Limerick dethrone Galway after thrilling Croke Park finish
LIMERICK dug deep in Croke Park this afternoon to hold off reigning champions Galway and win their first All-Ireland SHC final in 45 years.
After a scintillating summer of hurling Championship action, a final that had failed to live up to expectations exploded into life in the final 10 minutes as the Connacht men cut a 68th-minute eight-point deficit to just one in injury-time.
The Treaty were quickest out of the traps and led 1-10 to 0-9 at half-time thanks to a goal from Graeme Mulcahy that raised hopes John Kiely’s side could break the duck of five All-Ireland final defeats since that last success in 1973
It was the first time Galway had trailed by more than a point at the interval all summer and, in all honesty, they were lucky it was that close as Limerick had hit 11 wides to their 10.
Limerick pushed on after the break and Kyle Hayes fired over three points in quick succession to stretch their lead to 1-15 to 0-10 by the 45th minute.
Joe Canning - one of only three starting Galway forwards to score from play - sparked a mini revival with a free and a point but, when Tom Morrissey robbed Gearoid McInerney of possession and buried the ball to the net, the result looked all but decided.
Then came the real fightback. Conor Whelan fashioned a goal and Canning put over a free. An injury to James Skehill in the Galway goal meant there’d be eight minutes of injury-time. When Canning roofed a 20-metre free to bring the margin down to two, four of those minutes still remained.
When Niall Burke pointed a minute later, Galway were somehow only a point down with plenty of time to completely extinguish the Limerick lead.
However, Graeme Mulcahy's 77th minute point for the challengers was priceless and rendered Canning's late pointed ’65 academic. A final throw of the dice from inside his own half was just too big an ask for the Portumna man and the Treaty finally broke their duck.