Limerick 2-16 Offaly 4-10
Shane Dooley’s stoppage-time penalty rescued a crucial draw for Offaly at the Gaelic Grounds tonight.
Dooley stepped forward in the third minute of injury-time to ensure that this Allianz National Hurling League Division 1B fixture ended in stalemate.
The quality of hurling on show was generally poor and scrappy but there was a lively finish for 2274 punters as Offaly came from six points down with 13 minutes left to draw.
Dooley was the hero with a scoring haul of 2-5 but the Tullamore man missed a 42nd-minute penalty and for a while, it looked like that would prove costly.
But when a second chance presented itself, Dooley showed no fear and secured what could be a priceless draw for the Faithful County in the hunt for a final place.
The visitors trailed by two points at half-time, however, as Niall Moran and Sean Tobin netted for Limerick before the break.
The hosts led by 2-6 to 1-7 at the midway point and were six points clear, 2-12 to 1-9, with 13 minutes remaining.
But Offaly dug in and hit three goals down the home straight as Limerick lost corner back Tom Condon to a second yellow card after Offaly sub Sean Ryan was fouled for the late penalty.
Conor Mahon gave Offaly hope with a 58th minute goal before sub Ger Healion, who had created Mahon’s goal, netted himself in the 65th minute.
Limerick rallied again, however, to lead by three points in stoppage time before Dooley’s late, late intervention.
Both teams had come into this tussle level on four points in Division 1B – having both collected two wins from their opening three matches.
Limerick’s campaign had started in nightmare fashion with a heavy home defeat against Clare but they have improved since then and would have fancied their chances before throw-in last night.
The first half was generally poor and error-ridden but still yielded three goals – two of them for the home side.
But Offaly struck first in the 13th minute when Derek Morkan’s long delivery into the Limerick full-back line broke nicely for Dooley, who lashed the loose ball past Nickie Quaid.
That goal effectively separated the sides for the next 15 minutes before Limerick hit two before half-time to open up a 2-6 to 1-7 interval lead.
Conor Allis knifed through the heart of the Offaly defence in the 28th minute with a surging run before placing Niall Moran for a neat improvised finish, as the full-forward batted the sliotar two-handed past James Dempsey.
On the stroke of half-time, Dempsey was picking the ball out of his net again, this time from Limerick sub Sean Tobin, who was on the pitch less than ten minutes before shooting across the boughs of the Kinnitty netminder.
Offaly also had a first half goal ruled out, when Colin Egan was adjudged to have been in the square when he bundled the sliotar home after Brendan Murphy’s shot was well-saved by Nickie Quaid.
LIMERICK: N Quaid; S Walsh, R McCarthy, T Condon; W McNamara, D O’Grady, G O’Mahoney; P Browne 0-1, J Ryan; N Maher 0-1, D Breen 0-2, C Allis 0-4 (2f, 1 65); G Mulcahy 0-2, N Moran 1-0, T Quaid 0-3.
Subs: S Tobin 1-2 for Maher (27), K Downes for Moran (57), S O’Brien 0-1 for Breen (63), M Ryan for T Quaid (70+3).
OFFALY: J Dempsey; C McDonald, D Kenny, S Wynne; D Morkan, R Hanniffy, D Franks; D Horan 0-1, J Rigney 0-2; J Bergin, C Mahon 1-0, B Murphy 0-2; S Dooley 2-5 (1-0 pen, 0-3f, 0-1 65, 0-1 sl), C Egan, J Mulrooney.
Subs: G Healion 1-0 for Egan (h.t.), S Coughlan for Wynne (h.t.), T Carroll for Mulrooney (49), S Ryan for Rigney (57), E Murphy for Hanniffy (70).
Referee: C McAllister (Cork).