By Pierce O’Reilly
Kilkenny 2-19, Limerick 3-12
Limerick were stunned at Gaelic Park by a much slicker and much more economical Leinster side in the second game at New York GAA headquarters on Sunday.
The Cats had bundles of determination from the off and with Vinny Norton hurling a great game at midfield, the attack always had plenty of possession. Limerick had three Cork imports for the game, and while the names and All-Ireland medal holders were prominent early on, they wilted near the finish when the Cats rallied.
John Browne and Niall Ronan lined out for Cork against Limerick the previous week and it was obvious the week’s mourning had taken it’s toll. Browne was switched early from midfield to marshal the lively Nigel Skeahan, while Ronan hit most of his scores from placed balls.
Kilkenny, who were defeated by Westmeath a week ago, were a transformed side on Sunday. They moved the ball well from defense and with Moore, Norton and Nigel Skeahan finding their range they took an early lead. Limerick were raging favorites to win yet they stuttered and stalled to the finish line. Browne kept their hopes alive early on when he rattled the net from 25 yards out, yet he was plowing a lone furrow for long periods.
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The second half produced some exciting hurling, with both sides swapping early scores. Limerick were still lethargic and lackluster and looked like a team that thought they’d win by turning up. Kilkenny had other ideas, and when Skeahan struck for goal number two, they took the lead. Moore added two further points and Limerick had let their grip on the game slip.
The Leinster men were fitter and much more organized in defense, where Liam Byrne was prominent from the start. At midfield Norton moved the ball with panache, while Skeahan and Moore were the target men up front. Limerick will go back to the drawing room disheartened. Maurice Foley will have some harsh words for his troops.
Kilkenny: K. Corbett, L. Byrne, J. Nolan, K. McKay 0-1, A. Cummins 0-1, B. Ryan, V. Norton 0-2, R. Moore 0-6, D. Mason 0-2, M. Burke, N. Skeahan 1-6, J. Doyle, P. Bolger 1-0 Subs: P. Breen 0-1, S. Grady.
Limerick: F. Flood, J. Riordan, J. McSweeney, M. Cosgrave, D. Fitzgibbon, J. Brown 1-1, T. Simms, A. Walsh 0-1, D. Dunne, N. Ronan 2-6, T. O’Callaghan 0-1, D. Simms 0-3, B. Cagney. Subs: M. Burns, W. Nash, D. Connolly, C. McCarthy. E. Sheilds.