GAA Hurling All Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final – Kilkenny 4-16 Limerick 1-16

Henry Shefflin gets Cats back in the groove

Report from the Irish Independent newspaper

BUSINESS as usual — Kilkenny are Croke Park-bound in August for a 16th successive year. Galway raised doubts about their well-being in the Leinster final, presenting Limerick with a template to maximise their prospects of reaching the All-Ireland semi-final but after matching Kilkenny for 45 minutes, they couldn’t quicken with the black and amber’s sudden burst of acceleration. Kilkenny outscored Limerick by 2-5 to 0-0 between the 43rd and 56th minutes, effectively killing off a contest that never reached the excitement levels of the opening quarter-final at Semple Stadium. Ultimately, it was a case of Kilkenny gradually winding up for the big press before squeezing the resistance from a Limerick team that learned an awful lot in a progressive season.

Limerick aren’t quite top-four material as yet but are making advances under John Allen. It was their bad luck that the quarter-final draw paired them with a Kilkenny team on a pride-retrieval mission after their worst Leinster final defeat for 17 years. Still, it also presented Limerick with an opportunity to make a bold statement about themselves, a possibility that looked within their range when they headed into the second half only a point behind (2-7 to 1-9) after playing against the wind. However, it all went wrong for Limerick in the third quarter as Kilkenny asserted themselves across every line, setting Limerick an unreachable target. Kilkenny had to play out the final 12 minutes with 14 men after Richie Hogan was sent off by referee Michael Wadding on a straight red card for pulling across Sean Tobin in a clash near the sideline. It may have looked more serious than it actually was but, after consulting with his linesman, Wadding flashed red.

In terms of yesterday’s game it carried no great significance as Kilkenny led by 10 points at the time and were well capable of defending it with depleted forces but it could prove costly next month as Hogan is automatically ruled out of the All-Ireland semi-final clash with Tipperary on August 19. Kilkenny have concerns too over Richie Power, who was forced off after taking a thumping tackle as he galloped at the heart of the Limerick defence just before half-time. It was certainly a day he won’t remember with any great fondness as he had struggled earlier with his free-taking, driving three wide. Remarkably, the umpires deemed his third effort a point before having their minds changed by the timely intervention of a linesman.

Shefflin took over the free-taking duties but missed two before finally finding his range. He got into his rhythm from open play much quicker, poaching 2-2 off the Limerick defence in the opening 20 minutes. It was a crucial contribution as he was the only Kilkenny forward going really well at that stage, although Aidan Fogarty, Colin Fennelly and substitute TJ Reid would later play their way into the game to good effect. Shefflin’s first goal, scored in the 16th minute, cancelled out David Breen’s goal for Limerick four minutes earlier, while his second, in the 20th minute, put Kilkenny a point clear. Still, Limerick would have been quite pleased with their first-half performance, which stretched the Kilkenny defence right to the limits.

Quick deliveries into attacking channels brought Shane Dowling, Graeme Mulcahy and Declan Hannon into play quite regularly and if the passing had been a little more accurate Limerick might well have got in for a few more goals. However, it was all very different in the second half as Kilkenny secured the approach routes, with Tommy Walsh, JJ Delaney and Kieran Joyce especially effective. They had conceded a rather needless point late in the first half when goal-keeper David Herity was penalised for being outside the small square with a puck-out and, from the resulting throw-in, Hannon pointed. At the time it looked quite significant, suggesting that it could turn out to be one of those days when the vital breaks went against them. Kilkenny must have harboured concerns at half-time because they hadn’t really hurled with anything like the fluency one would have expected as they sought to put the memory of the Leinster final defeat behind them.

Their fans had travelled in large numbers to support them in the championship re-launch but it was their Limerick counterparts who felt happier at the break. Eoin Larkin put Kilkenny two points clear on the re-start but David Breen and Tobin fired over excellent points to bring the side level. It was at that stage that Kilkenny’s vast experience and craft made a decisive intervention. Michael Fennelly and Michael Rice asserted themselves around midfield; the half-back line closed down their opponents and when the ball was worked forward, Shefflin and Co had the measure of the Limerick defence.

Kilkenny scored four points before killing off the game with goals from Fogarty and Colin Fennelly in the 54th and 56th minutes respectively. Limerick’s challenge had been squashed and not even the bonus of an extra man could inspire them on the run-in. They won plenty of possession but couldn’t manoeuvre their way close enough to get strikes at Herity in the Kilkenny goal. So then, Kilkenny’s re-organisation is going to plan but they will know that a much-improved performance will be required if they are to beat Tipperary. However, that’s for another day while yesterday was all about re-establishing a rhythm after being blown well off course by Galway.

