However, it was a frustrating afternoon for new Sligo boss Niall Carew, whose team was hit with a vomiting bug, necessitating the withdrawal of midfielder Pat Hughes. He also bemoaned the loss of wing-back Brian Curran who was dismissed 20 minutes into the second half at a time when the Connacht side led 1-8 to 0-8. “I thought the referee was very hard on us,” said Carew. “The sending off was definitely a turning point. We had momentum. We were three points up. We had one of our best player’s red-carded (yellow followed by a black card).
“Limerick took full advantage. They kicked their scores and came at us in droves.”
After dominating most of the first half, Limerick went 0-5 to 0-1 up, and were 0-6 to 0-4 ahead at the break. Gearoid Hegarty, Thomas Lee and Seanie Buckley were strong around the middle with Mikey Lyons taking full advantage kicking four points from placed balls. The hosts stretched the advantage to double scores five minutes inside the restart through Lee and Lyons before they lost Darragh Treacy to a black card. But that work was undone at the other end when Adrian Marren netted to hand Sligo the initiative.
A further three points put the Yeats County 1-8 to 0-8 in front. It was then Curran was sent off with 15 minutes remaining. Sligo also had to replace Keelan Cawley to a black card five minutes later.
From there to the end, it was all Limerick as Buckley, Lyons, Stephen Cahill, Robert Browne, Killian Phair and Peter Nash found the range. Boss John Brudair was delighted with the winning start — and the manner it was achieved.
“When Sligo got the goal, you could say they were in the driving seat. But really the lads dug in great in the last 10 or 15 minutes and stayed nice and calm. We are delighted with the win. We dominated the game for the first 20 minutes and probably should have been well up. We missed a goal chance, they took theirs and yet we didn’t lose heart. We just kept doing the right things.”
Scorers for Limerick: M Lyons (0-6, four frees), S Buckley (0-3, one free), R Browne, T Lee, K Phair, S Cahill and P Nash (0-1 each).
Scorers for Sligo: A Marren (1-4, 0-1 45m, 0-2 frees, 0-1 sl), K Sweeney (0-3), N Murphy and S Gilmartin (0-1 each).
LIMERICK: B Scanlon; C Moran, J McCarthy, R Browne; I Corbett, P Browne, S O’Dea; T Lee, G Hegarty; C Fahy, D Treacy, S Buckley (Capt); M Lyons, C Sheehan, D Neville.
Subs: S Cahill for D Tracey (BC 40), P Nash for C Moran (50), K Phair for M Lyons (53), J Mullins for I Corbett (72).
SLIGO: A Devaney; E Flanagan, R Donovan, D Maye; K Cawley, N Gaughan, B Curran; S Gilmartin, S McManus; N Ewing, M Breheny (Capt), C Harrison; N Murphy, A Marren, K Sweeney.
Subs: D Kelly for D Maye (53), J Martyn for S McManus (54), C Kerins for K Cawley (BC 59), P Clarke for K Sweeney (63 inj).
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).