Reeling in the Years: Limerick GAA’s 2020


IT will go down in history as an unforgettable one for all the wrong reasons but for Limerick GAA, 2020 couldn’t have gone much better as the hurlers completed the perfect season with the footballers picking up two titles.

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Ahead of what is hopefully a better 2021 for the world as a whole, check out the recap of what was an unforgettable year.



National Hurling League

Limerick began their campaign as National Hurling League champions for the first time since 1998 and kicked off the campaign with a comeback victory over Tipperary in Thurles, winning 2-14 to 0-18.

The reigning All-Ireland champions lead by nine at the half but second half goals would turn the contest in Limerick’s favour.

Kiely’s men then sent out another statement of intent as they overpowered Galway 1-19 to 0-14 in the LIT Gaelic Grounds.

Limerick’s third round game with Waterford was postponed due to inclimate weather conditions in a sign of the year to come.

They continued their run with a 0-29 to 2-21 win over Cork in Pairc Ui Chaoimh before beating Westmeath 1-24 to 0-18.

They overcame Waterford 1-21 to 1-17 in the rescheduled final round game to finish top of the pile and advance to a League semi-final.

Or so we thought.

It would be 238 days before their next competitive game due to the global pandemic.

Munster Hurling Quarter-Final/ League Final

After the lengthy delay and the conclusion of the club championships, Limerick finally returned to action on October 25 for the Munster championship quarter-final as the provincial competition reverted to a knockout basis. The tie with Clare also acted as a League final.

Played behind closed doors in Semple Stadium, Clare started brightly and lead 0-9 to 0-7 at the first waterbreak (a new feature after the lockdown). The sides would go into the half time interval level at 0-15 apiece with Tony Kelly on fire for the Banner.

Six on the bounce to start the second half for Limerick would push them into a lead they wouldn’t relinquish despite Clare getting the first goal of the game through Ryan Taylor.

In the end, Limerick would cruise to a 0-36 to 1-23 victory to begin the campaign.

Munster Hurling Championship semi-final

Limerick travelled to Pairc Ui Chaoimh to take on Tipperary in biblical like conditions in the Munster semi-final.

Paying little heed to the weather, Limerick raced into a 0-6 to 0-1 lead that was reduced to 0-7 to 0-4 at the waterbreak.

Jake Morris had the game’s first goal but Aaron Gillane replied instantly with a three-pointer of his own as Limerick took a comprehensive 1-17 to 1-8 lead into the half.

Gillane’s second had Limerick 2-19 to 1-13 clear at the final waterbreak but a contentious goal from John McGrath brought the sides to within to five.

However, Limerick would pull away again with Seamus Flanagan’s goal sealing a 3-23 to 2-17 win.

Munster Hurling Championship Final

Limerick were paired with Waterford in the Munster final for the first time since 2007. Kiely’s side as defending champions were heavy favourites and started brightly in Semple Stadium.

However, Liam Cahill’s side responded in kind with the sides level at 0-7 apiece at the first water break.

Limerick’s tactics board seemed to have the desired effect as they controlled the remainder of the half to take a 0-14 to 0-11 lead into the break.

Again Waterford’s response was emphatic and they went ahead just prior to the waterbreak with Gearoid Hegarty’s point levelling before the interval.

Limerick’s substitutions would eventually make the difference as Seamus Flanagan scored and set up one immediately upon his introduction.

Adrian Breen would add another as Limerick retained their title with four points to spare in a 0-25 to 0-21 win.

All-Ireland Semi-Final

Like the last four tie the previous year, Limerick failed to get out of the blocks and trailed Galway 0-7 to 0-2 after 15 minutes.

However, Limerick would outscore Galway 0-13 to 0-6 in the remainder of the half to take a two point lead into the break with a brace of Joe Canning sidelines reducing the margin prior to the interval.

Fifteen minutes into the half and Limerick’s lead was out to five as they led 0-21 to 0-16. But Galway responded in style and despite the loss of Joe Canning, they were level in the fourth minute of injury time as substitute Evan Niland bagged two to bring it to 0-23 apiece.

Limerick would grab the next two scores but Galway’s fifth(!) sideline of the day brought it back to one.

But Man of the Match Tom Morrissey would have the final say as two on the bounce from the Ahane man sealed a 0-27 to 0-24 win and a place in the All-Ireland final.

All-Ireland Final

In a rematch of the Munster final, it was a first ever meeting of Limerick and Waterford in the All-Ireland final.

After failing to hit top gear for much of the campaign, Limerick put in one of the most comprehensive All-Ireland final displays in recent memories as they won out 0-30 to 0-19 against the Deise to claim a ninth ever title.

Limerick set the tone from the very start and points from Tom Morrissey and Seamus Flanagan were an early signal of intent.

Waterford hit back and were level within minutes.

However, that would be as close as they got as Limerick really kicked into gear as they tacked on the next four scores.

At half-time they were 0-14 to 0-11 to the good, but dominant in every part of the pitch.

The Shannonsiders would get six of the first seven scores after the break to move into a commanding 0-20 to 0-12 lead after 40 minutes.

The gap remained at eight heading into the final waterbreak of the afternoon.

Waterford battled valiantly but there was no stopping the Limerick juggernaut as they tacked on six more scores to win a second All-Ireland title in three years under John Kiely.

