TJ Ryan happy as ‘professional’ 14-man Limerick survive

Limerick 1-24 Westmeath 0-18: Plenty of questions have been asked of Limerick since they crashed out of the Munster championship at the hands of 14-man Tipperary, but after another test of their mettle in Mullingar, Limerick are just one win from an All-Ireland quarter-final.

TJ Ryan happy as ‘professional’ 14-man Limerick survive

This time it was TJ Ryan’s side that had to cope with playing most of the game a man down, after Seanie O’Brien’s red card after 30 minutes. And like Tipp, when faced with adversity, they found their true character with Shane Dowling at the heart of the response.

Limerick looked truly rattled at that stage. They had led by five points early on playing into a gale, but the sending-off arrived at Westmeath’s period of real dominance.

A man down and a point down at the break, this was the time for Limerick to show their class.

“I thought our second-half performance was professional. A nine-point win, I’ll take it. It was a positive performance. We needed the confidence, we need to build on it and we need to get a good week and turn around again,” said TJ Ryan.

“I’m fully aware that we have to improve. It’s a quick turnaround. We have a few lads with a couple of knocks, and tired bodies from during the week with the 21s. But it’s a good win, I’ll take it any day, nine points.”

After a season that has delivered so much progress, Westmeath will be disappointed with Saturday’s result.

Had Brendan Murtagh scored his penalty in the 49th minute his side would have taken a one-point lead and halted Limerick’s second-half charge. But he missed and at the other end Dowling was unerring.

“Devastated isn’t the word, there’s no doubt about that. We played a lot of really good hurling in the first-half but I really felt today that it was there for us and we just didn’t take it,” said Westmeath boss Michael Ryan.

“I think if we had got a goal in the first ten or 15 minutes of the second half it’d have been a different story. But look, it’s a game of inches. Unfortunately, the inches fell on the wrong side today.”

Afterwards, Michael Ryan indicated that he is keen to stay on for another year to continue the growth of hurling in Westmeath, but Limerick still have plenty of improving to do in the short term.

Scorers for Limerick:

S Dowling (0-14, 10 frees, 2 65s); K Downes, D Hannon (0-3 each); G Mulcahy (1-0); J Ryan, P Browne, D O’Donovan, D Reidy (0-1 each)

Scorers for Westmeath:

N O’Brien (0-11, 7 frees, 1 65, 1 sl); B Murtagh (1 free), A Clarke (0-2 each); A Craig, C Boyle, A Devine (0-1 each)

LIMERICK:

N Quaid; S O’Brien, D Morrissey, R English; D Byrnes, G O’Mahony, P O’Brien; J Ryan, D O’Donovan; B Nash, D Hannon, P Browne; K Downes, S Dowling, G Mulcahy.

Subs for Limerick:

G Hegarty for Nash (50), R McCarthy for Morrissey (59), D Reidy for Hannon (59), A Dempsey for Ryan (63), T Condon for English (66).

WESTMEATH:

P Maloney; C Shaw, T Doyle, T Gallagher; A Craig, A Clarke, A McGrath; C Boyle, E Price; N O’Brien, B Murtagh, A Devine; D Egerton, D McNicholas, N Mitchell.

Subs for Westmeath:

R Greville for McNicholas (47), L Varley for McGrath (49), K Doyle for Mitchell (55), G Greville for Shaw (69)

Referee:

A Kelly (Galway)

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