Shefflin continues to come ever closer to the imperious presence he can be at his very best; Walsh had his most effective game of the season while Michael Fennelly, Rice and Delaney will benefit from the outing as they play their way back after injuries. In a sense then it was a workmanlike performance by Kilkenny, one that will definitely stand to them. Their supporters would have liked a more coherent structure in the first half but with Limerick unloading so much energy into their game in that period it was never going to be easy for Kilkenny. However, they kept their patience and when the opportunities arose in the second half, they finished them with aplomb. Kilkenny have taken a different route than usual to the semi-final but that’s no concern now. They’re back on track and looking very much like a side who will improve. That’s ominous for the other three contenders as Croke Park in August beckons.

Scorers — Kilkenny: H Shefflin 2-6 (4f), C Fennelly, A Fogarty 1-2 each, R Power 0-2 (1 ’65’ 1f), T Walsh, R Hogan, M Fennelly, E Larkin 0-1 each. Limerick: S Dowling (3f), D Hannon (2f) 0-4 each, G Mulcahy 0-2, D Breen 1-1, N Moran, P O’Brien, S Tobin, K Downes, T Quaid 0-1 each.

Kilkenny — D Herity 7; P Murphy 7, JJ Delaney 8, J Tyrrell 7; T Walsh 8, K Joyce 7, R Doyle 7; M Fennelly 7, M Rice 7; R Hogan 6, R Power 7, A Fogarty 8; C Fennelly 8, E Larkin 6, H Shefflin 9. Subs: TJ Reid 7 for Power (35+3), M Ruth for Fogarty (66), C Buckley for Larkin (66).

Limerick — N Quaid 7; S Walsh 6, R McCarthy 8, T Condon 7; W McNamara 7, D O’Grady 6, G O’Mahony 6; J Ryan 6, P O’Brien 7; D Hannon 7, S Dowling 7, D Breen 6; G Mulcahy 7, N Moran 6, S Tobin 6. Subs: S Hickey 7 for Condon (37), K Downes 7 for Breen (56), P Browne 6 for Dowling (60), T Quaid for Tobin (64).

Ref — M Wadding (Waterford)

 

Limerick melt in 12-minute maelstrom

Kilkenny 4-16 Limerick 1-16

By Diarmuid O’Flynn for the Irish Examiner newspaper

At half-time in yesterday’s All-Ireland hurling quarter-final in showery Semple Stadium, a shock looked like a very real possibility, Limerick belying their massive underdog tag with a first-half display of poise and class, trailing at the break by just a single point (2-7 to 1-9). They’d played into a stiff breeze to boot. Even seven minutes into the second half, that shock still looked likely, Limerick easily containing the anticipated Kilkenny backlash after Brian Cody’s half-time tongue-lashing. Points from team captain David Breen and corner-forward Seanie Tobin in reply to a point gifted to Kilkenny captain Eoin Larkin, had the teams level in the 42nd minute, Limerick poised to drive on.

Then it happened, the maelstrom. Twelve minutes of mayhem, 12 minutes during which Limerick lost their way in Semple Stadium, 12 minutes during which Kilkenny found their true selves and just like that, 2-8 to 1-11 became 4-13 to 1-11, Kilkenny notching 2-5 without reply. Game lost, game won, game over. Limerick continued to battle, and a straight red card for Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan for an out-of-character pull across Seanie Tobin in the 56th minute gave them hope. They managed a series of points but goals were what was required and against a defence in which Tommy Walsh was masterful at wing-back, JJ Delaney suffocating at full-forward, and yet another veteran, Jackie Tyrrell, was back to his bone-crunching best, those goals were never going to come.

Having mentioned the old guard, one must single out the three younger guys in that Kilkenny defence also for praise. Paul Murphy has blossomed into one of the best corner-backs in the land, wing-back Richie Doyle becomes more impressive with every game, while centre-back Kieran Joyce, thrown in at the deep end here after a late injury to Brian Hogan, did a great job, well on top, in the second half especially. Limerick had looked so good in that first half. Shane Dowling opened the scoring inside a minute with a pointed free, David Breen goaled spectacularly with an angled drive in the 12th minute, following good work by Graeme Mulcahy, and they were full value for their one-goal lead (1-3 to 0-3) in the 16th minute, Kilkenny looking very much at odds with themselves as they struggled to come to terms with the ferocity of Limerick’s play, full-back Richie McCarthy typifying their effort with a mighty display.

