Byrnes, Hannon, Hayes: half-back stars of modern hurling

Diarmuid Byrnes celebrates the Treaty’s final-qualifying win over Cork. Photo: Daire Brennan.

THE REMARKABLE scoring contribution of Limerick’s half-back line was instrumental in the downfall of Cork in the bumper concluding group match of an enthralling Munster Senior Hurling Championship at a sun-kissed Gaelic Grounds.  

Between them, Diarmaid Byrnes (Man of the Match by a country mile), Declan Hannon, and Kyle Hayes struck an awesome 1-10. Ahead of them well-established midfield duo Darragh O’Donovan and William O’Donoghue both produced commendable performances.  

On the influence show by Messrs. Byrnes, Hannon, Hayes, O’Donovan, and O’Donoghue, manager John Kiely acknowledged afterwards: “We didn’t have that (before).” 

“It’s something we’ve worked on coming into the Tipperary game and again coming into today. It’s paying dividends. And listen lads are just coming into form nicely, are getting fitter and stronger, more cohesive. There’s still a lot to go, you’ll know yourselves there was a lot of unforced errors, as they call them in tennis, where balls didn’t stick in the hand or went off the hurley. 

“But look that was a hugely challenging environment for any player to exist outside there today and I think it’s only going to serve our group well going forward.” 

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Noted Tipperary legend Nicky English in The Irish Times: “The Limerick half-back line has come really good with the midfield and that has been the powerhouse of Limerick over the past few years. From that middle third (against Cork) Limerick built a winning platform.” 

He added: “Limerick are now back, having had to survive a very rocky few weeks, which is testament to their mental strength. Questioned in many quarters since the slump in their post-league form, they put in a strong performance against outstanding opponents (Cork). 

“It was their best display of the championship before a full house in the match of the year so far. Limerick are now in the ascendant.”