Limerick emerged from the embers of last year’s final defeat to emerge stronger and deservedly claim the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland intermediate camogie title by beating Kilkenny 1-12 to 0-10 writes Daragh Ó Conchúir from Croke Park.
In the process, they ended Kilkenny’s double bid at the first hurdle, although it was a tremendous achievement for the young Noresiders to get this far.
Limerick really opened up in the second half and the switch of Rebecca Delee and player of the match, Niamh Mulcahy paid handsome dividends as they scored five points from play between them in the second half.
Their defence also played their part though in keeping the shackles on Mags Fennelly and Orla Hanrick and few could argue the merit of this result.
Kilkenny captain, Mags Fennelly gave her team a good start with a point from 40m after just 30 seconds but Mulcahy gave an early reminder of the folly of conceding frees by converting two placed balls in response.
Lydia Fitzpatrick brought the teams level but scores from Mulcahy (free) and Mary O’Callaghan gave Limerick a lead that they never relinquished.
They held that two-point advantage when Deborah Murphy finished for the vital goal in the 20th minute, after the pacey Delee and Mairead Fitzgerald had combined well down the left.
Kilkenny did show their mettle though to finish with three points in the last four minutes, two from Hanrick frees, either side of a mammoth score – also from a placed ball – by full-back Catherine Foley.
That left it delicately poised at the break on 1-5 to 0-6 and Kilkenny had the margin down to one when Hanrick pointed early in the second half.
Minor star, Caoimhe Costello sent over two excellent points in response for Limerick but once more, there was an impressive reply from Fennelly and Hanrick.
Joe Quaid moved Mulcahy to the right wing in the second half, with Delee going to centre-forward and both players flourished to help Limerick pull clear.
Mulcahy fired over two fantastic points from play and added another, in between two excellent scores by Delee, to guarantee the Shannonside success.
SCORERS – Limerick: N Mulcahy 0-7(4fs); D Murphy 1-0; R Delee, C Costello 0-2 each; M O’Callaghan 0-1
Kilkenny: O Hanrick 0-5(3fs); L Fitzpatrick, M Fennelly 0-2 each; C Foley 0-1(f)
LIMERICK: S Moynihan, F Hickey, M Casey, J Mulcahy, K Campbell, S Carey, C Mulcahy, N Mulcahy, C Costello, R Delee, M O’Callaghan, L McCarthy, D Murphy, A Sheehan, M Fitzgerald. Subs: S McNamara for McCarthy (ht), D O’Brien for Fitzgerald (ht), K O’Leary for O’Callaghan (45), N Ryan for Murphy (60), D Fitzpatrick for Sheehan (60)
KILKENNY: AM Lennon, E Frisby, C Foley, T Muldowney, C Aylward, A Fahey, S Quirke, M Farrell, M O’Connell, S Crowley, A Farrell, L Norris, L Fitzpatrick, O Hanrick, M Fennelly. Subs: A Gannon for Norris (ht), A Kinsella for Quirke (50), SA Quinlan for Hanrick (52)
REFEREE: R Kelly (Kildare)