The Limerick hurlers got their league campaign back on track with an easy 1-24 to 2-12 win over Laois in Portlaoise on Sunday.
After the nature of the 14-point loss to Clare in the opening game, this Round 2 clash was always going to be about the result and no more.
And, that’s how it turned out with the Laois challenge well below the level that Clare brought to the Gaelic Grounds.
As a result it’s hard to examine just how much Limerick have improved since the heavy loss to Davy Fitzgerald’s side.
At times Limerick looked impressive in this tie and at other stages they were error-ridden and lacking any pace in speed or thought.
From start to finish, the game was more of a challenge-game nature – especially when compared to the intensity of the Clare game.
Far too often players had time on the ball that they would normally not have and the open nature of the contest lent to the high scoring.
After the opening quarter hour, it looked like it was going to be one-way traffic for Limerick as John Allen’s side raced into a 1-8 to 0-2 lead.
The star man in this period was Graeme Mulcahy – the corner forward hitting a remarkable six points from play in the opening 35 minutes.
Captain David Breen also notched two points in this spell and in the 12th minute he popped up with the Limerick goal.
Mikey Ryan made the chance with a fine turn of pace and when his shot was saved well by Eoin Reilly, the supporting Breen had a simple task to finish to the net.
Indeed the early lead could have been greater but a sixth minute Niall Moran effort was ruled out for a square ball.
But when Limerick did find the net it appeared to spur the Teddy McCarthy managed Laois who hit four points with just a Dowling point in reply as the lead was cut to 1-9 to 0-6.
Laois were now reducing the space allowed to the Limerick half back line and midfield and the clean supply to the attack dried up.
With former Limerick IT student Willie Hyland reliable from frees, Laois cut the lead and were rewarded in the 34th minute when Michael McEvoy was allowed too much space in the goalmouth to fire to the net.
At the interval it was 1-14 to 1-9 after a half when Laois hit seven wides and Limerick just two.
On the resumption, Limerick enforced their dominance on the scoreboard with Dowling frees but he was then forced off injured.
Bit by bit the gap widened, but still Limerick were far from impressive.
Conor Allis, now on free taking duty, accounted for many of the scores as Limerick went 1-21 to 1-12 ahead.
Paul Browne and Niall Moran also found the range as Laois went all of 22 minutes without a score.
The score that finally ended their scoring drought came in injury time when Brian Dunne goaled.
But while not firing on all cylinders, Limerick still forged clear and introduced five subs.
It was far from a vintage performance but with results elsewhere, Limerick are very much back in contention in this group and will most likely need to win in Wexford next Sunday.
SCORERS – Limerick: David Breen 1-4, Graeme Mulcahy, Shane Dowling (four frees) 0-6 each, Conor Allis 0-5 (three frees, one ‘65), Niall Moran 0-2, Paul Browne 0-1. Laois: Willie Hyland 0-8 (six frees), Brian Dunne 1-2, Michael McEvoy 1-0, Joe Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fitzgerald 0-1 each.
LIMERICK – Nickie Quaid; Stephen Walsh, Richie McCarthy, Tom Condon; Wayne McNamara, Donal O’Grady, Gavin O’Mahony; Paul Browne, James Ryan; Conor Allis, David Breen, Shane Dowling; Graeme Mulcahy, Niall Moran, Mikey Ryan. Subs: Thomas O’Brien for Shane Dowling (injured - 43mins), Tom Ryan for Gavin O’Mahony (62 mins), Niall Maher for James Ryan (64 mins), David Moloney for Tom Condon (67 mins), Mark Carmody for Mikey Ryan (67 mins).
LAOIS – Eoin Reilly; Brian Stapleton, Darren Maher, Brian Smith; Conor Dunne, Joe Fitzpatrick, Matthew Whelan; James Walsh, Brian Dunne; Willie Hyland, Michael McEvoy, Stephen Maher; John Brophy, Tommy Fitzgerald, Neil Foyle. Subs: Paddy Mullaney for Brian Smith (26 mins), Willie Dunphy for John Brophy (43 mins), Sean Bourke for James Walsh (46 mins), Dayne Peacock for Stephen Maher (64 mins), David O’Mahony for Tommy Fitzgerald (69 mins).