John Allen secured his first win as Limerick hurling boss in Portlaoise yesterday.
The Cork man’s side had previously failed to overcome Clare in the Waterford Crystal Cup and the opening league tie but will take comfort from this nine point win in O’Moore Park that kick-starts the Limerick promotion aspirations.
While this was far from a sparkling performance the Shannonsiders were worthy winners and always looked likely winners after racing into a 1-8 to 0-2 lead inside 15 minutes.
Although the home side will bemoan their tally of 13 wides – compared to seven for Limerick, it was the opening quarter that decided the tie.
Graeme Mulcahy was the name on the lips of all in the small attendance at the end of the opening half as he hit a splendid six points from play.
Limerick were afforded time on the ball and opted to find Mulcahy in the corner and last year’s U21 star repaid that confidence with some sharp finishes. Indeed the early Limerick supremacy could have been greater but a Niall Moran goal was ruled out for a square ball in the sixth minute.
But Limerick did have the ball in the net in the 12th minute when David Breen fired home after Eoin Reilly had saved Mikey Ryan’s shot.
That goal spurred Laois to life. Willie Hyland (frees), Tommy Fitzgerald and Brian Dunne hit points to reduced the lead to 1-9 to 0-6.
Goal-scorer Breen added two points for Limerick with Shane Dowling accurate from frees and they led at 1-13 to 0-9 with half time approaching.
Then Michael McEvoy popped up with a Laois goal after barging through the cover to find the net.
Five points up at the interval, Limerick built on the advantage on the restart with further Dowling frees.
Hyland again replied and midway through the half it was 1-17 to 1-11 to the eventual winners.
But that was it for Laois with just one more score in the remaining 22-minutes of action.
And, that score came in injury time when Brian Dunne scrambled a goal after Limerick outplayed the home side for most of the second half.
It wasn’t free flowing hurling from Limerick but they notched up with points with Conor Allis, Paul Browne, Niall Moran and Breen all firing over.
Limerick lost teenage free-taker Dowling to injury, but his U-21 colleague Allis stepped into the free-taking duty was unerring as the men in green eased towards the winners line.
In the second minute of injury time came some respite for Laois when Dunne ended 22-minutes without a score when scrambling to the net after goalkeeper Reilly delivered a long free into the opposing goalmouth.
But was too little, too late and Limerick record their first league win without ever reaching top gear.
Scorers for Limerick: D Breen 1-4, G Mulcahy, S Dowling (4frees) 0-6 each, C Allis 0-5 (3frees, ’65), N Moran 0-2, P Browne 0-1. Scorers for Laois: W Hyland 0-8 (6frees), B Dunne 1-2, M McEvoy 1-0, J Fitzpatrick, T Fitzgerald 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: N Quaid, S Walsh, R McCarthy, T Condon, W McNamara, D O’Grady, G O’Mahony; P Browne, J Ryan; C Allis, D Breen, S Dowling, G Mulcahy, N Moran, M Ryan.
Subs: T O’Brien for S Dowling (43), T Ryan for G O’Mahony (62), N Maher for J Ryan (64), D Moloney for T Condon (67), M Carmody for M Ryan (67).
LAOIS: E Reilly, B Stapleton, D Maher, B Smith, C Dunne, J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan, J Walsh, B Dunne, W Hyland, M McEvoy, S Maher, J Brophy, T Fitzgerald, N Foyle.
Subs: P Mullaney for B Smith (26), W Dunphy for J Brophy (43), S Bourke for J Walsh (46), D Peacock for S Maher (64), D O’Mahony for T Fitzgerald (69).
Referee: T Carroll (Offaly).
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