Scoreline: Limerick 3-17, Galway 0-8
The Connacht county had gone into the match as marginal favorites, but the form they showed in a semifinal victory over Wexford was nowhere to be seen as they slumped to a fifth final defeat at this level in six seasons.
Despite some stylish hurling by Richie Murray during the first half, and Ger Farragher’s customary accuracy from frees, Galway were outclassed by their opponents, whose dominance over the last three years must augur well for Limerick’s future at senior level.
Not surprisingly, the winning manager, Dave Keane, has already been appointed as Eamonn Cregan’s successor with the senior panel after becoming the first coach to guide a Limerick team to three All-Ireland championships in a row at any grade.
The suggestion that Galway’s lack of competitive matches in advance of the decider would count against them proved to be alarmingly true. They trailed by 2-10 to 0-4 at the interval and when Andrew O’Shaughnessy guided home his second goal, and his team’s third, soon after the restart, Galway’s humiliation was complete.
To make matters even worse, they then had substitute John P. O’Connell sent off for a dangerous pull on Maurice O’Brien. “The lack of lead-up matches for Galway was definitely a problem,” Keane said. “They didn’t know whether they’d the character to come back or not when they were put under pressure. But we’ve already proved that we have it.”
Certainly, Limerick’s battle to emerge from the Munster championship stood them in good stead. O’Shaughnessy eluded his marker in the eighth minute to fire in a goal and with midfielders Peter Lawlor and Niall Moran in control it was only a matter of time before Mark Keane, who finished with an impressive 1-6, reacted well to steer in a second goal.
“We got scores at the right time,” said Keane, “but we’d lost big leads before, so we told the players at halftime that they had to concentrate and start from scratch again. We got a goal almost immediately and I think that broke Galway’s spirit.”
Without ever having to be at their best, Limerick won the second half by 1-7 to 0-4, and while Galway stuck to their task, they had a difficult job getting past the winners’ full-back, Eugene Mulcahy, who had an outstanding game.
“Nobody thought a three in a row was possible a few years ago,” said Mulcahy, “but this is a very special squad of players and, hopefully, things will now start happening at senior level.”