Both lined out enough likely championship starters to make it a genuine contest and kept a fine crowd interested with variations that could yet figure during the summer.
Among them were Brian Geary at full-back for Limerick and Séamus Hickey in front of him. “It was chance for panellists who hadn’t figured in the league like Thomas Ryan and Shane O’Neill to push their claims,” explained Allen.
“I was impressed by the team’s character to come back strong,” commented Baker as Offaly shaved the gap from nine points back to four before Limerick’s top marksman Shane Dowling closed the scoring with a free.
However, despite sharing 45 scores under trying conditions, neither side threatened a goal and seemed content to pick scores from distance.
A run of wides prevented Offaly getting a return from the breeze as neither side could break away early on. When Limerick got on top in the middle after the quarter mark, Dowling’s free put them four points ahead but Shane Dooley and Joe Bergin led the visitors to trim it back to 0-10 to 0-8 at the break.
Offaly took their time to readjust to four half-time changes, giving Limerick a chance to quickly extend their lead on the back of Dowling’s frees and they held out despite Cathal Parlon scoring four times from play in the closing minutes.
Scorers for Limerick: S Dowling 0-10 (8f), T O’Brien 0-4, S O’Brien 0-2, C Allis 0-2, M Ryan 0-2, N Maher 0-2, G Mulcahy 0-1, S Hickey 0-1, G O’Mahony 0-1.
Offaly scorers: S Dooley 0-5 (3f, 1 ‘65’), C Parlon 0-4, J Bergin 0-2, B Carroll 0-2, K Brady 0-2, B Murphy 0-1, B Harding 0-1, J > Mulrooney 0-1, G Healion 0-1, C Egan 0-1.
LIMERICK: A Murphy; R McCarthy, B Geary, S O’Neill; T Ryan, S Hickey, P O’Brien; C Allis, T O’Brien; S Dowling, N Maher, Seanie O’Brien; S Tobin, K Downes, M Ryan.
Subs: G Mulcahy for S O’Brien (23 mins), G O’Mahony for P O’Brien (49 mins), T Quaid for G Mulcahy (56 mins), J Ryan for C Allis (58 mins), W McNamara for S Tobin (70 mins).
OFFALY: J Dempsey; C McDonald, D Kenny, J Rigney; K Brady, J Brady, C Hernan; B Harding, B Carroll; B Murphy, C Mahon, C Parlon; S Dooley, J Bergin, J Mulrooney.
Subs: P Cleary for J Brady (30 mins), D Franks for J Rigney (ht), C Egan for B Murphy (ht), G Healion for C Mahon (ht), D Mooney for J Bergin (ht), T Carroll for S Dooley (55 mins).
Referee: S Hourigan (Limerick).