It was Limerick’s maiden All-Ireland title defence after a 3-32 to 1-22 victory over Cork.
The finest teams in any sport are known for delivering their best performances on the most important stages.
There is no doubt about Limerick’s supremacy. However far this squad advances in the future, the All-Ireland final in 2021 might be a benchmark for their excellence.
For the past few weeks, the team’s motto has been that they intend to bring their A-game for the full 70 minutes of the game. And they were able to pull it off, assembling the ideal storm to completely demolish the Rebels.
Cian Lynch sent Limerick into the lead after only a few seconds of possession. They stumbled onto the net for the first time a short time afterwards. Gearoid Hegarty, the 2020 Hurler of the Year, buried the ball past Cork goalkeeper Patrick Collins after the Patrickswell maestro had played it in.
The Lee-siders were in desperate need of an answer, and they got one. Before Shane Kingston could get his hands on the ball, they worked it up the field slowly. At full speed, the Douglas star sprinted at the Limerick defenders and sent it into the top corner.
The Treaty, on the other hand, kept moving forward. In the first half, all six starting attackers scored from the field, with Peter Casey leading the charge.
Once again, Collins was called upon to clean up Aaron Gillane’s goal in the 15th minute, which put his team in command of the game 2-8 to 1-1 at the water break.
Seamus Harnedy got Limerick off to a good start in the second quarter with a 3-pointer, but Limerick went on a 5-1 run without answering.
Cork couldn’t match Limerick’s ferocity and work-rate. They dominated until Hegarty scored in injury time.
Limerick’s hunger never dwindled in the second half. Graeme Mulcahy pointed moments after the restart, as the Treaty looked to cruise home. Cian Lynch thrived on open spaces as the game broke down in the third quarter, with the reigning champions leading 3-26 to 1-16 at the second water break.
The Rebels’ bench did provide some much-needed energy, but it was too little, too late. Before the full-time whistle, the party was well underway. When Declan Hannon came off in the 65th minute, he punched the air in celebration of captaining three All-Ireland titles.
Lynch pulled the strings until the death, as his five second-half points helped the Treaty to a 16-point victory.
Cork learned a hard lesson on the sport’s greatest day. But, considering their age and the minor titles won this week at U20, they will be back stronger.
But today was Limerick’s. The Treaty have once again inscribed themselves into history.
Limerick: Aaron Gillane (1-6), Gearoid Hegarty (2-2), Cian Lynch (0-6), Peter Casey (0-5), Tom Morrissey (0-3), Diarmaid Byrnes (0-2, 0-1f), Declan Hannon (0-2), Barry Nash (0-1), Darragh O’Donovan (0-1), Seamus Flanagan (0-1), David Reidy (0-1), Pat Ryan (0-1). (0-1).
Luke Meade, Jack O’Connor, Alan Cadogan, Niall O’Leary, Niall O’Leary, Mark Coleman, Niall O’Leary (0-1).
1. Nickie Quaid
2. Seán Finn
3. Dan Morrissey
4. Barry Nash
5. Diarmaid Byrnes
6. Declan Hannon
7. Kyle Hayes
8. William O’Donoghue
9. Darragh O’Donovan
10. Gearoid Hegarty
11. Cian Lynch
12. Tom Morrissey
13. Aaron Gillane
14. Séamus Flanagan
15. Peter Casey
Peter Casey (Graeme Mulcahy) (35th minute)
Reidy for Lynch (42nd-44th minute – temp)
Gearoid Hegarty/David Reid (62nd minute)
Defeats Declan Hannon (65th minute)
Graeme Mulcahy Barry Murphy (68th minute)
pat ryan for tom mcmor (70th minute)
1. Patrick Collins
2. Niall O’Leary
3. Robert Downey
4. Seán O’Donoghue
5. Tim O’Mahony
6. Mark Coleman
7. Eoin Cadogan
8. Darragh Fitzgibbon
9. Luke Meade
10. Conor Cahalane
11. Séamus Harnedy
12. Robbie O’Flynn
13. Jack O’Connor
14. Patrick Horgan
15. Shane Kingston
Conor Cahalane’s son Damien (half-time)
A. Cadogan vs. Jack O’ (47th minute)
O’Leary Hayes for Niall (47th minute)
Dr. Darragh Fitzgibbon (47th minute)
O’Donoghue vs Cashman (53rd minute)
D Dalton for O’Flynn (55th minute – injured)