The 2021 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final

This afternoon’s All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final at Croke Park saw reigning champions Limerick beat Cork by 3-32 to 1-22 at Croke Park. The margin of victory (16 points) reflected Limerick’s dominance; their total of 41 points is one of the largest ever in a final. The Bookies were right in having Limerick odds-on favourites (1-5) before the match and they thoroughly deserved their victory. Congratulations to them!

As a neutral I was hoping for a less one-sided match, and Cork actually started off quite well, responding quickly to Limerick’s opening goal with an impressive goal of their own. The game started at a frantic pace and for about ten minutes it looked a pretty even contest, but once Limerick got into their stride they imposed themselves on all areas of the game. The Limerick team not only looked physically bigger than their opponents but also put in a phenomenal work rate, to such an extent that it frequently seemed they had more players on the pitch than Cork. I know it’s a cliché, but at times it really did look like men against boys.

When not in possession, Limerick harried their opponents into making mistakes and when in possession they ruthlessly exploited errors in the Cork defence. In particular they exerted their trademark dominance of the middle third of the pitch, scoring points from long range like a boxer with a longer reach than his opponent and making it very difficult for Cork to play through them. By half time, when the score was 1-11 to 3-18, Limerick were already 13 points ahead and the game was effectively over as a contest. It was more like an exhibition match or some sort of masterclass.

Credit to the young Cork side for the way they stuck to their task despite being comprehensively outplayed. There’s no disgrace in losing to a team as good as the one they played today. In the end, though, the Championship title goes once again to Limerick, who were magnificent.

Incidentally, Croke Park was about half-full for this showcase event with about 40,000 spectators in the ground. Hopefully next year it will be possible to fill it to capacity. I watched it on TV but it makes a huge difference to the atmosphere if there’s a big crowd watching it in the stadium.

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