Limerick hurlers make hard work of Carlow test

Limerick hurling manager John Allen
The Limerick hurlers got their second win of their Division 1B league campaign on Sunday in the Gaelic Grounds but they were far from impressive in a 3-10 to 1-13 win over Carlow.

The Limerick hurlers got their second win of their Division 1B league campaign on Sunday in the Gaelic Grounds but they were far from impressive in a 3-10 to 1-13 win over Carlow.

After a leaden-footed start to their league campaign, Limerick hurling supporters were looking for an improved performance when they took on Carlow in the second round of Division 1B on Sunday.

Well, they may have left Gaelic Grounds comforted by the fact that their team has two wins out of two but the manner of this victory will have left them with even greater reservation than those after the Antrim game three weeks ago.

Once again, John Allen’s side struggled to find a level of urgency to match that of their opponents and, had they not bagged three goals against the run of play, they could have been facing a sizeable lead heading into the break.

A three point advantage was enough to carry them through wind-assisted second half and, while the performance lifted sufficiently to edge them into a comfortable lead by the three-quarter mark, there wasn’t enough conviction in it to prevent a nerve-wracking finish when Carlow had their chances to pull off a major surprise.

Limerick go to Croke Park next week to play Dublin in a game that marks the start of Limerick’s three supposedly tougher games. They are also away to Offaly and at home to Wexford.

That schedule of fixtures will be made harder without captain Donal O’Grady who broke his collar bone in the opening half.

Carlow made use of the wind to take the lead through Shane Kavanagh’s strikes from a free and from play. Séamus Hickey replied but the hosts were struggling to impose themselves on their opponents as Seán Murphy widened the gap.

However, they were thrown a lifeline when Declan Hannon drove a 20 metre free to the net but the lead was short-lived as Kavanagh sent over three free frees and Jack Kavangh followed up from play.

Then, just as Carlow’s conviction was beginning to roll, Hannon pounced on a fumbled clearance to blast to the corner of Nicky Roberts’s net and, barely a minute later, Seanie Tobin got their third.

It was 3-2 to 0-8 at the break and Limerick did just enough to pull through the second half.

SCORERS - Limerick: Declan Hannon 2-6 (1-4 frees), Seanie Tobin 1-0, Séamus Hickey, Graeme Mulcahy, Paudie O’Brien, Aidan Breen 0-1 each; Carlow: Shane Kavanagh 0-9 (seven frees), Craig Doyle 1-2, Seán Murphy, Jack Kavanagh 0-1 each.

LIMERICK - Aaron Murphy; Alan Dempsey, Richie McCarthy, Tom Condon; Cathal King, Donal O’Grady, Gavin O’Mahony; Paul Browne, Paudie O’Brien; Declan Hannon, Séamus Hickey, Dave Breen; Graeme Mulcahy, Niall Moran, Seanie Tobin. Subs: Wayne McNamara for Donal O’Grady (inj 21 mins), Kevin Downes for Niall Moran (half-time), James Ryan for Gavin O’Mahony (49 mins), Adrian Breen for Seanie Tobin (52 mins), Shane Dowling for Graeme Mulcahy (66 mins)

CARLOW - Nicky Roberts; Hugh Paddy O’Brien, Eoin Nolan, Des Shaw; James O’Hara, Richie Coady, Derek Byrne; Mark Brennan, Edward Coady; Seán Murphy, Shane Kavanagh, Jack Kavanagh; Pádraig Nolan, John Michael Nolan, Craig Doyle. Subs: Diarmuid Byrne for Derek Byrne (41 mins), Paul Coady for Jack Kavanagh (45 mins), Andrew Gaule for John Michael Nolan (52 mins), David Galwey for James O’Hara (58 mins),

REFEREE - Cathal McAllister (Cork).