Morrissey magic helps Limerick into All-Ireland semi final

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Graeme Mulcahy tries to escape Paul Murphy's attentions during Limerick's two point win against Kilkenny in Thurles. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Limerick will play Cork in the All-Ireland Semi Final after they beat Kilkenny 0-27 to 1-22 in an epic quarter final at Semple Stadium, Thurles.

Richie Hogan’s goal on 65 minutes looked to have turned the tide in Kilkenny’s favour but Limerick’s reacted superbly to score five of the last six scores to book their place in Croke Park at the end of the month.

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Limerick should have been out of sight by the time Hogan netted the only goal of the game but some poor finishing and outstanding saves from Cat’s netminder Eoin Murphy denied them on several occasions.

Brian Cody’s men made the better start and led 0-4 to 0-1 after 12 minutes with TJ Reid, James Maher and Richie Hogan finding the target.

Limerick eventually found their feet and almost found the net through Aaron Gillane but he was denied by Murphy’s first stunning save of the afternoon.

The full forward line of Graeme Mulcahy, Seamus Flanagan and Aaron Gillane were a constant threat to Kilkenny and once the ball came in a bit quicker, they started to gain an upper hand.

Two Gillane points and one each from Kyle Hayes and Gearoid Hegarty put Limerick into the lead for the first time on 28 minutes, while further efforts by Mulcahy and Tom Morrissey saw Limerick three ahead at the break.

Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon and Dan Morrissey were in full control in the half back line at this stage but Kilkenny managed to turn the tide early in the second half with Reid become more influential.

Limerick managed to retain their three point lead as the rain fell in Thurles but the introduction of Richie Leahy and John Donnelly inspired Kilkenny to cut the lead to just one as the game entered the final 10 minutes.

John Kiely then brought Peter Casey and Shane Dowling off the bench and that move worked instantly with a Casey point with his first touch that put Limerick 0-21 to 0-19 in front.

A sublime Darragh O’Donovan sideline cut put Limerick three ahead but Kilkenny responded through Leahy and Donnellan to cut the gap to a single point yet again.

Kilkenny then hit the front for the first time since the 26th minute when a Murphy puck out broke Donnelly’s way and he fed the ball to Hogan, who made no mistake to fire through Nickie Quaid’s legs and into the net.

Limerick teams of the past could have wilted but this side is made of sterner stuff and from the very next play, Tom Morrissey fired over an inspirational point.

Casey then levelled the game for a fifth time moments late, before Dowling put Limerick 0-25 to 1-21 ahead after excellent work from Gillane.

Leahy and Donnelly combined to square the game up once more but Limerick had more left in the tank and finished superbly.

Tom Morrissey took possession inside his own ’65 on the right wing and sprinted away from James Maher.

The Ahane man then slotted over with minimum ease to put Limerick one point ahead once more.

Gillane then sent over only Limerick’s second free of the game to seal a sensational victory – Limerick’s first over Kilkenny in the Championship since they beat The Cats in the 1973 All-Ireland Final.

Scorers – Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-5 (2fs), Tom Morrissey 0-4, Kyle Hayes, Graeme Mulcahy, Gearoid Hegarty and Darragh O’Donovan (1 sideline) 0-3 each, Peter Casey 0-2, Seamus Flanagan, Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon and Shane Dowling 0-1 each.

Scorers – Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-7 (5fs, 1’65), Richie Hogan 1-3, Richie Leahy 0-4, James Maher 0-3, Colin Fennelly 0-2, Conor Fogarty, Liam Blanchfield and John Donnelly 0-1 each.

Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Richie English; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey; Darragh O’Donovan, Cian Lynch; Gearoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Graeme Mulcahy; Subs: Peter Casey for Flanagan (59 mins), Shane Dowling for Hegarty (59 mins), Will O’Donoghue for O’Donovan (63 mins).

Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Paul Murphy, Padraig Walsh, Paddy Deegan; Joey Holden, Cillian Buckley, Robert Lennon; Conor Fogarty, James Maher; Martin Keoghan, TJ Reid, Richie Hogan; Billy Ryan, Colin Fennelly, Pat Lyng; Subs: Liam Blanchfield for Lyng (34 mins), Richie Leahy for Keoghan (45 mins), John Donnelly for Fennelly (62 mins), Ger Aylward for Ryan (71 mins).

Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath)