All-Ireland IHC final: Cats see off Limerick

August 30, 2008
Kilkenny 1-16 Limerick 0-13 By Cóilín Duffy Kilkenny's ambition to keep their All-Ireland quadruple hopes intact got a major boost at Semple Stadium in Thurles on Saturday, when the Cats captured their first All-Ireland Intermediate title since 1973, following a hard-earned victory against a determined Limerick side. All-Ireland titles in other grades may be commonplace for the Cats, but bridging one of the longest gaps in their proud history was something which Intermediate manager Pat Hoban was determined to produce. A free flowing and entertaining game of hurling was produced by two eager sides, with just one yellow card in a fine sporting encounter. This game hinged on a moment of brilliance by Kilkenny star Paddy Hogan, as the versatile under 21 star who lines out with that team in defence, and has an All-Ireland final to look forward to next month against Tipperary; captured his first Intermediate All-Ireland medal with a magnificent tally of 1-6. A 50th minute goal strike by the Danesfort clubman propelled the Cats into a 1-14 to 0-11 lead, at a stage when Limerick were making in-roads into the game, and placing the Kilkenny rear-guard under severe pressure. Half-time substitute Eoin Hennebry had sent in a speculative shot from over 65 metres out, which Limerick goalkeeper Barry Hennessy was under to try and set up a clearance, however an eager Hogan doubled on the ball, to place it in the back of the net - Kilkenny now doubling their advantage to six-points as the game entered the closing ten minutes. Scores were vital in the second-half for Limerick, but they mis-fired on seven occasions during the closing half an hour, including a trio of misses from former Senior star Mark Keane for the Shannonsiders in the third quarter. Although the final score-line finished in Kilkenny's favour, Limerick showed great brilliance throughout the field, especially in the opening half. 38-year old Ciaran Carey's search for a first All-Ireland medal still proving elusive, but the former Senior player gave a strong display at full-back in this game. Limerick settled quickest and took the lead on two occasions inside the opening minute and a half, as this game began at lightning pace, with David O'Neill slicing the ball between the posts after 10 seconds, easily one of the quickest scores ever witnessed in Thurles. 35 seconds later, Damien Fogarty equalised at the opposite end, but Limerick captain Alan O'Connor restored his sides lead with a point from a placed ball. Level on five occasions inside the opening ten minutes, Kilkenny then broke free from Limerick, scoring three quick points, with Noel Doherty, Bill Beckett and Hogan on target; as the Cats opened up a 0-08 to 0-05 lead at the end of the opening quarter. Limerick failed to give up with the likes of full-forward Paudie McNamara and midfielder Andrew Brennan excelling, with both taking fine scores. Despite Limerick cutting the gap to the minimum by the 28th minute, following a third-point of the game from O'Connor, Kilkenny finished strongest before the break with points from Noel Doherty and Hogan ensuring a 0-11 to 0-08 half-time lead. The Kilkenny management weren't totally happy with their sides performance in the opening half, and introduced Niall Doran and Eoin Hennebry for the second half, both had been influential earlier in the campaign, and these switches proved key to ensuring success. Limerick matched Kilkenny well in the nine-minute period following the restart, with the Cats holding a slight edge by 0-04 to 0-03 over that spell. Hogan's 39th minute point ensured a four-point lead, but the Cats weren't to score for another 12 and a half minutes, with Hogan's well-placed goal their next score. However Limerick only managed a point during that period, but Mark Keane having an off day in front of the posts for the Shannonsiders. The Limerick attack continued to place sustained pressure on the Kilkenny defence, but the Cats held that extra edge as a 60th minute Hogan point sealed a gloss on a six-point win. After the game Kilkenny captain Conor Phelan accepted the cup from fellow Kilkenny man, GAA President Nickey Brennan. Kilkenny - L Tierney; M Phelan, S Cummins, S Prendergast; P Lonergan, P Hartley, K Joyce (0-1, 1f); N Walsh, D Fogarty (0-2, 1f); B Beckett (0-2), C Phelan, P Hogan (1-6, 5f); M Grace (0-2), P Cleere, N Doherty (0-3). Subs - N Doran for Lonergan (HT); E Hennebry for Walsh (HT); J Nolan for Grace (53); A Healy for Doherty (56); D Prendergast for Fogarty (58) Limerick - B Hennessy; T Condon, C Carey, G O'Leary; R O'Neill, M Keane (0-1, 1f), S Walsh; A Brennan (0-1), P O'Brien; David Moloney, P O'Reilly (0-1), M McKenna; D O'Neill (0-1), P McNamara (0-3), A O'Connor (0-6, 4f, 2 65'). Subs - P Browne for R O'Neill (BS 18-19); D Stapleton for O'Brien (33); P Harty for McKenna (40); P Browne for David Moloney (45); N Maher for D O'Neill (57); Damien Moloney for Brennan (63). Ref - James McGrath (Westmeath)

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