LIMERICKâ€™S minor football campaign ended on Tuesday night when losing to Kerry 3-9 to 0-5 in Tralee.
After their crushing first round defeat to Cork, Limerick minor footballers werenâ€™t expected to figure when they took on Kerry in the Munster championship semi-final play-off.
However, Tom McGlinchyâ€™s charges had other ideas in the heavy conditions and gave as good as they got until the closing stages when the hot favourites pulled away following their second goal.
The game might have taken a different course had the visitors taken their chances during a dominant opening quarter but, once their opponents had soaked up the early pressure, their greater scoring options paid off. Limerick may not have had quite the same depth but the contributions of Mark Oâ€™Connor, Paul White and SeÃ¡n Barrett in defence and David Condron and Robbie Bourke in midfield gave an indication of the talent emerging in the county.
Bourke gave Limerick a first minute lead which held until Jack Savageâ€™s equalising free. When Niall Sheehy from a free and from play finally put Kerry in front and Gerald Oâ€™Sullivan goaled after Condronâ€™s reply, the home crowd waited for the Kingdom to open up.
However Limerick, despite Denis Greaneyâ€™s goal-line clearance off Savage, finished the half stronger as Tony McCarthy and Jack Breen pointed either side of Conor Keaneâ€™s response to narrow the half-time gap to 1-4 to 0-4.
White traded with Denis Daly in the only scores of a tight third quarter before Ã‰anna Ã“ ConchÃºirâ€™s penalty landed the killer blow after Keane had been pulled down in the square. Now finding more space against a tiring defence, Kieran Murphyâ€™s â€˜45â€™, Greg Horan, Cillian Fitzgerald and Savage added to Kerryâ€™s lead, Adareâ€™s Bourke saw his blockbuster come back off the butt of the upright and sub Gavin Oâ€™Sheaâ€™s injury time goal flattered the hostsâ€™ winning margin.
SCORERS - Kerry: Gerald Oâ€™Sullivan 1-0, Ã‰anna Ã“ ConchÃºir 1-0 (pen), Gavin Oâ€™Shea 1-0, Jack Savage 0-2 (1f), Niall Sheehy 0-2 (1f), Conor Keane 0-1, Denis Daly 0-1, Kieran Murphy 0-1 (â€˜45â€™), Greg Horan 0-1, Cillian Fitzgerald 0-1. Limerick: Robbie Bourke 0-1, David Condron 0-1, Tony McCarthy 0-1, Darragh Stapleton 0-1, Paul White 0-1.
KERRY - Gavin Curran; Cathal Ã“ Luing, Gavin Crowley, Shane Oâ€™Connor; Brian Crowley, Ronan Murphy, Greg Horan; Ã‰anna Ã“ ConchÃºir, Kieran Murphy; Gerald Oâ€™Sullivan, Jack Savage, Cillian Fitzgerald; Niall Sheehy, Denis Daly, Conor Keane. Subs: Gavin Oâ€™Shea for Niall Sheehy (41 mins), Adam Barry for Conor Keane (53 mins), Daniel Collins for Cathal Ã“ Luing (59 mins), David Foran for Denis Daly (60 mins), Evan Doyle for Kieran Murphy (60 mins).
LIMERICK - James Oâ€™Meara; Denis Greaney, Mark Oâ€™Connor, Kevin Meade; Paul White, Stephen Cahill, SeÃ¡n Barrett; David Condron, Robbie Bourke; Eoin Oâ€™Donnell, Daniel Daly, Tony McCarthy; Darragh Stapleton, Darragh Oâ€™Donovan, Jack Breen. Subs: James Frawley for Tony McCarthy(41 mins), Ronan McKenna for Daniel Daly (44 mins), Gavin Jones for Denis Greaney (48 mins), Cormac Oâ€™Shea for Darragh Oâ€™Donovan (51 mins).
REFEREE - Michael Rock (Clare).