Limerick only have one weakness - and they're so good that it doesn't even matter
Limerick 2-20 Kilkenny 0-15
Limerick were missing Declan Hannon, William O'Donoghue and Kyle Hayes on Sunday.
They are some of the best three players in the country but in this Allianz League final, their absence didn't make a blind bit of difference.
It was much the same in the same final against Tipperary.
That day, John Kiely was minus the services of Darragh O'Donovan, Kyle Hayes and Dan Morrissey - while Gearoid Hegarty only came on as a blood sub - but again, nothing changed. Limerick came good like they always do.
Colin Coughlan and Cathal O'Neill both impressed in this, their first National Hurling League final.
In Limerick, hurlers are literally growing on trees. Shane O'Brien and Donncha Ó Dálaigh came on as late subs, the most recent graduates of their famed academy.
These are daunting times for the rest of Ireland.
As Tipperary did, Kilkenny came out punching in this League final, hurling themselves into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead after five minutes.
Adrian Mullen and John Donnelly were hitting everything that moved, and you wondered there and then if this might be the day when Limerick were horsed out of it.
But that doesn't happen. We should know that by now.
As ever, they calmly and brilliantly hurled their way to victory.
Kilkenny only scored 12 points in the next 70 minutes of hurling. For the second game in a row, Limerick defeated a gallant set of opponents pulling up. The five-in-a-row-seekers were again able to put the handbrake on with 15 minutes to go.
Sean Finn gave a vintage display of composed hurling at corner back. Alongside him, Barry Nash bombed up the field to score 1-1 from play. Kyle Hayes may have been suspended, but in his replacement Colin Coughlan, it was as good as like for like. They could afford to leave Tom Morrissey on the bench until half-time.
Adrian Mullen hurled well on his return for Kilkenny but the Ballyhale star aside, the majority of Kilkenny players were well beaten in the individual battles. Diarmaid Byrnes showed why he's the Hurler of the Year with some thunderous moments, Seamus Flanagan also sprinkled a bit of star-dust while as ever, Aaron Gillane was just unbelievable.
His second half goal was Limerick are their best.
Limerick increase their lead with a beautiful first-time finish by Aaron Gillane into the back of the net. pic.twitter.com/nwVp6qeZQh
— The GAA (@officialgaa) April 9, 2023
In the end, they won this game by 11 points - it could have been much more - and the only blot on their copybook was that they were pulled three times, and correctly so, for throwing the ball by referee Paud O'Dwyer.
It was the one aspect of their game that, not for the first time, was slightly off and occasionally stalled their rhythm. Everything else is flowing along perfectly, and as Darragh O'Donovan insinuated in his man-of-the-match interview, it could be about to get better.
"This is a squad effort. It's 37 players. For the first time ever, on Tuesday night, we had everyone, everyone of the 37 training on Tuesday night.
"They're all pushing for places ahead of the Waterford game," he said on TG4.
Meanwhile, John Kiely wasn't even happy.
"Wouldn't be happy with the performance overall," he said. "Two weeks out from championship, it needs to be more cohesive from our perspective. What was on show today won't be good enough in two weeks time..."
God bless you Davy Fitzgerald and the Déise...