Defeat against Cavan and Limerick’s position at the foot of the table would have become more precarious. But they broke the resistance of the Ulster team with second-half goals by Stephen Kelly and Pa Ranahan. Survival is not assured yet but there is now a route to safety within Limerick’s compass.
“We said before the game that we had one target and that was to win the match,” explained a relieved Horan afterwards. “That was very satisfying and hopefully we can build on that. There were periods in the first half when we weren’t happy but we are good when we are on the front foot and that is the way we want to play football.”
Limerick produced dazzling offensive form in the first-half. By half-time they had chalked up 0-10, with five of their starting forwards assisting in the accumulation of that total. After 20 minutes the teams were locked at 0-4 apiece, but Limerick closed out the half in storming fashion to surge five points clear at the break.
Cavan looked to mercurial attacker Seanie Johnston for inspiration but he was well shadowed by Limerick dual defender Mark O’Riordan. It was left to Cian Mackey to pick up the scoring slack for Cavan and he notched two lovely points. O’Riordan diligently stuck to his task of shackling Johnston in the second-half and rendering him scoreless from play proved a key facet in Limerick’s victory.
Clearly, manager Val Andrews was unimpressed with Cavan’s first-half play as he introduced three substitutes at the start of the second-half. Initially it remedied Cavan’s problems as Gareth Smith posted two quick points. But they spurned a glorious goal chance in the 37h minute when Givney was sent through unopposed but he inexplicably fumbled the ball and the chance was lost.
That miss looked costly when Limerick found the net in the 47th minute after Stephen Kelly crowned a trademark run with an assured finish. Limerick were cruising with a six point lead, yet Cavan’s superiority began to define the second-half play. They picked away at Limerick’s advantage with some well-worked points and quietened their opponents attack. When centre-back John McCutcheon burst forward to tie the game at 1-11 to 0-14 in the 65th minute, Cavan held the initiative.
However, the match swung decisively in Limerick’s direction in a 90 second period. Firstly, Cavan corner-back Stephen Jordan was sent-off for a second yellow card, then Collins clipped over a free before wing-back Pa Ranahan seized a James Kelly pass and slotted home his team’s second goal. From there Limerick were in control and despite Ian Ryan’s 72nd minute point being their only point from play in the second-half, they did enough to triumph.
Scorers for Limerick: G Collins 0-5 (frees); I Ryan 0-4 (0-1 free); S Kelly, P Ranahan 1-0 each; S Buckley, E O’Connor, J Cooke, M Sheehan, J Mullane 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cavan: S Johnston 0-3 (frees); M Cahill, G Smith (0-1 ‘45), C Mackey 0-2 each; J McCutcheon, R Cullivan, K Fannin, D O’Dowd, E Keating, D Givney 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: B Scanlon; M Riordan, S Gallagher, L O’Dwyer; J Riordan, J McCarthy, P Ranahan; J Galvin, T Lee; E O’Connor, S Kelly, S Buckley; I Ryan, G Collins, J Mullane.
Subs: M Sheehan for O’Dwyer (inj) (7), J Cooke for Buckley (blood) (25), Buckley for Cooke (27), J Hoare for Riordan (47), J Kelly for Mullane (56), J Cooke for O’Connor (62)
CAVAN: J Reilly; A Clarke, D Sheridan, S Jordan; M McKeever, J McCutcheon, M Cahill; R Cullivan, P O’Reilly; K Fannin, G Smith, R Flanagan; C Mackey, M Brennan, S Johnston.
Subs: D O’Dowd for Clarke (31), E Keating for Fannin (half-time), D Givney for Brennan (half-time), M Lyng for McKeever (56).
Referee: Michael Collins (Cork).