Allianz HL Division 1 quarter-finals
Dublin 1-25 Limerick 0-16
Dublin’s hurlers allayed any fears that they can’t perform in Croke Park with this emphatic quarter-final victory.
Ger Cunningham’s charges had 12 points to spare over Limerick on Saturday evening with a free-flowing performance that sparkled from start to finish.
Making the rampant display all the more remarkable it came just three weeks after Dublin were hit for 34 points by Cork in an 11 point victory for Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s men.
But Dublin’s one-sided victory will be tempered somewhat by Limerick’s performance. TJ Ryan’s men appeared well off the pace in an overall flat team display.
The Limerick manager wasn’t searching for excuses afterwards and refused to lay any blame on the difference between Division 1A and 1B.
“People will throw that out but I don’t think so although maybe it looked like a Division 1A against 1B alright,” said Ryan.
“I thought preparations had gone well and we had a strong team out and we wanted to win this. Clearly we were off the pace — the intensity wasn’t there, we didn’t get the tackles in and were beaten by six points in both halves.”
But his Dublin counterpart felt this side could force home the advantage of five high intensity group games.
“We felt we had the pace of Division 1A and that we had to try and make that work for us — we tried to play the game at our pace and took the game from the start and got on the ball well,” explained Cunningham.
That’s exactly what his Dublin side did and they were 0-4 to 0-1 ahead after six minutes when it was already evident that they were looking to exploit the space created in the Limerick defence.
None more so than Mark Schutte benefited from this tactic and he was to finish with 1-5 from play.
Dublin were 0-5 to 0-3 clear when Schutte notched his first point in the 15th minute. He was to hit three by half time as Dublin brought a 0-14 to 0-8 advantage into the second half.
While Dublin were full of support runners and finding scores from many sources, Limerick had just three points from play in the opening half with an over reliance on the free-taking of Shane Dowling.
The Dublin lead could have been greater had they opted to try for goal with a 31st minute penalty after Richie McCarthy had fouled David O’Callaghan. David Treacy opted for a white flag as Dublin finished the half with seven of the last 10 scores. Limerick needed to find some early second half momentum after playing second fiddle throughout an opening half that had seen them lose both captain Donal O’Grady and All Star defender Seamus Hickey to injury.
But it was Dublin that continued their race to the winning line with 1-1 inside two minutes.
Dotsy O’Callaghan had the first score of the half and then came the only goal of the game.
True to form it fell to Schutte who only had goal on his mind when he raced goalwards to crash low across Nickie Quaid.
At 1-15 to 0-8 the game already appeared finished, albeit with over 30 minutes to play.
There was a Limerick response but it wasn’t prolonged or profitable.
TJ Ryan’s men found seven points in 17 minutes but that still only brought them to within six of their hosts.
With no sign of a Limerick goal to spark anything significant, Dublin moved up another gear and hit seven points in the final 10 minutes while restricting Limerick to just a solitary score.
Scorers for Dublin: D Treacy (0-9, 6frees, 1pen), M Schutte (1-5), D O’Callaghan, D Sutcliffe, N McMorrow, J McCaffrey (0-2 each), C Crummey, C Boland, L Rushe (0-1 each).
Scorers for Limerick: S Dowling (0-8, 6frees, 1 ‘65), G Mulcahy (0-4), C Lynch, J Ryan, P O’Brien, T Morrissey (0-1 each).
DUBLIN: G Maguire; C O’Callaghan, P Kelly, P Schutte; S Durkin, C Crummey, C Keaney; J McCaffrey, N McMorrow; D Sutcliffe, L Rushe, R O’Dwyer; D O’Callaghan, M Schutte, D Treacy.
Subs: P Ryan for D O’Callaghan (44), C Cronin for McCaffrey (55), C Boland for M Schutte (66), D Plunkett for O’Dwyer (67), C McBride for Sutcliffe (70).
LIMERICK: N Quaid; S Walsh, R McCarthy, S Hickey; P O’Brien, W McNamara, D Morrissey; P Browne, J Ryan; D Breen, D Hannon, D O’Grady; G Mulcahy, S Dowling, S Tobin.
Subs: C Lynch for O’Grady (11), S O’Brien for Hickey (33), D Reidy for Tobin (53), T Morrissey for Mulcahy (64), C King for Ryan (64).
Referee: D Kirwan (Cork).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved