It was mentioned here not so long ago that when Cork defeated Kilkenny in the 1999 All Ireland Final the final score was 0-13 to 0-12. With the way the game has evolved in the interim, it’s not uncommon for teams to have such tallies wracked up well before half time.
For anybody hoping to stay within the same parish as Limerick such efficiency is non negotiable. Though even that may not afford sanctuary. By the end of the first half yesterday, Cork had notched 1-11, one more point than Mark Landers and co needed 22 years ago. Yet the engraver probably had L.U.I.M. etched onto Liam Mac Carthy’s underbelly before he went for his cup of tea.
Also in the recent past, the phrase ‘Hurling from another galaxy’ was employed in this space in reference to the Kilkenny side between 2006 and 2009. Temptation is to feel we may be in another era of galactic discovery as this Limerick side continue to sow the seeds of greatness. If the adage about a good start being half the battle holds any water, then surely Limerick had three quarters of their retention mission accomplished by the change of ends after smashing 3-18 past a shell shocked Rebel rearguard.
On any other day, in any other era, Gearoid Hegarty would surely have been unassailable in terms of Man Of The Match selection. Today, however, he would probably be quite content to be in a very crowded pack. Aaron Gillane could be entitled to equally forensic consideration, having registeresd 1-6 in the 75 minute exhibition by John Kiely’s side.
However, chances are, as I’m typing this Cian Lynch has been awarded the individual gong having produced a performance worthy of any era or comparison with any pillars of the game of any era. When it’s considered the man from Patrickswell’s contribution of five points from play was merely an adendum to his all round brilliance, it gives an indication of the majesty with which the redheaded bltzkreig illuminated the greatest stage.
Having scored 2-32, the forward sextet and indeed the auxilliaries who came on in their stead may well prompt a lot of the headlines, but none of what they do would be possible without the miserly excellence of the Limerick defence. They were faced by a firing squad loaded with proven and potential hitmen.
Yes Patrick Horgan is still the fulcrum thereof – he tapped over 0-13 today – but he now has a backup batallion brimming with potential RPG shooters, Seamie Harnedy, Robbie O’Flynn, Jack O’Connor, Shane Kingston, Alan Cadogan, Shane Barrett and Declan Dalton.
Mind you, it’s a huge commendation to the completeness of this Limerick side that even though Kieran Kingston’s charges accumulated 1-22 they couldn’t get within an ass’s roar of the maruaders from the Treaty City. It was mentioned during commentary that Sean Finn has been an All Star for the past four years. You can chalk up number five.
He will almost certainly be joined by Dan Morrissey, Diarmuid Byrnes and Kyle Hayes. That’s without venturing further upfield where Darragh O’Donovan, Gearoid Hegarty, Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan and Peter Casey were continually imperious throughout the season.
Though consoling praise or proclamations of bright futures won’t cut much ice on the banks of the Lee at present, you couldn’t but feel sorry for them. Perhaps Patrick Horgan and Shane Kingston in particular. In the case of the latter, being the son of the manager isn’t an easy station. However, there would surely have been no objections to his starting
Having hit seven points when introduced in the semi final, nepotism was taken off the table. There would surely have been no objections to his starting with him having posted seven points when he came on against Kilkenny. Even less after he blasted past Nicky Quaide to level up early on after Hegarty’s first goal. Thereafter, nothing he or his colleagues did was going to be enough to fight the raging Shannon tide. There is hope for the Rebel army, mind you. In abundance.
Not only because of the infusion of young talent there is bound to be with the county mopping up underage titles nonchalantly of late, maybe even more so out of an inclination that some of those already in situ have further to go in their developmental journey. For that reason, I feel it’s imperative that Kingston Snr, Diarmuid O’Sullivan, Ger Cunningham and Horgan hang around for another while at least. It’s a long road that has no turn but in the meantime they – and the rest of hurling – will need all their resources to quell the green wave. Good luck with that!