Limerick hammered Kerry at the Gaelic Grounds this afternoon – but could be staring at an eighth season in Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League, writes Jackie Cahill.
Wexford’s victory over Galway has Davy Fitzgerald’s men in the box-seat – with fellow promotion hopefuls Galway and Limerick now reliant on a slip-up from the Slaneysiders.
Wexford’s win overshadowed a decent Limerick performance this afternoon – as Ronan Lynch scored 3-11 for the hosts.
In front of just 1065 spectators, Limerick began knowing that score difference could come into play at the end of the group campaign.
They did their cause no harm with a 22-point win but Wexford’s win leaves the rest playing catch-up in the race for Division 1A fare in 2018.
Having lost to Wexford in their opening fixture, Limerick bounced back to claim their first victory of the campaign and it was Kerry who suffered their wrath.
Limerick beat Kerry by 4-28 to 0-16 in the Munster senior hurling League and inflicted another heavy beating on Fintan O’Connor’s visitors.
Ahead by ten points at the break, Limerick kicked on in the second half, as Lynch led the way in the scoring stakes with a massive haul.
Padraig Boyle’s hat-trick of goals for Kerry proved in vain as the Kingdom suffered their first defeat of the League campaign, having claimed victory over Laois last weekend.
Limerick could only take care of their own business and that they did, despite the spirited challenge of a Kerry team that finished with 14 men, when Shane Nolan was issued with a straight red card late on.
And Lynch could have finished with 4-10 rather than 3-11, as his second half penalty struck the crossbar and went over, rather than under.
But Lynch contented himself with three second half goals as Limerick eventually ran riot.
The hosts recovered from the concession of two Boyle goals to lead comfortably at half-time, 2-13 to 2-3.
Boyle grabbed his first goal in the tenth minute, finishing a fine move involving Shane Nolan and Colum Harty.
Limerick, playing with a slight breeze, rallied to lead by 0-7 to 1-1 before Boyle struck again eight minutes later, brilliantly fielding brother Mikey’s sideline ball before rattling a low drive into the corner of the net.
That score levelled the game at 2-1 to 0-7 but Limerick, with Seanie Tobin, Tom Morrissey and Ronan Lynch contributing all but one goal of their first half tally, won the remainder of the half by 2-6 to 0-2.
Limerick’s opening goal came in the 26th minute, as Graeme Mulcahy latched onto a precise ball from James Ryan to finish well.
And Tom Morrissey’s injury-time goal increased Limerick’s advantage, before Jordan Conway and Lynch traded points.
Lynch hit the net from a 20m free to kick-start the second half goal glut and 17 minutes from time, he was credited with a scruffy effort for his second major.
Kevin O’Brien’s first touch after coming on as sub saw him score Limerick’s fifth goal ten minutes from home, as Boyle replied in kind within a minute for Kerry.
Eight minutes from time, Lynch rattled his penalty off the crossbar and over, after O’Brien was fouled, before the Na Piarsaigh man completed his treble in the 67th minute, again from a blistering 20m free.
Scorers for Limerick: R Lynch 3-11 (2-5f, 0-2 65s, 0-1 pen), T Morrissey 1-3, G Mulcahy 1-1, S Tobin 0-4, K O’Brien 1-0, J Ryan & A La Touche Cosgrave 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry: P Boyle 3-0, S Nolan 0-5f, P Kelly, J Conway & J Goulding (f) 0-1 each.
Limerick: N Quaid; S Cahill, R McCarthy, R English; C Ryan, S Hickey, D Hannon; J Fitzgibbon, J Ryan; K Hayes, T Morrissey, C Lynch; G Mulcahy, R Lynch, S Tobin.
Subs: W O’Donoghue for Hayes (h.t.), D O’Donovan for C Lynch (44), P Ryan for Fitzgibbon (56), A La Touche Cosgrave for Mulcahy (56), K O’Brien for Tobin (59).
Kerry: A McCabe; B Murphy R Horgan, S Weir; P Costello, P Kelly, D Dineen; P O’Connor, C Harty; S Nolan, M Boyle, J Conway; K Carmody, P Boyle, J Goulding.
Subs: J O’Connor for M Boyle (h.t.), J Buckley for Costello (55), J Wallace for Carmody (58), S Murphy for Conway (58), J Godley for Kelly (59).
Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway)