Limerick’s lethal forwards run riot

Limerick 3-26 Antrim 0-12

In a division that could yet be decided by scoring difference, manager TJ Ryan was more than happy with his side’s second half after they only led 0-11 to 0-6 at half time when favoured by the wind.

“It was a good second half performance and we hit 3-20 from play so we would be happy with that — 3-20 from 3-26 is pleasing,” said Ryan.

“We looked for that in the second half and we got some good goals — it’s two points and with one the last day we would be happy with that at this stage. It’s February so its time to drive on and we have next weekend off so its back to the training ground for Wexford in a fortnight.

Limerick were quick from the blocks and had four points from play on the board inside four minutes with Conor Allis, Donal O’Grady and Seanie Tobin on the mark.

But then the hosts went 14-minutes without a score as Antrim had it back to 0-4 to 0-2 with Paul Shields on the mark.

Another scoring burst saw half back colleagues Wayne McNamara and Paudie O’Brien find the range as Limerick stretched their advantage to 0-9 to 0-4 with just under 10-minutes to the interval.

Darren Hamill and Niall McKenna briefly had Kevin Ryan’s Antrim back in touch but Allis ensured a five point cushion for Limerick at the break, 0-11 to 0-6.

Facing into a stiff wind, Limerick weren’t now looking the 1/33 certainties the bookies had made them. But they turned in a most professional and ruthless second half to continue on their promotion chase.

Free-taker Allis hit four early second half frees. He assumed the role in the absence of the rested Shane Dowling and just like the Na Piarsaigh man against Cork a week previous, Allis was to finish with 0-11.

Thomas O’Brien, Tommy Quaid and Tom Ryan were also on the mark and suddenly the game had slipped from Antrim’s grasp with Limerick 0-18 to 0-8 clear with just 15-minutes gone in the second period.

The final quarter goals sealed the impressive winning margin.

The first came in the 52nd minute when sub David Reidy weaved through a crowded goalmouth to fire to the net from close range.

Antrim were still reeling when Seanie Tobin fired home Limerick’s second just four minute later.

The scoreboard now read 2-19 to 0-10 with almost 15-minutes till to play.

Limerick introduced four debutantes and one of these, William Hickey, notched the final goal in the 66th minute.

He was to be one of 11 scorers from play for Limerick on a day when they were without four of last summer’s starting forwards.

Next up for Limerick is a top of the table clash with unbeaten Wexford in the Gaelic Grounds on March 9.

Scorers for Limerick: C Allis 0-11 (6f), S Tobin 1-3, T Ryan 0-4, D Reidy, W Hickey 1-0 each, W McNamara, T O’Brien 0-2 each, D O’Grady, P O’Brien, T Quaid, J Ryan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Antrim: P Shields 0-7 (3f), C Clarke, D Hamill, N McKenna, N McAuley, N McManus 0-1 each.

LIMERICK: N Quaid; S Walsh, T Condon, M Carmody; P O’Brien, W McNamara, G O’Mahony; D O’Grady, P Browne; T Ryan, J Ryan, C Allis; T O’Brien, T Quaid, S Tobin.

Subs: D Reidy for O’Grady (21), D Morrissey for O’Mahony (58), P O’Loughlin for Walsh (58), M Ryan for T Quaid (65), W Hickey for Browne (65).

ANTRIM: C O’Connell; C Johnson, C McKinley, M Bradley; C McGuinness, N McAuley, O McFadden; N McManus, M McFadden; P Shields, C Carson, N McKenna; D McKernan, D Hamill, C Clarke.

Subs: N Elliott for Clarke (h-t), E Campbell for O McFadden (h-t), B McFall for McGuinness (42), J McCreevey for M McFadden (49), C Jackson for McKenna (55).

Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath).

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