Allianz HL D1B: Limerick too good for Offaly
Allianz Hurling League Division 1B
LIMERICK 1-24 OFFALY 0-10
By Kevin Egan at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park
Limerick’s greater efficiency in front of the posts and shrewd use of the puckout were key factors this afternoon as John Kiely’s side comfortably overcame Offaly at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park, moving to the top of the Allianz Division 1B table in the process.
A competitive first quarter suggested that this game had the potential to go down to the wire but Limerick’s marginal supremacy in general play meant that the Faithful County had to take the vast majority of their chances to stay in contention – instead it went the other way as they racked up 14 wides, including a first half penalty from Damien Egan and a second half goal opportunity that was mishit by Shane Dooley.
A healthy crowd of 4,640 supporters filed into the Tullamore venue hoping to see their teams build on strong starts against Dublin and Laois in the first round of this league campaign, and they certainly got a high tempo, physically intense battle in the early stages of the contest.
A choppy field made fluid hurling very difficult and with both sets of defences on top, it fell to the freetakers, Damien Egan and Aaron Gillane, to keep the scoreboard moving in the early stages. Cian Lynch lit up the occasion with a magnificent strike from right on the touchline underneath the stand while Dan Currams and Seamus Flanagan also got on the scoresheet from play.
However with Limerick leading by the odd point in nine, Offaly were handed a glorious chance to take the lead after Shane Kinsella was pulled down by Paddy O’Loughlin as he charged in on goal. Damien Egan’s penalty sailed a yard wide of the top corner however, and while Tommy Geraghty soon levelled for the home sides, Limerick took over for the remainder of the contest.
Nicky Quaid’s restarts were superb as he picked out players in space all across the middle third of the field, while Diarmuid Byrnes and Paul Browne were hugely influential as they drove forward from deep positions to pick off five points between them over the course of the tie. Up front Aaron Gillane was accurate from dead balls while Tom Morrissey and Darragh O’Donovan also posed a threat from the half-forward line.
A 0-12 to 0-7 interval lead was soon pushed out by Limerick adding five of the next seven scores after the break, while any ideas Offaly might have entertained of a comeback were dealt a further blow when wing back Dermot Shortt was shown a second yellow card for a third man tackle early in the second half.
Shane Dooley’s introduction failed to fire up the home side as he added three wides to a tally that was mounting fast, and Limerick further emphasised their dominance when they struck the game’s only goal by the three quarter mark, Aaron Gillane slipping the ball to the net after Barry Murphy won a high ball and drove at the full back line to create an overlap.
Scorers for Offaly: Damien Egan 0-6 (0-4 frees), Dan Currams, Shane Kinsella, Tommy Geraghty & Colm Gath 0-1 each.
Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 1-8 (0-7 frees), Darragh O’Donovan (0-1 free) and Paul Browne 0-3 each, Diarmuid Byrnes, Tom Morrissey & Gearóid Hegarty 0-2 each, Cian Lynch, Seamus Flanagan, David Reidy, Oisín O’Reilly 0-1 each.
OFFALY: Conor Slevin; Tom Spain, Sean Gardiner, Ben Conneely; David O’Toole, Pat Camon, Dermot Shortt; Shane Kinsella, David King; Damien Egan, Colin Egan, Dan Currams; Oisín Kelly, Conor Mahon, Tommy Geraghty. Subs: Shane Dooley for Geraghty (HT), Cillian Kiely for King (46), Paddy Rigney for Mahon (57), Colm Gath for Kelly (61), Ciarán Cleary for C Egan (61)
LIMERICK: Nicky Quaid; Sean Finn, Seamus Hickey, Richie English; Diarmuid Byrnes, Dan Morrissey, Paddy O’Loughlin; Paul Browne, Cian Lynch; Tom Morrissey, Darragh O’Donovan, Barry O’Connell; Gearóid Hegarty, Seamus Flanagan, Aaron Gillane. Subs: Barry Murphy for O’Connell (53), David Reidy for T Morrissey (57), Oisín O’Reilly for Hegarty (63), Andrew LaTouche Cosgrove for Lynch (63), Lorcan Lyons for Gillane (67)
Ref: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny)