John Brudair’s side, without a win in five games ahead of their Sligo trip, needed a win in the north-west and Westmeath to lose — they got neither, as a season in the bottom tier beckons.
Although Limerick went 10 points down, 3-7 to 1-3, after Sligo’s third goal in the 46th minute, a gutsy revival saw them shoot six unanswered points in a 10-minute period to bring the gap back to three, 3-9 to 1-12, in added time.
Two of these points could have yielded goals but shots from Peter Nash and Thomas Lee were driven over Sligo net-minder Aidan Devaney’s crossbar rather than under.
The losers only scored twice in the first half, one of these scores was Darragh Tracey’s 14th-minute goal, and trailed by five points at half-time, 1-6 to 1-1.
Sligo, whose first goal was a sweet curling effort from teenager Kyle Cawley after 19 minutes, put themselves in control of matters when centre-back Brendan Egan goaled from Cian Breheny’s assist just 20 seconds after the re-start.
Brian Egan’s goal 11 minutes later — he tucked home from a rebound after Neil Ewing’s shot was blocked by Limerick net-minder Brian Scanlon –—appeared to leave Sligo coasting but a number of personnel changes, including Brendan Egan going off injured, left them vulnerable.
A plus for Sligo was Adrian Marren’s return from injury — he played the entire second half and contributed three points — while Adrian McIntyre, Niall Murphy, and Neil Ewing again impressed.
Limerick boss John Brudair was disappointed afterwards. He said: “In the second half, if you take away the two [Sligo] goals, I think we were as good as them. But we are not playing consistently well enough in games — 15/20 minutes of good play won’t be enough at this level.
“The results in the first two rounds certainly came back to haunt us.”
Niall Murphy (0-4, 2f), Brian Egan (1-1), Kyle Cawley (1-1), Brendan Egan (1-0), Adrian Marren (0-3, 2f), Adrian McIntyre (0-1)
Ian Ryan (0-4, 4f), Darragh Tracey (1-1), Danny Neville (0-2), Peter Nash (0-2), Killian Ryan (0-1), Brian Fanning (0-1), Thomas Lee (0-1)
A Devaney, D Maye, K McDonnell, C Harrison, K Cawley, B Egan, G O’Kelly-Lynch, A McIntyre, N Murphy, N Ewing, C Breheny, C Davey, K Cawley, P Hughes, B Egan
A Marren for P Hughes, h-t; D Rooney for G O’Kelly-Lynch, 52; P Clarke for B Egan, 62; L Henry for B Egan, 62
B Scanlon, J McCarthy, P Browne, S O’Dea, I Corbett, M Donovan, S Cahill, T Lee, D Tracey, C Sheehan, D Neville, A Enright, I Ryan, P Nash, G Noonan
C Fahy for M Donovan, 38; K Ryan for A Enright, 43; B Fanning for C Sheehan, 58 (black card); S McSweeney for I Ryan, 65; P White for S Cahill, 65
Paul Faloon (Dowd)