars all over the pitch in green jerseys.

His fellow full-forward Seamus Flanagan tormented the Galway defence in the second half as he dropped deeper to wreak havoc with midfielder Darragh O’Donovan, Kyle Hayes, Diarmuid Byrnes and Gearoid Hegarty among other who excelled.

Conor Whelan’s early target man brilliance played a big part in Galway forging a six-point advantage with free-taker Evan Niland contributing seven of their scores in the opening 25 minutes as they led by six.

But that was as good as it got for the Tribesmen as Limerick wrested control in the 10 minutes before half-time despite trailing by one at the interval.

Limerick win despite captain Hannon’s absence

‘We had to show patience’ – Limerick boss Kiely

The absence of injured Limerick centre-back and captain Declan Hannon was a big talking point before the game and for a time, it felt as though the Shannonsiders were indeed missing their skipper.

Gillane’s fifth minute goal, after he outjumped Daithi Burke to field a long ball from Tom Morrissey, put the champions 1-1 to 0-2 ahead after five minutes but three Niland frees, in addition to Whelan’s superb score from play, had Galway 0-6 to 1-2 up by the ninth minute.

With Sean Linnane doing well on Gearoid Hegarty at that stage, Limerick were struggling for fluency and they found themselves four down by the 15th minute as Kevin Cooney’s superb ground pass released a charging Cathal Mannion, who angled a stunning strike past Nickie Quaid.

Three unanswered points helped extend Galway’s advantage to six and while Byrnes pointed in the 30th minute to end a period of uncharacteristic Limerick wides, Galway had a glorious chance to push eight ahead when they created a goal chance a minute later but Brian Concannon’s shot was blocked by Mike Casey’s outstretched stick.

From that moment, Limerick dominated the contest as they outscored the Tribesmen 0-5 to 0-1 during the remaining six minutes of the opening period.

Limerick's Seamus Flanagan attempts to burst away from Galway's Sean Linnane at Croke Park
Image caption,Seamus Flanagan (left) was among Limerick’s stars as the All-Ireland champions took control against Galway

Flanagan’s sensational second half was started by him levelling within seconds of the restart and while Whelan restored Galway’s advantage, that was the last time they led.

Gillane’s second goal had an element of good fortune about it as his initial point-blank shot – after he had been brilliantly set up by David Reidy – came back off the woodwork, only for Galway’s Padraic Mannion to divert the sliotar back to the Limerick forward, who made no mistake at the second time of asking as he first-timed to the roof of the net.

After looking ravenous for possession in the first half, Galway were now struggling to keep pace with the champions.

A three-point Limerick lead on 52 minutes became seven by the hour mark as superb efforts from play off the sticks of Hayes, Hegarty and Peter Casey were followed by a Reidy score from all of 90 minutes.

Substitutes Graeme Mulcahy and Cathal O’Neill were among Limerick’s scores in injury-time as the margin was nine by full-time to complete the total turnaround in the contest.

Subs: T Monaghan (0-1) for Glennon 51, C Cooney for S Linnane 54, L Collins for B Concannon 63, F Burke for C Fahy 67.

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