Limerick 1-25 Offaly 3-15: John Kiely hailed the resilience of his Limerick team as his 14 men got the better of visitors Offaly on Saturday night.
John Fitzgibbon’s red card shortly before half-time, for an overhead pull that connected with the faceguard of Conor Doughan, had Limerick a man down for the remainder of the game.
But the Shannonsiders survived that setback – and the concession of two quick-fire second-half goals – to keep their slim promotion hopes alive.
Kiely also revealed he’s currently down 11 players through injury but there was a welcome return for corner-back Sean Finn after a year out with cruciate knee ligament damage, and he made his League debut.
Kiely said: “Happy to be honest with you, down to 14 men for a lot of the game.
“Most important we kept out heads, didn’t panic, kept our composure and hit 14 points in the first-half, against the breeze, a good return.”
It was a decent haul as Limerick had played against the breeze in the first-half, racing into a six-point lead before Offaly reeled them in.
Shane Dooley, scorer of 2-11, netted in the 27th minute to level matters at 1-9 to 0-12 and the Faithful County went four points clear before scores from Ronan Lynch and Gearóid Hegarty kept Limerick in touch.
Andrew La Touche Cosgrave, making his full League debut, netted for Limerick early in the second- half but the hosts were rocked by goals from Dooley and Oisín Kelly within a minute of each other.
Limerick’s response was impressive, however, as they collected seven of the game’s remaining nine points.
Limerick could have had another goal, too, but David Dempsey was denied by namesake James, who pulled off a blinding save in the 46th minute.
Kiely smiled: “Great save by Dempsey – he’s a class keeper and you’re not going to pass him unless it’s inch perfect.”
Lynch hit ten of his 11 points from placed balls but missed a few and Kiely added: “Ronan will be disappointed with a couple of the frees, but it was a very competitive game.
“Limerick have always found it difficult to beat Offaly but key guys stepped up at key moments and showed great leadership. James Ryan and Seamus Hickey were fantastic, and the subs that came on made a good impact.”
Given that Limerick are down so many, and taking into account that they trained four times last week, this was a decent result against opponents who scuppered their promotion hopes in 2014 and 2015 by snatching valuable points.
But Offaly remain pointless and bottom after three games, although manager Kevin Ryan took positives from an encouraging display in patches.
“A lot of people would have expected a bit of a hammering, it could be a turning point for us,” said Ryan.
Scorers for Limerick:
R Lynch (0-11, 10 frees); A La Touche Cosgrave (1-1); G Hegarty (0-3); P Ryan, J Ryan (0-2 each); D Byrnes, J Fitzgibbon, D Dempsey, S Tobin, D O’Donovan, G Mulcahy (0-1 each).
Scorers for Offaly:
S Dooley (2-11, 0-8 free, 0-1 sl), O Kelly (1-0); C Doughan (0-2); C Kiely, E Nolan (0-1 each).
D McCarthy; S Finn, R McCarthy, M Casey; S Hickey, D Byrnes, D Hannon; P Ryan, J Fitzgibbon; G Hegarty, D Dempsey, J Ryan; A La Touche Cosgrave, R Lynch, S Tobin.
D O’Donovan for P Ryan (55), G Mulcahy for Tobin (57), S Cahill for Finn (61), A Dempsey for La Touche Cosgrave (64).
J Dempsey; M Cleary, P Delaney, P Rigney; S Ryan, D Short, B Conneely; P Guinan, C Doughan; S Cleary, S Dooley, O Kelly; E Nolan, C Kiely, P Geraghty.
D Morkan for Guinan (h.t.), A Cleary for Geraghty (49), J Mulrooney for Kiely (49), L Langton for Nolan (61), S Quirke for S Cleary (67).
F Horgan (Tipperary).
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