Kilkenny complete semi-final line-up

July 31, 2005
The Cats are the fourth team through to this year's All-Ireland SHC semi-finals, but they had to dig deep to see off a spirited second-half Limerick revival in a disappointing quarter-final at Croke Park. TJ Ryan opened the scoring with a Limerick point from a free after only 30 seconds but Derek Lyng delivered the equaliser with a fine point from distance before his midfield partner Brian Barry landed another huge point as the Cats hit the front. It was a lead that they would maintain right to the final whistle, even though Limerick twice closed within a point. Limerick custodian Timmy Houlihan dealt with DJ Carey's clever overhead pull but Martin Comerford soon increased the Black & Amber advantage. Henry Shefflin (free) made it 0-4 to 0-1 but Ryan closed the gap with his second pointed free. Shefflin uncharacteristically hit a poor wide before Limerick centre forward James O'Brien fired the Shannonsiders' third score. Shefflin made no mistake with his next effort, 0-5 to 0-3, but Eoin Larkin, who failed to score today, missed the target. Shefflin pointed at the end of an excellent solo run and added another free after a handling error from Houlihan led to a foul by Stephen Lucey. Shefflin's third point in a row made it 0-8 to 0-3 and Limerick were clearly in danger of a drubbing when the No.15 knocked over his sixth score of the match. Tommy Walsh put seven between the sides as the Kilkenny scoring procession continued unabated. A foul on Niall Moran offered Limerick some respite but Ryan's free tailed wide. Comerford floated his second point from way out and rattled Limerick replied with another wide from Ryan. Walsh missed the target at the Hill end and then picked up a yellow card for dissent as a lacklustre first half petered out with the game already appearing good as over. Limerick got the sympathy vote from the referee when awarded a soft free in front of the posts and Ryan's fierce drive flew inches over the bar before Andrew Shaughnessy supplied Limerick's second point from open play. At the break, unflustered Kilkenny led by 0-11 to 0-6. There was a remarkable transformation upon the resumption as Kilkenny eased up and Limerick came right back into it. But Kilkenny stood their ground and the teams hit seven points apiece in the second 35 minutes. Donie Ryan appeared to have handed Limerick a lifeline on the restart when he sent to the net but he was penalised for overcarrying. Ryan and Carey traded points before Niall Moran reduced the gap to five at 0-12 to 0-7. Ryan tapped over another free as the Munster county drew within four and midfielder Paul O'Grady was next to score: 0-12 to 0-9. Despite controlling the first half, Kilkenny now held a very slender advantage. The biggest roar of the evening went up when Peter Lawlor struck a whopping long-range free. TJ Ryan burst through the Black & Amber rearguard to slam over his fifth point and, unbelievably, there was just a puck of the ball between them. Limerick had hit five points in a row, but DJ answered the call when he ended that scoring sequence with his second point of the half: 0-13 to 0-11. Shefflin knocked over a couple of nice frees as the Cats resumed control. Two brilliant Peter Lawlor points sandwiched a Walsh effort but JJ Delaney fired Kilkenny's next chance off target - their eighth wide. Nine minutes from the end, Henry Shefflin was knocked to ground and DJ Carey buried the sliothar to the net. The penalty had to be retaken, though, due to encroachment and this time DJ settled for his point, 0-17 to 0-13. There were further scores until Shefflin flicked over a last-minute free and Kilkenny completed the semi-final line-up, despite a couple of late wides. Kilkenny march on and, for their second half recovery, Limerick bow out with heads held high.

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