Breaking down how Limerick beat Kilkenny after Richie Hogan’s goal
A quick analysis of how Limerick remained composed and beat Kilkenny following Richie Hogan’s 64th minute goal.
As Richie Hogan’s 64th minute goal hit the back of the net a feeling of inevitability fell over Semple Stadium on Sunday and over Limerick fans across the country.
The way John Kiely’s men steadied the ship after this setback was extremely impressive. It showed a measure of resolve and stubbornness we wouldn’t always associate with Limerick hurling. 2018 has been an exceptional year for Limerick, with just two losses throughout the entire league and championship.
With Kilkenny staying within an arm’s reach of two points, the game seemed to flip as soon as John Donnelly came on for Colin Fennelly in the 62nd minute. Richie Leahy, another second half substitute, had just scored his third point and Kilkenny had their backs up having made it a two point game.
Donnelly came on and immediately made an impact, dispossessing Sean Finn and Diarmaid Byrnes directly from a Limerick puck out and pointing a score that went to Hawkeye, even though it was a foot or more inside the upright.
In the next possession, which was superbly won by Shane Dowling, William O’Donoghue took possession well but struck it wide.
From the resulting puck out, Eoin Murphy delivered a ball directly into the Kilkenny half-forward line. The ball broke between TJ Reid and Hannon, and somehow landed into the hand of Donnelly who was barrelling from deep. The Thomastown man delivered a lovely ball into Hogan who was lurking to the left of the square, he steadied himself and buried it between Nicky Quaid’s legs.
At this point, with Kilkenny suddenly two points up with just over five minutes to go, you’d have expected Brian Cody’s side to see out the victory in classic Kilkenny fashion, and for Limerick’s composure to crumble. However Kilkenny left Limerick with a bit too much time on the clock and the Shannonsiders answered back almost immediately.
From the next puck out, Quaid found Tom Morrissey in traffic who beat Joey Holden to the ball. Up to this point, Morrissey had struck two points and a couple of wides and had been left on the field over Gearoid Hegarty who had scored three.
From the point of winning the ball, Morrissey showed an impressive burst of determination to ignore his teammates around him and backed himself to score, which he did sublimely from near the left sideline.
The next phase of play was the most important in seeing Limerick back into the game.
Following the puck out, Kilkenny had worked the ball up towards their half forward line, but were immediately surrounded by two and three Limerick players each time. During this phase, John Donnelly could have been awarded a free for an arm around the neck but the referee let play on.
The ball eventually spilled as far as the sideline, with the below screenshot illustrating the work rate of the Limerick players with even Kyle Hayes back deep looking to regain possession. Hannon won the ball and fed it to Sean Finn, who found Graeme Mulcahy just inside midfield.
At this stage, Hayes had worked back up the field and received the ball from Mulcahy and delivered a pinpoint pass into substitute Peter Casey. The Na Piarsaigh man took possession and struck superbly over his right shoulder to level the game.
Within two and a half minutes of conceding a crushing goal, the sides were level again, thanks to Limerick’s hard work in the half back line and the confident accuracy of their forwards.
Once again in the next phase, Limerick won the ball in their own half back line. Hannon laid the groundwork which O’Donoghue and Byrnes mopped up, who delivered a ball to Aaron Gillane who gathered it expertly on the edge of the right hand sideline. Once again, Limerick showed superb composure amidst the chaos of conceding a goal and Gillane found Dowling with a cross field ball which he pointed easily.
In the next phase of play, Kilkenny lost the ball again having won possession in their half forward line with TJ Reid. The ball was fed to Donnelly who hit a pass inside the full back line but this ball strayed lose, and Peter Casey hit a wide ball after Limerick had worked the ball back up the field.
From the resultant puck out, Murphy shared a short pass to his corner back before driving the ball on top of Donnelly and Dan Morrissey. The supersub won it and played a pass to Leahy, who notched another score and brought the sides level once again. This would be Kilkenny’s last score of the game.
The next few phases of play were a bit helter skelter, but Limerick were up to the task showing remarkable work rate in the backs and displaying a huge amount of composure as they tried to play it around and work the ball up the field.
Any attempt from Kilkenny to win the ball in the air was answered by two or three Limerick players surrounding the landing spot, winning the breaking ball and playing a short pass out.
For the all important go-ahead score, Cillian Buckley lofted a ball down on top of four Limerick men and Billy Ryan. Sean Finn mopped up and played a ball to Byrnes, who bobbled a pass to the unmarked Tom Morrissey in midfield.
From here, the Ahane man seemed to show signs of fatigue as he slowed down to lift the ball, but he completely backed himself against Kilkenny midfielder James Maher in a sprint from his own 45 yard line to inside Kilkenny’s, and drove another impressive score over the bar.
It was the second time in this timeframe in which Morrissey, last year’s U21 All-Ireland winning captain, backed himself over anyone else on the field and you have to hand it to the youngster for taking the responsibility under such circumstances.
From the next phase, his brother Dan won the ball clean in his own half back line and Limerick won a game sealing free from 21 yards out after the ball had been worked up to the forwards with a laser pass from Cian Lynch. Gillane was fouled by Paul Murphy, and he pointed the short free.
Limerick won the ball in their half back line three more times in the next minute before the referee called time.
Limerick’s composure following the goal can’t be underlined enough, both from a backs and a forwards perspective. Their ability to win the ball in their backline, their work rate to harry the Kilkenny forwards into errors and their accuracy from shooting positions was superb, especially considering the poor conditions.
Dan Morrissey was awarded man of the match and perhaps deservingly so, although Declan Hannon was mammoth in this crucial period of the game, as was Tom Morrissey for his two extremely crucial points.
The caveat of this is of course it was Kilkenny’s third weekend out in a row. But the mental aspect of overcoming Brian Cody’s men having conceded a late goal and gone two points adrift cannot be ignored. It is a major string to Limerick’s bow and will carry them into the Cork game with a huge bounce in their step. If their backline can remain as resilient against the dangerous Cork forwards then Limerick will have an All-Ireland final to look forward to in a month’s time.