John Riordan’s goal eight minutes from time gave Limerick the perfect start to the National League as they beat Leitrim 1-9 to 0-9 in Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday.
The margin could have been far wider than how it ended up and, indeed, there was six points between the sides after the goal despite Ian Ryan rattling off the crossbar and Ger Collins twice and Eoghan O’Connor seeing chances scrape just over the crossbar.
Leitrim took early control but wasted a number of chances before Adrian Croal got them off the mark. They could have added to it before Ian Ryan equalised with a free but Robbie Lowe restored their advantage.
As Limerick came more into the game, Ger Collins could have goaled but shot scraped just over to leave the sides level and a second Ryan free put them ahead as half-time approached. But Leitrim responded immediately as Lowe ended an attack with a blistering shot that Brian Scanlon tipped over to leave the sides level at 0-3 apiece.
Leitrim managed a breakway James Glancy free and a long strike from Colm Clarke in reply to Ryan’s free but, with their midfield fading, they were under constant pressure as another Ryan free, O’Connor and Ryan from play put the visitors four points to the good. It could have been more had Ryan not rattled the crossbar just before Glancy converted a huge free but they got their reward when Riordan made the space off Collins’s pass to drill into the corner of Cathal McCrann’s net.
Leitrim kept battling but they never looked like causing an upset. Limerick play London at home next week hosting Clare three weeks later.
Scorers - Limerick: Ian Ryan 0-5 (four frees), John Riordan 1-0, Ger Collins 0-2, Eoghan O’Connor 0-2; Leitrim: Robbie Lowe 0-3, James Glancy 0-3 (all frees), Adrian Croal 0-1, Colm Clarke 0-1, Darren Sweeney 0-1.
Limerick - Brian Scanlon; Damien Quaide, Johnny McCarthy, Lorcan O’Dwyer; John Riordan, Barry Fitzpatrick, Pa Ranahan; Seán Buckley, Stephen Lucey; Darragh Treacy, Eoghan O’Connor, John Cooke; Ger Collins, James O’Meara, Ian Ryan. Subs: Ian Corbett for James O’Meara
(39 mins), Cian Coady for Lorcan O’Dwyer (68 mins), Mike Quilligan for Ger Collins (69 mins), Eoin Barry for John Cooke (71 mins).
Leitrim - Cathal McCrann; Alan Wynne, Ciarán Egan, Paddy Maguire; Daniel Beck, Wayne McKeon, Colm Clarke; Paddy McGowan, Daniel Lowe; Paul Brennan, Robbie Lowe, Gerry Hickey; Adrian Croal, James Glancy, Ray Cox. Subs: Conor Sheridan for Gerry Hickey (ht), Darren Sweeney for Paddy McGowan (62 mins), Shane Moran for Paul Brennan (62 mins).
Referee - Shaun McLaughan (Donegal).