PERHAPS it was too much to dream for two big championship wins on the one weekend.
Less than 24 hours after the heroics of the Limerick senior footballers, the hurling oddessy for 2011 came to an end in Thurles as Dublin scored a first ever championship win over the Shannonsiders.
From the outset of the season most would have been happy with a merited performance at the quarter-final stage on the back of promotion back to the top flight.
But this was a game that Limerick could have won.
The concession of three goals inside the opening 23-minutes left Limerick with a mountain to climb but they stuck to the task and only inaccuracy in front of goal cost them a place in the last four.
It always looked like Limerick would need a goal to help bridge the deficit but it never came and it was hat-trick hero Ryan O’Dywer that proved the difference between the sides.
Despite the goals, Limerick only trailed 3-6 to 0-10 at the interval.
But nine second half wides proved costly as the gap could never be cut inside two points.
Limerick were slow starters in most major games this season but that appeared to be put to bed when Brian Geary landed two long range frees inside four minutes.
But then Dublin came to life with Ryan O’Dwyer stealing the first half limelight with a hat-trick of goals in the opening 23 minutes.
Clearly Dublin’s management had spotted potential weaknessess in the centre of the Limerick defence and made in-roads.
When Brian Geary eventually made way in the 25th minute, only David Moloney was in the position where he started.
The first goal came in the fifth minute when Maurice O’Brien delivered to O’Dwyer and he found the net. But just moments earlier Kevin Downes had a glimpse of goal only for his effort to be blocked and cleared outside to O’Brien, who launched it forward.
Declan Hannon replied with his first score and Donal O’Grady added another as Limerick looked to settle.
But then O’Dywer struck again in the 10th minute. It was all but a carbon copy of John Mullane’s winning goal in the Munster championship with Alan McCrabbe delivering from the left corner into the waiting hands of O’Dwyer, who blasted to the roof of the net.
Again it was teenager Declan Hannon that replied as his first half total raced to three from play and three from placed balls.
At 2-6 to 0-6 Limerick got a first glimpse of goal, but Sean Tobin’s effort was saved by Maguire.
Just like the previous scores, Dublin went down field and goaled.
Geary was caught in possession and David O’Callaghan’s shot was saved by Nicky Quaid only for O’Dwyer to score with the rebound.
Hannon again steadied the ship as four late points cut the interval deficit to five points.
Within three minutes it was down to two with Hannon and Gavin O’Mahony scoring.
Two Paul Ryan frees halted the progress, but then came the procession of wides.
In total 10 different players were off target and thats not to mention a number of aimless solo runs and incorrect choices in scoring positions.
With 13 minutes to play it was still in the mix at 3-10 to 0-17.
Hannon had a sighting of goal but it was easily saved and then came the crucial series of wides and Dublin absorbed the pressure and did just enough to book a semi-final meeting with Tipperary in three weeks’ time.
SCORERS – Dublin: Ryan O’Dwyer 3-2, Paul Ryan 0-8 (six frees), Liam Rushe, David O’Callaghan and Shane Ryan 0-1 each. Limerick: Declan Hannon 0-11 (five frees, one ’65), B Geary (two frees), Gavin O’Mahony (two frees), Kevin Downes 0-2 each, Donal O’Grady 0-1.
LIMERICK – Nicky Quaid; David Moloney, Seamus Hickey, Tom Condon; Wayne McNamara, Brian Geary, Gavin O’Mahony; Donal O’Grady, Paul Browne; Niall Moran, Declan Hannon, James Ryan; Graeme Mulcahy, Kevin Downes, Sean Tobin. Subs: Stephen Walsh for Brian Geary (25 mins), David Breen for Sean Tobin (48 mins), Richie McCarthy for Niall Moran (53 mins), Stephen Lucey for Donal O’Grady(67 mins).
DUBLIN – Gary Maguire, Niall Corcoran, Peter Kelly, Paul Schutte; Michael Carton, Joey Boland, Shane Durkin; Maurice O’Brien, John McCaffrey; Conor McCormack, Alan McCrabbe, Liam Rushe; David O’Callaghan, Ryan O’Dwyer, Paul Ryan. Subs: David Treacy for Conor McCormack (31mins), Simon Lambert for Alan McCrabbe (43mins), Daire Plunkett for Maurice O’Brien (50mins), Danny Sutcliffe for Shane Durkin (59mins), Shane Ryan for David O’Callaghan (65mins).
REFEREE – Brian Gavin (Offaly).