KILKENNY set up a mouth-watering encounter with rivals Tipperary, after they defeated Limerick in the second All-Ireland quarter-final at Semple Stadium on Sunday.
The Treaty County looked set to cause another huge upset in the hurling championship, following David Breen’s early goal. However, the Cats dominated proceedings in the second half, with two quick goals in the space of 60 seconds breaking Limerick hearts yet again.
This was a far from perfect Kilkenny performance, who had Richie Hogan sent off near the end for a wild pull on Seanie Tobin, but still seem to be the team to beat for the Liam McCarthy Cup in September.
Henry Shefflin opened the scoring in Thurles in front of an impressive 38,116 attendance, but Limerick replied in style thanks to points from Niall Moran and Shane Dowling. Breen then stunned the crowd with a blistering finish past David Herity.
However, Shefflin came to the rescue for the Cats, grabbing goals after 17 and 20 minutes respectively, to put his side one point ahead. Limerick responded with scores from Dowling and Graeme Mulcahy, with Stephen Walsh and Richie McCarthy solid in defence.
Kilkenny held a slender 2-7 to 0-9 lead going into the break, thanks to some resolute Tommy Walsh defending. Having lost Ritchie Power to a heavy knock just before half-time, Brian Cody’s side upped the ante, opening up an 11-point lead after 55 minutes thanks to Eoin Larkin, Aidan Fogarty and Colin Fennelly.
Fogarty then found the back of the Limerick net for his side’s third goal, with the aforementioned Fennelly smashing home a fourth goal for the Cats less than a minute later, leaving no way back for John Allen’s side.
Declan Hannon scored a brace of points for Limerick, but it was far too late, with Kilkenny’s defence impressing, and Shefflin bringing his tally to 2-6 with a late injury-time free.