Limerick 1-11 Galway 1-18
A young and inexperienced Limerick side were denied a shock Allianz NHL Division 1 win when Galway staged a late rally at Kilmallock.
Substitute Iarla Tannian grabbed a 54th minute goal and further points from substitute Niall Healy and free-taker Ger Farragher saw a heavily-fancied Galway prevail.
Alan O’Connor struck five points as Limerick battled to a 1-7 to 0-9 half-time lead, with Cathal Mullane scoring a 13th minute goal.
But Paudie McNamara missed a second half penalty and Galway took control, outscoring the hosts by 1-9 to 0-4.
Beleaguered Limerick manager Justin McCarthy would not talk about the controversy surrounding the panel of 2009 but admitted to being 'happy with the performance' of his new-look team in this afternoon's league opener.
Between players being dropped, withdrawing their services or retiring, Limerick lined out today with only two survivors - Paul Browne and Paudie McNamara - from the side that started last year's heavy All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Tipperary.
But the gutsy Shannonsiders were very much in contention until the 50th minute and indeed the sides were level on four occasions in the first half.
In sunny conditions and in front of a vocal crowd, Graeme Mulcahy almost got in for a Limerick goal, two minutes before the break, but his effort was deflected out for a '65' which Alan O'Connor pointed to give the hosts a slender interval lead.
Midfielder Ger Farragher had nudged Galway ahead after just 20 seconds, he added a sideline cut and Cyril Donnellan scored from play as John McIntyre's charges started well.
Mulcahy and O'Connor (free) collected Limerick's opening points and they were back level when McNamara's ball in was crashed to the net by Mullane and O'Connor tagged on a point for 1-3 to 0-6.
Team captain Bryan O'Sullivan, Anthony Owens and Mulcahy all impressed in attack for McCarthy's men, but goalkeeper Tadhg Flynn had to be alert to deflect an Aidan Harte shot over the crossbar as Galway, the newly-crowned Walsh Cup champions, pressed late in the half.
Limerick had a great goal-scoring chance, two minutes into the second period, when O'Connor was fouled but McNamara's effort was cleared off the line for a '65' which O'Connor duly pointed.
Farragher and McNamara traded scores at 1-9 to 0-10, but Galway boss McIntyre made two telling substitutions when he brought Iarla Tannian and Niall Healy on in the 47th minute.
Tannian finished with a 1-2 tally and Healy also shone as the Tribesmen dominated in the final quarter-hour.
After Tannion's goal, Galway added another seven points to flesh out the final score. Limerick had to wait until the final few minutes for points from O'Sullivan and O'Connor, before Tannian had the final say for the visitors.
With Galway leading by 1-13 to 1-9, Farragher had a sight of goal but his ground shot was off target and Limerick's best opportunity for a late goal was wasted when O'Sullivan's run in from the left wing came to nothing.