All-Ireland champions hold Galway to stalemate

Limerick manager John Kiely and Galway manager Henry Shefflin congratulate each other after the Allianz National Hurling League game at Pearse Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy

Limerick manager John Kiely and Galway manager Henry Shefflin congratulate each other after the Allianz National Hurling League game at Pearse Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy

The Galway senior hurlers will have five weeks without a competitive fixture ahead of their Leinster championship opener against Carlow in late April. They failed to defeat a dogged Limerick side in their final group game in Pearse Stadium.

When Limerick’s Shane O’Brien got his marching orders for removing Seán Linnane’s helmet in a scuffle in the 26th minute, Galway led by a solitary point. They ended the half strongly to extend their lead to three.

Dublin had proven a week earlier that numerical advantage is no guarantee of success, however. Hence, Limerick’s defensive resolve intensified in the second period, with the introduction of Diarmuid Byrnes and William O’Donoghue proving particularly significant.

Galway’s defence could hardly be faulted, but the concession of five frees in the middle third proved their undoing. Byrnes was deadly accurate from a variety of distances and angles. Once Limerick had got their noses in front they were in no mood to let Galway snatch a semi-final berth.

When Gearóid Hegarty, another second half replacement, pointed superbly and Byrnes clipped over his fifth placed ball, Limerick led by two in injury time. Although there was still time for Evan Niland to convert two frees to level matters, Galway were unable to snatch a win and would have been flattered to do so.

Given the absence of Daithí Burke and Conor Whelan, Galway would have been content with their first half showing, but Limerick were also without a host of household names.

Cathal Mannion was back to his lethal best in the inside line, firing over four from play, while his brother Padraic and Ronan Glennon also split the posts from distance. Adam English was having a similar impact on the scoreboard for Limerick, but Galway led by 0-8 to 0-7 when O’Brien was rightly sent off.

David Burke and Gavin Lee were both heavily involved in Galway’s best play, and they added their names to the scorer’s list before half time. Galway’s run of scores dried up notably in the third period however, with Glennon’s second score coming twelve minutes in.

Limerick hit four points on the bounce from the 55th to 62nd minute to put Shefflin’s semi-final ambitions very much in jeopardy, and the fact that Galway only had two second half scorers and two points from play summed up a frustrating afternoon.

GALWAY: D Fahy; J Grealish, F Burke, P Mannion (0-1 ); A Tuohey (0-1 ), C Fahy, R Glennon (0-2 ); D Burke (0-1 ), S Linnane; G Lee (0-2 ), T Monaghan, J Cooney; C Mannion (0-4 ), C Cooney, E Niland (0-6, 4fs ). Subs: B Concannon for Lee (50 ), J Ryan for J Cooney (57 ), D Morrissey for Tuohey (63 ), D O’Shea for D Burke (68 ).

LIMERICK: N Quaid; F O’Connor, M Casey, B Nash; C O’Neill, D Hannon, C Coughlan; D Reidy (0-1 ), B Murphy; S O’Brien (0-1 ), C Lynch, T Morrissey (0-2 ); A Gillane (0-2fs ), S Flanagan, A English (0-5 ). Subs: D Byrnes (0-5fs ) for Coughlan (35 ), P Casey for Flanagan (47 ), W O’Donoghue for Murphy (47 ), G Hegarty (0-1 ) for Gillane (57 ), A Costello for O’Connor (63 ), R Lyons for M Casey (65 ), G Mulcahy for Reidy (67 ).

Referee: T Walsh (Waterford ).

 

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