KILKENNY a touch of class and daring spirit when edging past Limerick in this nail-biting All-Ireland vocational schools senior hurling semi-final at wet and windy Rathkeale on Saturday.
The game was played in atrocious weather, but the pitch held up well. Kilkenny were quick to settle and points from Kevin Sweeney, Conor Martin, James Doyle and Liam Hickey helped them find a strong stride. A goal Freshford’s shane Donnelly followed, and that was the all important one that kept daylight between the sides.
Limerick fought back manfully, and picked off a few nice score from frees. By the interval they had the deficit back to a brace of points, 0-8 to 1-7.
The losers charged with all guns blazing into the new half, and they bagged 1-1. The Cats didn’t panic. They hit back for points by Conor Martin and Shane Donnelly but it wasn’t easy to contact fiercely determined opponents.
With eight minutes remaining Limerick were two points to the good, and the large home following was giving them plenty of support. Kilkenny midfielder, Willie Brennan, then produced a stroke of genius. He powered through the opposing defence, and from 20-metres slammed the ball into the net.
That was the game turner. Conor Martin cut through the defence minutes later and he off-loaded to Mark Russell, who blasted to the net to give the visitors a six point advantage.
Limerick charged back, but they couldn’t save the day and Kilkenny marched into the final against Galway.
Kilkenny scorers - Conor Martin (0-5); Shane Donnelly (1-2); Mark Russell (1-1); Willie Brennan (1-0); Kevin Sweeney (0-2); James Doyle, Liam Hickey (0-1 each).