2007 All-Ireland SHC final: Gone In 60 Seconds

September 02, 2007

Henry Shefflin raises the Liam McCarthy trophy together with Darragh McGarry, who is lifted by his father James
Kilkenny made a great start and knocked the stuffing out of Limerick with two goals inside a minute to retain the Liam McCarthy Cup. It was a nightmare start for the underdogs, who never recovered and fell to a 2-19 to 1-15 defeat after playing catch-up for virtually the entire 70 minutes. The winners were not going to be denied today and their 30th senior All-Ireland victory was achieved in the face of adversity as they lost both Noel Hickey and Henry Shefflin to injury - a double blow that would have derailed just about any other team. After the game, Brian Cody immediately dedicated the victory to Vanessa McGarry. Vanessa and James' young son Dara helped Henry Shefflin to lift the Cup after the game in one of the most poignant scenes ever witnessed at GAA Headquarters. The match was over as a contest within ten minutes as rampant Kilkenny tore into a nine-point lead. Eddie Brennan and Henry Shefflin sent the ball to the net twice inside a minute and Eoin Larkin clipped over two splendid points from play, adding to a Shefflin free, as the defending champions assumed a 2-3 to no score advantage. Limerick didn't register from play until Donal O'Grady slammed one over after quarter of an hour, adding to Andrew O'Shaughnessy's free to close the gap to seven. Seanie O'Connor provided the Shannonsiders' third score - a great strike from play - as the gap was reduced further. The two goals separated the teams before Brennan came out deep to split the posts, giving the Cats a 2-4 to 0-3 advantage at the end of the opening quarter. Ollie Moran lifted Limerick was a majestic point from play, while Shefflin uncharacteristically struck a couple of surprise wides at the Canal End. Moran's second successive score - a textbook effort, flowing with grace - reduced the differential to five but Larkin had far too much time and space to pick his spot and easily clip his third point of the match on 20 minutes. Brian Cody was forced into a change when full back Noel Hickey pulled up holding his dodgy hamstring on 22 minutes and the Noreside supreme wasted no time replacing the Dunamaggin clubman with the equally effective John Tennyson. Brennan almost got in for a second goal but Seamus Hickey slid in brilliantly to divert the sliothar over the bar for another Kilkenny point. Shefflin nonchalantly added another and Kilkenny made another first-half change by springing Richie Power in place of Willie O'Dwyer. Limerick had to work a lot harder for their scores and Donie Ryan did the spadework to create a minor for Mike Fitzgerald. Straight away, Larkin - a candidate for the Man of the Match award - provided his fourth point from four efforts after making a superb catch. A very harsh call against Tommy Walsh, who was dubiously penalised whilst trying to come out with the ball, presented O'Shaughnessy with a simple point from a free and Kilkenny were on the wrong end of another close call at the other end when Martin Comerford appeared to be fouled but no free was forthcoming. The underdogs capitalised on their good fortune as Moran drove over his third point but the Black & Amber kept their cool to go seven points clear once more courtesy of Brennan, who stroked a nice point from the right wing after Shefflin had taken Hickey out of the play with an excellent hit. The Munster county were awarded another soft free when Brian Hogan was adjudged to have fouled Fitzgerald but this time the ball drifted outside the target. Walsh raided forward to close the first-half scoring two minutes into added time and there was real concern in the Cats' camp when Shefflin pulled up with a suspected cruciate injury late on. As the short whistle sounded, the hot favourites were in complete control, leading by eight points, 2-10 to 0-8. Shefflin didn't re-emerge for the second half - a huge loss to Kilkenny who were now without two of their most talismanic players. O'Shaughnessy opened the second-half scoring with a free from distance after a crude foul by Cha Fitzpatrick and an excellent Niall Moran point from play reduced the arrears to just the two goals with three minutes played in the second half. Power steadied the Leinster champions with a brace of frees but Cha had no such luck as his two efforts flew wide of the posts. Tennyson lifted his team with some swashbuckling stuff at centre back and Brennan did likewise at the other end, embarking on a purposeful run after making a delightful catch. When Power sent over his third successive free, the gap went up to nine. However, Limerick refused to lie down and they were given a definite lifeline when Ollie Moran drove a stunning shot to the roof of the Kilkenny net in the 47th minute. The Limerick centre forward rubberstamped his All Star with a magnificent, emphatic finish. Limerick were now within six points and they still had a full 20 minutes to get back into the game. Kilkenny weren't playing with their customary composure but Walsh gave them a timely boost when he dissected the posts with his second point from corner back - quite a contribution. O'Shaughnessy popped over a free but it was goals the Munster finalists needed to get back into contention. Fitzpatrick struck for Kilkenny and Aidan Fogarty provided another as the Cats rather confidently re-established their interval advantage of eight points - 2-16 to 1-11. O'Grady scored Limerick's twelfth point of the final and O'Shaughnessy bravely went for goal when Limerick were awarded a free from close range slightly to the right of the posts. JJ Delaney produced heroics on the goal line, getting down to divert the low drive for a 65, which O'Shaughnessy spurned. Another free had the gap down to five with 13 minutes left in the 2007 All-Ireland senior hurling championship. As a scrappy final stuttered towards an inevitable conclusion, Jackie Tyrrell made a good block to keep O'Shaughnessy's kick away from the goal. The former popped the resultant 65 over the bar and Kilkenny's lead was a mere five points again. It was surprising to see so many people leaving the venue with the match still potentially in the melting pot but it was a horrible wet day and the contest never quite lived up to the occasion. Limerick got most of the decisions but the quality of their deliveries into the full forward line left a lot to be desired. In stark contrast, Brennan took his personal tally to 1-4 with a simple finish six minutes from the end. With Michael Kavanagh dominant, the Kilkenny full back line played superbly throughout, keeping their opposing players scoreless from play for the entire game. O'Shaughnessy mustered a late consolation point from a free but the brilliant Brennan closed the scoring with his fifth point to give Kilkenny a comfortable win. Kilkenny - PJ Ryan; M Kavanagh, N Hickey, J Tyrrell; T Walsh (0-2), B Hogan, JJ Delaney; D Lyng, J Fitzpatrick (0-1); E Brennan (1-4), H Shefflin (1-2, 1 feee), E Larkin (0-5); W O'Dwyer, M Comerford, A Fogarty (0-1). Subs - J Tennyson for N Hickey (23), R Power (0-4, 3 frees) for W O'Dwyer (27), M Fennelly for H Sheflin (ht). Limerick - B Murray; D Reale, S Lucey, S Hickey, P Lawlor, B Geary, M Foley, D O'Grady (0-2), M O'Brien, M Fitzgerald (0-1), O Moran (1-3), S O'Connor (0-1), A O'Shaugnessy (0-7, 6 frees, 1 '65), B Begley, D Ryan. Subs - N Moran (0-2) for M O'Brien (ht), J O'Brien for S O'Connor (44), P Tobin for S Fitzgerald (49), K Tobin for D Ryan (58), P Lawlor for M O'Riordan (68). Referee - D Kirwan (Cork)

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