Manager John Brudair, in just his second game in charge, was delighted by his side’s more clinical use of possession: “We knew we left two points behind us in Sligo. But rather than being disappointed by the fact we missed so many chances, we concentrated on doing the simple things right and it worked for us today.”
However, while Buckley sealed the result when his penalty put Limerick nine points ahead with 12 minutes to go, the hosts had to endure a few nervous moments earlier on when Longford’s storming start to the second-half saw them the halve the deficit within minutes.
Building on John Keegan’s dominance of the kickout, they pressed the home defence and forced them into turning over possession. But they failed to land the knockout blow and, once the Limerick rearguard recovered its composure, breaks from the back stretched Longford.
Limerick looked far more at ease on the ball and showed greater variety and support when in possession. Longford’s main response was movement up through the middle but it all broke down nearer the goals as Seán McCormack looked rusty after returning from injury.
Limerick made quick use of the wind as Ian Ryan, John Riordan, Micheál Brosnan and Ryan’s free built up a tidy lead but they were fortunate to see Michael Quinn’s shot from Longfor’d first serious attack skim over the crossbar. After an exchange between Collins and Paul McKeon, the home side picked it up again through Iain Corbett, Buckley, Ryan and Ryan’s free before an injury time free from McCormack shaved Limerick’s half-time lead to 0-9 to 0-3. Peter Foy, McCormack’s free and Brian Farrell had the gap down to a goal as Longford restarted with a bang but the goal they needed was bagged at the other end as Collins skinned his marked and drilled past Damien Sheridan. For the next goal, he was dragged down by Shane Mulligan and Buckley’s resultant penalty left Longford with just the consolation of three excellent Brian Farrell points before the game ended.
Scorers for Limerick: I Ryan 0-4 (2f), G Collins, S Buckley (1-0 pen) 1-1 each, J Riordan, M Brosnan, I Corbett, M Fitzgibbon, J Mullane 0-1 each
Longford scorers: B Farrell 0-3, M Quinn, S McCormack (2f) 0-2 each, P McKeon, P Foy, P Gill, F McGee 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: D O’Sullivan; M O’Riordan, J McCarthy, J Riordan; I Corbett, P Browne, P Ranahan; T Lee, D Treacy; M Brosnan, E Hanrahan, S Buckley; S O’Carroll, G Collins, I Ryan.
Subs: J O’Meara (Ballysteen) for J Riordan (inj 15m), M Fitzgibbon for E Hanrahan (31m), G Hegarty for D Treacy (48m), J Mullane for S O’Carroll (61m), M Sheahan for P Ranahan (65 m), D Neville for M Brosnan (70 m).
LONGFORD: D Sheridan; D Brady, B Gilleran, F Battrim; A Rowan, E Williams, P Brady; J Keegan, M Brady; P McKeon, P Foy, M Quinn; B Farrell, S McCormack, F McGee.
Subs: S Mulligan for P Brady (ht), P Gill for P McKeon (ht), CP Smyth for E Williams (48m), D Cooney for P Foy (54m), D Keogh for S Mulligan (black card 58m), K Diffley for M Brady (68m).
Referee: D O’Mahony (Tipperary).