Limerick pounce late for points

Offaly 1-8 Limerick 0-12

Having accounted for Leitrim the previous week, this was a significant triumph for Maurice Horan’s charges in terms of their drive for promotion from the basement division.

Facing the elements, Limerick deployed centre-forward John Riordan as an extra defender during the first half and this tactic suffocated the supply to Offaly dangerman and captain Niall McNamee, who shook off a quad injury to take his place in the starting line-up.

Brian Connor’s 10th minute goal, following a delightful McNamee pass, provided Offaly with a 1-1 to 0-2 lead.

Both sides added five more points apiece before half-time. Limerick goalkeeper Brian Scanlon expertly converted two long-range frees, while Ian Ryan slotted over two frees closer to the target and corner-back Mark O’Riordan popped up with a 30th minute equalising point, 1-4 to 0-7.

Two McNamee points, one after Scanlon misdirected a kickout that was gathered by Anton Sullivan, gave Offaly a 1-6 to 0-7 interval cushion.

Just as Limerick packed their defence in the opening half, Offaly did likewise, deploying Sullivan in a deep role.

Offaly also emerged for the second half with a changed set of jerseys as the back of the ones they started the game with looked very similar to their opponents.

Referee Shane Hehir was fussy, blowing for almost 50 frees and he brandished ten yellow cards in all as both teams were focused on containment.

And with the threat of a possible second yellow hanging over them Offaly sub Shane Sullivan was called ashore after just 11 minutes on the pitch, while Limerick also withdrew O’Riordan.

Graham Guilfoyle’s 41st minute point left a goal separating the sides, 1-7 to 0-7, and with Offaly becoming increasingly defensive, Limerick were patient as they went about trying to carve out scoring opportunities.

The second half was seventeen minutes old when half back Stephen Lavin clipped over Limerick’s first point since the 30th minute and they simply grew in confidence after this.

Eoghan O’Connor and Ryan (free) levelled proceedings for the third occasion, 1-7 to 0-10, by the 58th minute. McNamee missed a free he’d usually convert but when Brian Darby surged forward and set up Connor for his second point it regained the lead for the visitors. With Limerick dominating the midfield stakes through Bobby O’Brien and Thomas Lee, they refused to panic. Accurate Ryan, with his fifth point (fourth from a free) levelled it and O’Connor’s excellent 68th minute point ensured that Limerick claimed the spoils against an Offaly side that failed to make their scoring opportunities count.

Offaly did have a last-gasp chance to salvage something from the encounter but Sean Pender’s strike flew wide when he might have better advised to fist over for a levelling point.

Overall the Treaty County were much more economical as they amassed just three wides, whereas Offaly manager Emmet McDonnell was left to rue the ten that his side recorded.

OFFALY: A Mulhall; B Darby, E Rigney, S Pender; D Hanlon, D Kelly, G Guilfoyle 0-1; A McNamee, M Brazil; R Brady, B Connor 1-2, E Carroll; N McNamee 0-4 (0-3 f), B Allen, A Sullivan 0-1.

Subs: P Cunningham for Carroll (31 mins), S Sullivan for Brazil (44), R Dalton for Allen (51), P McConway for S Sullivan (55), J Moloney for A McNamee (61).

LIMERICK: B Scanlon 0-2 f; C Coady, J McCarthy, M O’Riordan 0-1; S Lavin 0-1, P Browne, P Ranahan; T Lee, B O’Brien; J O’Meara, J O’Riordan 0-1, D O’Connor; E O’Connor 0-2, G Collins, I Ryan 0-5 (0-4 f).

Subs: M Sheehan for Coady (46 mins), S O’Carroll for O’Meara (48), I Corbett for D O’Connor (51), L O’Dwyer for O’Riordan (60).

Referee: S Hehir, Galway.

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