Not for the first time in his 14-season career it fell to Henry Shefflin to relieve the pressure. Two goals and two points Shefflin scored in that first half, and chart-topper though he is in all-time championship scoring, that 2-2 (the second goal truly magical, a soft screw-shot from an acute angle spinning into the net) is probably the most valuable he has ever scored in any one game. It gave Kilkenny a lifeline, helped them to that slim one-point half-time lead, their hopes still very much alive. That second half was all about those 12 minutes. It started with an Aidan Fogarty point, though there should in fact have been a free out for Limerick following a foul by Shefflin. Next up was a Colin Fennelly point, two frees pointed by Shefflin (Richie Power had been taken off just before half-time, victim of a perfectly legitimate but crunching shoulder from Wayne McNamara), another Fogarty point, before the double-whammy.

Two goals in just over a minute, two goals in which the last line of Limerick’s defence was left cruelly exposed. First it was Michael Fennelly finding Fogarty with a terrific long-range pass, no-one to beat but Nicky Quaid, Aidan with time to move into the 13m line totally unopposed and pick his spot. That was the 54th minute, made the score 3-13 to 1-11; a minute later, the second goal, again the inside line caught napping, Eoin Larkin throwing out a lovely handpass to the flying Colin Fennelly, his rocket giving Quaid absolutely no chance. Such a pity it ended as it did for Limerick but that’s Kilkenny, that’s what they’re capable of doing to any team that loses its concentration for even a few minutes. Limerick will be back, Kilkenny are back and even with the two Richies (Power and Hogan) now set to miss the All-Ireland semi-final, nobody in Tipperary should be counting any chickens yet.

Scorers for Kilkenny: H Shefflin 2-6 (four frees); C Fennelly 1-2; A Fogarty 1-2; R Power 0-2 (1f, 1 65); T Walsh, M Fennelly, E Larkin, R Hogan, 0-1 each.

Scorers for Limerick: D Breen 1-1; D Hannon 0-4 (2f); S Dowling 0-4 (3f); G Mulcahy 0-2; P O’Brien, N Moran, S Tobin, K Downes, T Quaid, 0-1 each.

Subs for Kilkenny: TJ Reid (Power inj. 35+1); C Buckley (Fogarty 66); M Ruth (Larkin inj. 66).

Subs for Limerick: S Hickey (Condon inj. 37); K Downes (Breen 56); P Browne (Dowling 60); T Quaid (Tobin 64).

Referee: M Wadding (Waterford)

 

Kilkenny 4-16 Limerick 1-16

Report from the RTE.ie web site

Kilkenny survived a Semple Stadium battle with Limerick to progress to the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship semi-finals on a scoreline of 4-16 to 1-16. David Breen drilled in a first-half Limerick goal, but Henry Shefflin responded with two Kilkenny goals in the space of three minutes. The Cats led by 2-07 to 0-09 at half-time, and added further goals through Aidan Fogarty and Colin Fennelly. Kilkenny had Richie Hogan sent off, but staged a dominant finish.

This was not vintage Kilkenny, but with a mouth-watering semi-final clash with Tipperary to look forward to, Brian Cody’s men appear to be the team to beat. In front of a bumper crowd of 38,116, Shefflin swept over two early wind-assisted points from play, and Aidan Fogarty smashed a shot against the crossbar, but Limerick remained on level terms with points from Shane Dowling and Niall Moran. And the Shannonsiders stunned the All-Ireland champions with a 12th-minute goal. It was Graeme Mulcahy who carved the opening for David Breen to give David Herity no chance with an angled finish.

But that man Shefflin responded with two Kilkenny goals. In the 17th minute, he pounced to drill the ball to the net after goalkeeper Nickie Quaid had failed to gather. Three minutes later, Colin Fennelly created the opening for Shefflin to spin a delicate shot past Quaid for a one-point lead. Limerick responded with scores from Dowling and Mulcahy to bring the sides level for the fourth time, and they denied the Cats with some excellent defending from Stephen Walsh and Richie McCarthy. Breen’s shot was stopped by Herity but was adjudged by an umpire to have gone over the bar for another leveller, but Kilkenny, with Tommy Walsh lifting his game, went in at the break with a slender 2-07 to 0-09 lead.

They had lost Richie Power to injury just before the interval, but Eoin Larkin, Aidan Fogarty and Colin Fennelly added their names to the scoresheet, while Shefflin was denied his hat-trick by Quaid’s excellent stop. Walsh was now in defiant form at the back for the Cats, and Limerick, with the wind now in their backs, were struggling to get through a tenacious Kilkenny defence which had tightened up significantly. The Cats opened up an 11-point lead by the 55th minute with two quick-fire goals. Michael Fennelly found Fogarty in acres of space and he blasted in his side’s third goal. And less than a minute later, Colin Fennelly, a star performer in the second half, smashed home a magnificent goal, leaving no way back for John Allen’s side.

