Ryan on fire for rampant Limerick

IT was men against boys at the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday night, where Limerick shocked last year’s All-Ireland semi-finalists Meath in emphatic style.

The incredible win was orchestrated by an Ian Ryan hat-trick and near perfect displays from full-back Johnny McCarthy, centre-back Stephen Lavin, midfielder John Galvin and centre-forward James Ryan.

Limerick proved that in this mood, they are as good as any team left in the Championship.

A delighted Limerick boss Mickey Ned O’Sullivan said: “I always knew we had a very good bunch of players, and tonight they showed just how good they are. They played exceptionally well and the way I wanted them to which is very pleasing. We had our homework done on Meath and we were confident going into the game we would win.

“But I could not envisage such a scoreline. Meath are Meath and we expected them to make it very difficult for us, but on the night they simply had no answer to our fire and passion.

“We had some magnificent performances out there. John Galvin was superb for us at midfield. He has been the best midfielder in the country consistently over the last ten years. I make no apology for saying that. He’s been ploughing a lone furrow, and hopefully he will now get the respect he deserves. It’s a tremendous lift for all of us after the shattering defeat by Cork, but we must keep our feet firmly on the ground.”

Meath coach Colm Coyle was as at loss to explain his side’s destruction.

“Twelve months ago we were on the wrong end of an 11 points defeat at the hands of Cork; recently we lost a 10 point lead against Wexford and tonight we got another drubbing. Something has gone seriously wrong with Meath football and I’m at a loss to know the cause. I’ll take responsibility for lots of things, but I cannot accept what happened out there tonight. It was the worse Meath performance I can ever remember.”

The first real fallout for Meath was the Graham Geraghty’s retirement from inter-county football.

“I’ve played my last game for Meath. A hamstring restricted me and I didn’t get to start. We had come down here expecting the win, but we had no answer to Limerick on the night. Maybe the seven week gap from the Wexford match had something to do with it. There will have to be some team building done, but for me it’s the end of the road.

No one in the attendance of 4,526 could have foreseen what was to come when the sides lined up for the throw in. Right from the start Limerick served notice of their intentions. After missing some glorious chances, Limerick steadied and once Ian Ryan converted a penalty for a foul on Johnny Crowley after 11 minutes, the floodgates opened.

With James Ryan orchestrating the play to perfection at centre-forward, and full back Johnny McCarthy and wing back Padraig Browne coming forward at every opportunity, Ian Ryan struck for his second major when John Galvin’s effort came back off the upright and Ryan was on hand to palm home.

Limerick were rampant and Meath were powerless to stop them. At half time the home side led 2-6 to 0-3 and it got worse for the Royals on the changeover as Ian Ryan completed his hat-trick and big John Galvin struck a bullet to the net which gave the Shannonsiders and incredible 4-11 to 0-3 lead midway through the second half.

Meath brought on Geraghty and Joe Sheridan attempting to salvage some pride and they succeeded in scoring four goals, two of them by Sheridan, but they only served to put a more respectable look on the scoreboard as Limerick recorded a famous victory.

More in this section

Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Home Delivery


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.