Kilkenny's insatiable desire for All-Ireland success drove them to their fifth title in eight years when they clinically jettisoned Limerick's dreams of glory in a riveting decider at Croke Park yesterday.
Once again, the Cats' towering character, elegant skills and potent finishing proved central attributes, ultimately ensuring the county's 30th crown thus placing them on a level par with Cork.
And in writing yet another memorable chapter in their glorious hurling history, Kilkenny proved that even when fate tends to conspire against them they can still emerge triumphant.
Stripped of the services of full back Noel Hickey at an early stage with hamstring trouble and then forced to play the entire second half without skipper Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny unveiled the depth of talent and resolve within their squad when they shook off this twin handicap to claim a 7-point cushion at the finish.
John Tennyson and Richie Power revelled in their role as substitutes for Hickey and Shefflin. In a hard, physically demanding encounter in which Limerick's honest intensity and fierce resolve were not quite sufficient to halt the Kilkenny bandwagon. With less than ten minutes gone, Kilkenny had galloped into a 2-3 to nil lead - the superb Eddie Brennan and Shefflin had already found the Limerick net - and even at this early juncture it seemed as if Richie Bennis's side were lambs to the slaughter.
But by the 19th minute, thanks in the main to the busy Ollie Moran, they had put five points on the board and tightened up rather more at the back.
But Kilkenny, full of movement and purpose, appeared to be able to engage a higher gear almost at will and with Eoin Larkin joining Brennan in the sharp shooting stakes, they were ahead by 2-7 to 0-6 by the 27th minute by which time Limerick had been forcibly reminded that winning an All-Ireland title required a massive input.
In this connection, their tendency to squander possession, take wrong options and slavishly adhere to a limited attacking strategy were already creating whisps of serious doubt.
By half time, Kilkenny's 2-10 to 0-8 lead looked sufficiently solid to suggest that their second period would be a formality.
And yet, despite the fact that not one of the Limerick full forward line was to score from play throughout, this did not quite prove to be the case.
The heroic efforts of skipper Damien Reale, Stephen Lucey and Mark Foley in the Limerick rearguard not only heightened Kilkenny's sense of frustration but provided the platform on which Limerick built a commendable onslaught which did not quite come to full fruition.
With full forward Brian Begley well contained by the twin forces of Brian Hogan and Jackie Tyrrell and Andrew O'Shaughnessy's scoring input being restricted to frees, the Limerick attack visibly lacked a killer punch.
And when Kilkenny substitute Richie Power lived up to his surname by flinging over four points, Brian Cody's side were never in any real danger of losing the initiative. Limerick managed to reduce the deficit to five points at one stage but the relief was all too temporary - normal business resumed when Kilkenny finished with a flourish, Power and Brennan (twice) spooning over points that kept them comfortably clear of their gallant but technically inferior opponents.
For Kilkenny it was sweet success - a victory honed out through their well-chronicled teamwork, cohesion and unique spirit.
Kilkenny scorers: E Brennan (1-5), H Shefflin (1-2, 0-1 free), E Larkin (0-4), T Walsh (0-3), R Power (0-4, 0-3 frees), A Fogarty (0-1).
Limerick scorers: A O'Shaughnessy (0-7, all frees), O Moran (1-3), D O'Grady (0-2), M Fitzgerald, S O'Connor, N Moran (0-1 each).
KILKENNY: P J Ryan; M Kavanagh, N Hickey, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, J J Delaney; D Lyng, J Fitzpatrick; E Brennan, H Shefflin, E Larkin; W O'Dwyer, M Comerford, A Fogarty. Substitutes: J Tennyson for Hickey 23 mins, R Power for O'Dwyer 26 mins, M Fennelly for Shefflin half time. Yellow cards: Hickey 23 mins, Fitzpatrick 36 mins.
LIMERICK: B Murray; D Reale, S Lucey, S Hickey; P Lawlor, B Geary, M Foley; D O'Grady, M O'Brien; M Fitzgerald, O Moran, S O'Connor; A O'Shaughnessy, B Bagley, D Ryan. Substitutes: N Moran for O'Brien half time, J O'Brien for O'Connor 44 mins, P Tobin for Fitzgerald 48 mins, K Tobin for Ryan 57 mins, M O'Riordan for Lawlor 67 mins. Yellow card: Geary 17 mins.
Referee: D Kirwan (Cork).