Richie Hogan received a straight red card in the 57th minute for a wild swing across Sean Tobin, and Limerick responded with a run of scores, three of them from Declan Hannon. But the Kilkenny defence closed up again, and they finished the job off with Shefflin bringing his personal tally to 2-06 with an injury-time free.

Kilkenny scorers: H Shefflin 2-06 (0-04f), C Fennelly, A Fogarty 1-02 each, R Power 0-02 (2f), R Hogan, E Larkin, M Fennelly, T Walsh 0-01 each.

Limerick scorers: D Breen 1-03, S Dowling 0-04 (3f), D Hannon 0-03 (2f), G Mulcahy 0-02, S Tobin, N Moran, K Downes, T Quaid 0-01 each.

Kilkenny: D Herity; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, J Tyrell; T Walsh, K Joyce, R Doyle; M Fennelly, M Rice; E Larkin, R Power, H Shefflin; C Fennelly, R Hogan, A Fogarty.

Subs used: TJ Reid for Power, C Buckley for Fogarty, M Ruth for Larkin.

Limerick: N Quaid; S Walsh, R McCarthy, T Condon; W McNamara, D O’Grady, G O’Mahony; J Ryan, P O’Brien; S Dowling, D Breen , D Hannon; G Mulcahy, N Moran, S Tobin.

Subs used: S Hickey for Condon, K Downes for Breen, P Browne for Dowling, T Quaid for Tobin.

Referee: Michael Wadding (Waterford)

Match Preview

KILKENNY v LIMERICK

Kilkenny are back in the quarter-finals for the first time since 2007 (provincial champions played quarter-finals back then). Their last appearance in the quarter-finals, having been beaten in Leinster, was in 2004 when they beat Clare in a replay. Limerick are appearing in the quarter-finals for the seventh time, having won two of their six outings. Limerick have scored the remarkable total of 18-84 in their four championship games to date. They played Kilkenny in the 2005 quarter-final, losing by five points. Their last championship clash with Kilkenny was in the 2007 All-Ireland final when they lost by seven points. Kilkenny have never lost in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

How they got here

Kilkenny

Kilkenny 2-21 Dublin 0-9 (Leinster semi-final)

Galway 2-21 Kilkenny 2-11 (Leinster final)

Average For: 2-16 Average Against 1-15

Top Scorers

Henry Shefflin ….1-18 (0-16 frees, 0-1 ‘65’)

Richie Power…….1-5

TJ Reid…………….1-2

R Hogan…………..1-2

Limerick

Tipperary 2-20 Limerick 1-19 (Munster quarter-final)

Limerick 6-21 Laois 1-11 (Qualifier)

Limerick 8-26 Antrim 1-15 (Qualifier)

Limerick 3-18 Clare 1-20 (Qualifier)

Average For: 4-23 Average Against: 1-17

Top Scorers

Shane Dowling……4-33 (0-23 frees, 0-2 ‘65’s)

Niall Moran………..5-6

Graeme Mulcahy…3-12

Last Five Championship Clashes

2007: Kilkenny 2-19 Limerick 1-15 (All-Ireland final)

2005: Kilkenny 0-18 Limerick 0-13 (All-Ireland quarter-final)

1974: Kilkenny 3-19 Limerick 1-13 (All-Ireland final)

1973: Limerick 1-21 Kilkenny 1-14 (All-Ireland final)

1940: Limerick 3-7 Kilkenny 1-7 (All-Ireland final)

How they fared in quarter-finals

Kilkenny

2007: Kilkenny 3-22 Galway 1-18

2006: Kilkenny 2-22 Galway 3-14

2005: Kilkenny 0-18 Limerick 0-13

2004: Kilkenny 1-11 Clare 0-9 (replay)

2004: Kilkenny 1-13 Clare 1-13 (draw)

1997: Kilkenny 4-15 Galway 3-16

Played 5, Won 5, Drew 1.

Limerick

2011: Dublin 3-13 Limerick 0-18

2009: Limerick 2-18 Dublin 1-17

2007: Limerick 1-23 Clare 1-16

2006: Cork 0-19 Limerick 0-18

2005: Kilkenny 0-18 Limerick 0-13

2001: Wexford 4-10 Limerick 2-15

Played 6, Won 2, Lost 4