Dublin were gallant. And for a brief moment in the second half, after the Limerick defence gifted them a third goal, they were level. Then players like Conor Fitzgerald and James O’Brien created two goals in a minute.
Paudie O’Dwyer fell heavily in the 17th minute and will learn today the seriousness of the injury to his collar-bone.
Limerick crammed in seven points in the first 11 minutes. Dublin’s solitary score in the first 15 minutes came from captain David Curtin.
A two-goal burst in the 18th and 19th minute saw the hosts take an unlikely lead. Firstly Maghnus Breathnach provided a finish worthy of the excellent run that Dublin centre-back Ronan Fallon made in creating the chance, flicking the ball over Ger O’Connell’s head as the Limerick keeper rushed from his goal. A moment later, Emmet Carroll fired an unstoppable shot past the helpless O’Connell.
Although Alan O’Connor brought the teams level with a free in the 23rd minute, Dublin were making life difficult for Limerick. TJ Ryan’s effectiveness as a full-forward was never really examined in the first half, as Humphrey Kelleher had decided to play Tommy Moore as a sweeper in front of Ryan.
And Moore was doing a good job. Limerick still created a handful of goal chances, but found Dublin keeper Gary Maguire in inspired form.
He saved Andrew O’Shaughnessy’s snap-shot in the 24th minute, denied O’Connor twice and Donie Ryan once. He was assisted by the meek nature of Limerick’s finishing, and they needed Peter Lawlor to arrive from the half-back line to split the posts and ensure Limerick went in at the interval ahead, 0-10 to 2-3.
There must have been a rollicking or two in the Limerick dressing-room at half-time because they started the second half like this match meant something to them. Within two minutes, O’Shaughnessy had netted their first goal, reacting quickest to James O’Brien’s side-line cut and burying the sliotar past Maguire. O’Shaughnessy’s goal should have instigated a flood. Instead, Limerick went back to sleep and Dublin fought back into the game.
Emmet Carroll was in inspired form and his lobbed pass into the full-forward line was caught by Breathnach’s hurl in the 51st minute and trickled past O’Connell. A minute later, Fallon fired the ball over the bar and the sides were level with only 18 minutes remaining.
It took a moment of magic from James O’Brien to turn things around. He spun past a couple of Dublin defenders and bore down on Maguire. Although the keeper saved the initial shot, he could do little about O’Brien’s follow-up. Forty-five seconds later, Mick Cahill added Limerick’s third goal.
: Limerick: A O’Shaughnessy (1-3), M Cahill (1-1), J O’Brien (1-1, 1free), C Fitzgerald (0-3), A O’Connor (0-2, frees), TJ Ryan, JP Sheahan, P Lawlor, O Moran (0-1 each) Dublin: M Breathnach (2-0), D Curtin (0-5, 4 frees, 1 65), E Carroll (1-1), R Fallon, D Sweeney (0-1 each)
: G O’Connell; D Reale, S Lucey, M Foley, P O’Dwyer, O Moran, B Geary; P Cahill, D O’Grady; C Fitzgerald, JP Sheahan, A O’Shaughnessy, D Ryan, TJ Ryan, A O’Connor Subs P Lawlor for O’Dwyer (18 mins), M Cahill for O’Connor(h-t), J O’Brien for Sheahan (23 mins), M Clifford for P Cahill (60 mins)
: G Maguire; G Bennett, S Daly, S O’Shea, S Hiney, R Fallon, D O’Reilly; D Sweeney, K Meehan; G O’Meara, D Curtin, M Carton, E Carroll, M Breathnach, T Moore Subs D Spain for Daly (55 mins), S Mullen for Moore (63 mins), A McCrabbe for Curtin (68 mins).
: T McIntyre (Antrim).