Offaly 0-14 Limerick 1-19: Limerick’s Shannonside derby clash with Clare in a fortnight’s time will be a promotion showdown regardless of results next weekend after Limerick eased to an eight-point win over Offaly at O’Connor Park in Tullamore yesterday.
Offaly manager Eamon Kelly declared the final scoreline to be “generous to Limerick.” However, both managers will have to take a long hard look at their stats sheets for this game after huge error counts were racked up in an otherwise competitive, sometimes bordering on combative, encounter between two familiar rivals.
Limerick’s promotion bids in 2014 and 2015 were derailed by Offaly and the Treaty county opened the door for history to repeat itself by shooting 16 wides in total, 11 in the first-half.
But Offaly were profligate too, racking up 14 wides of their own and making a crucial error shortly before half-time when Seán Gardiner attempted to play a lateral pass across his own goalmouth, only to see Declan Hannon pounce with a decisive interception and finish for the game’s only green flag.
“It’s a fixture that has caused us problems in the past, I’m not really sure why, but it was a good win today and three games in with three wins is exactly where we want to be” said Ryan afterwards.
“We went a bit flat there in the second -half, we had a lot of ball up there in the attacking area but we didn’t seem to turn it into scores. A couple of half chances weren’t knocked over the bar, but that can happen and we’ve seen in all the other Division 1B games, you’re just not going to dominate at this time of the year for 70 minutes.”
Crucially for Limerick, when they did dominate, they found scores much easier to come by. Offaly had rallied from three points down to draw level before Hannon slammed home his goal, and Colin Egan’s response to the major was a fine catch and point that threatened to restore the home side’s momentum.
Instead Limerick turned the tide with four points in as many minutes, Tom Morrissey and Hannon scoring from play while Diarmuid Byrne split the uprights with two long range frees.
Rampaging midfielder Paul Browne added another point ten seconds after the restart but Limerick spluttered through the next half an hour, adding just three points while Offaly cut the gap to four and also hit a series of wides of their own.
James Mulrooney did find the net for Offaly only to see play brought back for an earlier foul on Joe Bergin and it was a goal that the home side needed to put real pressure on their visitors.
Instead they ran out of steam and conceded the last four points of the tie, meaning that Limerick will have their fate in their own hands when they travel to Ennis on Sunday week, regardless of the result of their clash with Laois this coming Saturday.
Despite this, Ryan insisted that his side will be completely focused on securing a victory in that encounter, while also hinting that several key players are likely to be drafted into action for the fixture.
“Right now all we’re thinking about is next Saturday, the Clare game is way out there, not to be discussed for the moment, we’ve slipped up that way in the past.”
“We have to go and assess Declan (Hannon)’s injury now, but Graeme Mulcahy was nursing an injury too that he sustained during the week, and hopefully they’ll both be back. We’re expecting James Ryan to be involved next week also and we’ll need them all.”
Scorers for Offaly:
S Dooley (0-8, 5 frees, 1 sideline); J Bergin (0-2); J Sampson, C Egan, C McDonald, S Gardiner (0-1 each).
Scorers for Limerick:
D Hannon (1-6, 2 frees); P Browne, D Byrne (3 frees), T Morrissey (0-3 each); G O’Mahony (0-2); S Hickey, D O’Donovan (0-1 each).
J Dempsey; N Wynne, C McDonald, P Rigney; D Shortt, C Doughan, P Camon; S Kinsella, S Gardiner; P Murphy, C Egan, S Ryan; S Dooley, J Bergin, J Sampson.
J Mulrooney for Murphy (46), P Guinan for Sampson (48), S Cleary for Kinsella (56), L Langton for Gardiner (61), J Gorman for Ryan (68), Gardiner for McDonald (70+3)
N Quaid; T Condon, R McCarthy, R English; D Morrissey, D Byrne, B O’Connell; S Hickey, P Browne; G O’Mahony, T Morrissey, C Lynch; D Reidy, D Hannon, B Nash.
S Tobin for Reidy (48), Darragh O’Donovan for Hannon (54), W McNamara for D Morrissey (61), M Ryan for T Morrissey (68), P Ryan for Nash (70+1)
John Keenan (Wicklow).
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