Intimate celebration marked NHL success

9 April 2023; Limerick players celebrate with the cup after the Allianz Hurling League Final match between Kilkenny and Limerick at Páirc Ui Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

ONLY an intimate in-house celebration was held at the end of the Easter bank holiday weekend by the Limerick players and management to mark the county’s 14th annexation of the National Hurling League title.

In front of a strong Limerick attendance at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, John Kiely’s heroes easily had the measure of Kilkenny in the showpiece. Stand-in captain Cian Lynch led some post-match celebrations, but the squad were back in full training again by Tuesday, with another couple of sessions pencilled-in for this weekend.

In a condensed calendar, manager John Kiely knows only too well the pitfalls of going off track. With the Munster Senior Championship opener against Waterford at Semple Stadium, Thurles only around the corner, now is no time for resting on league-winning laurels.

On Leeside, it was with little fuss that The Cats were swept to one side by a well-oiled Treaty machine. The easiness of the win only served to underline the serious threat that Limerick are once again in Championship 2023. Their already skimpy odds have since been shortened even further for another capture of the Liam MacCarthy Cup in the summer.

Limerick have also been made unbackable favourites to win a fifth provincial championship on the trot.

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Regulars Declan Hannon (flu), Kyle Hayes (minor injury), and William O’Donoghue (suspension) all missed the fixture, but the trio will all be available for selection against Waterford in the opening round of the Munster Championship against Waterford at Semple Stadium, Thurles, on Sunday week (April 23).

Mike Casey was replaced due to a HIA (High Injury Assessment) at the weekend and continues to be monitored.

Young guns Colin Coughlan and Cathal O’Neill will also be challenging for starting places, Kiely indicated post-match on Sunday.

In Cork, Darragh O’Donovan enhanced his reputation even further with a man-of-the-match performance in what was the culmination of a competition that was first introduced way back in 1926.

It represented a 14th League win for Limerick, adding to the previous triumphs of 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1947, 1971, 1984, 1985, 1992, 1997, 2019, and 2020.