Kilmallock may have sleepwalked into this quarter-final, but they could’ve taken a mid-game siesta in brushing past Murroe-Boher yesterday.
Having been caught out by Doon a fortnight ago, Kilmallock were much closer to their best against last year’s Premier Intermediate champions.
A season’s best of 12 different scorers was achieved by the 46th minute, while Barry Hennessy and his mean team of defenders have now conceded only one goal in six games against the strongest of opposition. Indeed, they’ve only conceded 38 points in the second-halves of those games, when it matters most.
They’ll need to roll that performance into next week, however, as they take on the 2016 All-Ireland champions Na Piarsaigh in a blockbuster semi-final.
We know we’ve the tough side of the draw, but we’ve to play them at some stage of the year. They’re the standard-bearers of Limerick, but we’ll relish the chance of taking them down,” said manager John Brudair.
“Last time [against Doon] was brutal. The lads know that. We got the response today, but, in reality, you’d expect us to beat Murroe.
“We’ll know next Sunday if it was [a complete performance]. It’s a template for what we want to do.
“It’ll be two of the top teams in Limerick going head-to-head. What more do you want and, in the year the All-Ireland was won, there’s going to be a bit of hype about it.”
There was little hype about yesterday’s game, though, and it went as expected. The margin of victory was 26 points and the result was in little doubt by the sixth minute.
Gavin O’Mahony was the conductor in chief early on and had a hand in every score, as Kilmallock blitzed 1-4 to no score ahead. Oisin O’Reilly scored his fifth goal in six games, outpacing a clearly unfit Barry Cusack. A sub had already been readied, but it was too late, as Cusack limped off immediately after.
Coached by ex-Mary I manager Jamie Wall, Kilmallock’s short-passing game was seen in full effect in the 14th minute as Robbie Hanley gathered O’Reilly’s superb pass to put the Balbec nine points clear, via a wicked deflection off the unlucky Brian Timmons.
Graeme Mulcahy had three points in the first quarter and, when Michael Houlihan, son of ex-Limerick star Mike, pointed in the 19th minute to make it 2-8 to 0-2, all six forwards were on the board. It could’ve been even more, as Gavan Ryan made fine saves to deny Phelim O’Reilly, Mulcahy and Houlihan.
Murroe, meanwhile, were reliant on the Tobin brothers, Seanie and Pat, for scores to make it 2-11 to 0-7 at the break.
Goals from Paudie O’Brien and Jake Mulcahy bookended a second-half which was more about shooting practice for the likes of Kevin O’Donnell and Robbie Egan.
Asked if the championship structure of separating the top-six and bottom-six until the quarter-final stage had worked, Murroe-Boher manager Ger Bradley said: “I think the structure is good, but the teams in 1B are more even and you can get lured into a false sense that you’re going well until you step up.
“The gulf in class between Division 1A and 1B is humongous.”
: P O’Brien (1-9, 8 frees); O O’Reilly (1-2); R Hanley, J Mulcahy (1-1 each); G Mulcahy, K O’Donnell (0-3 each); G O’Mahony (frees), R Egan (0-2 each); P O’Reilly, A Barrett, Philip O’Loughlin, A Costello (0-1 each).
: S Tobin (0-5, 4 frees); P Tobin (0-3); M Ryan, A Kennedy (0-2 each); D Sheehan (0-1).
: B Hennessy; B Burke, D Joy, A Costello; Paddy O’Loughlin, G O’Mahony, Philip O’Loughlin; J Mulcahy, R Hanley; K O’Donnell, M Houlihan, P O’Reilly; P O’Brien, G Mulcahy, O O’Reilly.
: C O’Connor for Burke (ht), R Egan for Houlihan (ht), M O’Loughlin for Joy (42), K Hayes for Hanley (54), E Ryan for P O’Reilly (54).
: G Ryan; B Cusack, B Timmons, S Hickey; M Hanly, D Kennedy, D Byrnes; R Kennedy, D Sheehan; J Casey, C Byrnes, A Kennedy; S Tobin, P Tobin, M Ryan.
: D Dunlea for Cusack (7 inj); E Hourigan for P Tobin (49).
: J O’Mahony (Kildimo-Pallaskenry).