13 December 2020; Limerick manager John Kiely lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup following the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Limerick and Waterford at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

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National Football League

After winning the McGrath cup for the first time since 2005, Limerick began the League with four successive wins to take control of the bottom tier.

They were 1-10 to 0-10 winners over Waterford before beating London 0-8 to 0-7 in the second round.

Carlow were next up as a late snatch and grab saw them win out 1-7 to 0-9 in Dr Cullen Park. They had far too much for Wicklow in Round 4 with a 5-10 to 1-14 win over Wicklow.

They would lose out away to Antrim in their next game before the lockdown was imposed.

On their return, a win against Wexford in Rathkeale would have sealed promotion back to Division 3. However, after the lengthy break, Billy Lee’s side failed to fire and trailed by eight points at the half.

They did regroup sufficiently after the break but it was too little too late as they fell to a 1-13 to 1-10 loss.

They would then travel to Markievicz Park needing a win against Sligo to seal promotion.

After failing the previous week, Lee’s side would make no mistake the second time around and put in an exceptional performance, winning out 1-16 to 1-14 to ensure promotion and clinch the Division 4 title.

McGrath Cup Final, LIT Gaelic Grounds, Co. Limerick 11/1/2020
Cork vs Limerick
Limerick’s Iain Corbett and Donal O’Sullivan with the McGrath Cup
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ken Sutton

Munster Football Championship quarter-final

Limerick had to travel to the Fraher Fields to face Waterford in the Munster championship quarter final October 31.

Waterford got the first score of the game before Billy Lee’s side took control.

Cillian Fahy had the games first goal after some brilliant interchange play in the build up. The second was equally beautiful with Adrian Enright finishing to the net to give Limerick a 2-4 to 0-1 lead after 15 minutes.

Limerick’s lead at half-time was 2-5 to 0-4 as the home side fought to claw their way back into the contest.

With 50 minutes on the clock, the Limerick lead was out to ten as they capitalised on the Deise’s wastefulness with clinical accuracy.

In the end, the margin of victory was 11-points as they coasted into a second consecutive Munster semi-final.

Munster Football Championship semi-final

Limerick welcomed Tipperary to the LIT Gaelic Grounds for that Munster semi-final in early November.

The sides were level at 0-4 apiece after 35 minutes before Sean McSweeney pounced for a brilliant goal to push Limerick ahead.

Cillian Fahy would add Limerick’s second five minutes later to give the Shannonsiders some daylight.

At the half, their lead was 2-6 to 0-5.

While Limerick dominated the second quarter, Tipperary would roar back into the game after the interval and were ahead just prior to the final waterbreak with Liam Casey’s goal pushing them 1-11 to 2-5 clear.

Limerick responded after the break and were ahead through Cian Sheehan approaching injury time.

However, Conor Sweeney showed his class to point from the sideline to bring the game to extra-time.

Tipp had the only score of the first period of ET but scores in the second from McSweeney and Donal O’Sullivan pulled Limerick clear.

But, Tipp would find the final two scores to take the win and move into the Munster final, ending Limerick’s incredible season.

Club Championships

For 2020, the club season was played before intercounty with most of the championships restructured as they were played off between late June and early September.


Na Piarsaigh claimed their sixth title in a decade as they defeated Doon 5-27 to 1-12 in an irresistible display.

David Dempsey had the first goal of the half and his side were 1-12 to 0-9 to the good at the short whistle.

Dempsey added a second, another spectacular score after 33 minutes as Na Piarsaigh moved ten clear.

Doon did reply with a goal from a penaty from Barry Murphy but it would offer little reprieve as goals from Peter Casey (x2) and Adrian Breen saw the Caherdavin side coast to an impressive victory.

It was their sixth triumph since their maiden win in 2011.

After losing the 2019 final, Kildimo Pallaskenry won the Premier Intermediate Championship as they beat Mungret St Pauls 0-22 to 1-13 in the final to seal a place in the Senior ranks for the first time since the 1940’s.

Like KP, Newcastle West were able to right the wrongs of 2019 as they made it second time lucky in the Limerick Intermediate Hurling final, beating Na Piarsaigh 1-24 to 1-22 in the decider.

Unfortunately, the Junior A & B championships weren’t concluded due to restrictions.


Adare made it three SFC titles in four years as they dominated Balllylanders in the final winning out 4-7 to 0-4.

Hugh Bourke’s goal was the opening score of the game as they lead 1-1 to 0-1 at the first water break.

Hugh Bourke escapes the clutches of James Cummins in the 2020 Limerick SFC Semi final tie between Galbally and Adare in Kilmallock. Mandatory Credit: Sport Action Photography

Shane O’Connor’s goal just on the stroke of half time gave them a commanding 2-3 to 0-1 advantage at the half.

The sides split six scores after the resumption before Hugh Bourke put the game to bed with his second late on.

Moments later Roy Gleeson got on the scoresheet with Adare’s fourth as they cruised to a third ever championship win.

Claughaun defeated Gerald Griffins by 0-10 to 0-7 in the Intermediate final as they secured their return to the top tier.

The triumphant Clauaghaun team celebrate after winning the 2020 Limerick Intermediate Football Championship final. Mandatory Credit: Tony Quinlavin

Crecora won a first ever Junior A football championship as they beat Monagea 1-11 to 0-11 in the decider.

The Junior B champions was also not concluded.

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