Dublin 1-16 Limerick 1-15
A Semple Stadium thriller brought a double measure of joy to a gutsy Dublin side, whose narrow win over Limerick in the NHL Division 1B final has earned them a high profile crack at Tipperary.
Anthony Daly’s side will take on the Premier county in the Division 1A semi-final, following this gripping encounter in Thurles town.
Paul Ryan’s 1-8 tally made a huge contribution and Joey Boland’s late winning point sent Dublin fans wild, but it was the display of Liam Rushe at centre back which inspired the Metropolitans in a breath-taking finish.
Dublin goalkeeper Alan Nolan had to be at this best to deny Graham Mulcahy and Kevin Downes as Limerick pushed forward in the early stages.
He deflected a Mulcahy effort over the bar, and the Munster men also had scores from Downes and Declan Hannon as they eased into a three points lead.
Paul Ryan landed Dublin’s opening score from a ninth minute free, and they added further scores through
Johnny McCaffrey and Conor McCormack to go level by the 16th minute.
Peter Kelly and Liam Rushe defended superbly as Dublin tightened up at the back, but they were assisted by some wayward shooting by their opponents, who hit eight first half wides.
A long range Simon Lambert point gave Dublin the lead for the first time, and they went four clear when Ryan blasted a 20 metre free to the net in the 23rd minute.
But an indentical score from Hannon inspired Limerick’s revival, and points from Hannon and Conor Allis sent them in with a 1-7 to 1-6 interval lead.
Dublin responded with a productive flourish in the opening moments of the second half, Ryan continuing to hit the target from frees, and David O’Callaghan also on target for a three points cushion.
Limerick found another worthy response, hitting five points on the spin, three of them from Hannon frees, with Allis claiming his second and Mulcahy also adding to his tally.
Three points to the good going into the crucial final 20 minutes, the Munster side, performing with confidence and composure, appeared to have their destiny in their own hands.
But Dublin dug in for one last effort, and rose to the challenge in superb style, with substitute David Treacy and O’Callaghan grafting for possession all over the field.
Hard work paid off handsomely as they won frees that Ryan despatched unerringly, and after Seamus Hickey had brought Limerick level, they still found the inspiration to craft a winning point for Joey Boland two minutes from the end.
Limerick scorers: D Hannon 1-7 (1-6f, 0-1 ‘65), S Hickey, C Allis, G Mulcahy 0-2 each, P O’Brien, K Downes 0-1 each
Dublin scorers: P Ryan 1-8 (1-8f), D O’Callaghan, C McCormack, D Sutcliffe, S Lambert, J Boland, N McMorrow, D Treacy, J McCaffrey 0-1 each
Dublin: A Nolan, P Kelly, P Schutte, R Trainor; M Carton, L Rushe, S Durkin, J Boland, S Lambert, C Keaney, J McCaffrey, D Sutcliffe, C McCormack, D O’Callaghan, P Ryan.
Subs: R O’Dwyer for McCaffrey (42), N McMorrow for Keaney (46), D Treacy for Carton (50), E Dillon for McCormack (63)
Limerick: N Quaid, S Walsh, R McCarthy, T Condon, P O’Brien, W McNamara, G O’Mahony, P Browne, J Ryan, C Allis, S Hickey, D Breen, G Mulcahy, D Hannon, K Downes.
Subs: R Dowling for Breen (56), N Moran for Downes (64)
Referee: A Kelly (Galway)