Limerick hurlers ease past Laois

Jerome O’Connell


Jerome O’Connell

Job done for Limerick in this preliminary round tie in the All-Ireland senior hurling championship qualifiers with an easy 6-21 to 1-11.

Job done for Limerick in this preliminary round tie in the All-Ireland senior hurling championship qualifiers with an easy 6-21 to 1-11.

In the end it was 25-points that separated the teams but there was very little to be learned from a Limerick perspective other than the win was achieved with minimum fuss.

John Allen’s side now progress to play Antrim next Saturday in round one proper of the qualifiers – Limerick will again enjoy home advantage in the Gaelic Grounds.

After the heartbreaking loss to Tipperary in the Munster championship this was a low key return to action via the backdoor for Limerick.

Laois had beaten Carlow and then lost by 22-points to Dublin in the Leinster championship. In all truth Teddy McCarthy’s side were never an opposition for Limerick in a most disappointing encounter and there can have been little words of consolation for his fellow Cork man when John Allen visited the losing dressing room after the final whistle.

Limerick were the hot favourites and if complacency was a fear it was quickly evident that the mindset of the home team was focused as they set about putting early scores on the board.

Limerick showed two changes from the Tipp game with forwards Conor Allis and Kevin Downes both missing out through injury and the U-21 stars of 2011 were replaced by two of the more experienced members of the panel with Niall Moran returning at full forward and Brian Geary surprisingly selected at centre forward.

Moran ended with 3-1 from play, but the Geary experiment would need a much sterner test before any verdict could be offered.

In fairness it was too much of a miss-match to offer any concrete verdict on the Limerick performance.

The one positive was that it was clear that Limerick were mentally ready to assume the role of favouritism and went about their business in a workman like manner from start to finish in front of a crowd of 3,086.

They led 2-10 to 0-3 at half time and despite the game being pretty much done and dusted they added another 4-11 in the second period. Ten players in total got on the scoresheet with four of the subs getting in on the act.

Laois were a one man show – Willie Hyland accounting for 1-10 of their tally. The captain and former Limerick IT student scoring 1-3 from play.

In terms of the landslide win the writing was on the wall in the 16th minute when David Breen raced onto a Moran lay-off to fire home the first goal and put Limerick 1-6 to 0-1 ahead.

Graeme Mulcahy had tormented Laois earlier in the year in the league and again hit four points in the opening 19-minutes.

Then in the 23rd minute the game was already looking a forgone conclusion when Moran’s shot beat the goalkeeper at the near post. Limerick now led 2-8 to 0-1 and then was still over 10-minutes to half time.

Indeed the lead could have been greater but Shane Dowling’s 26th minute penalty was saved by Eoin Reilly in the Laois goal.

Nonetheless, there were plenty goals to come in the second half after Limerick turned around 2-10 to 0-3 ahead.

Now no more than a challenge game, the sides hit four points each in the opening 15-minutes of the second half with Limerick 2-14 to 0-7 ahead.

Then the introduction of substitutes injected more urgency to Limerick play and goals from Moran in the 18th and 19th minutes of the half completed hi hat-trick and had Limerick 4-16 to 0-8 clear with 15-minutes to play.

The Laois goal came in the game’s 62nd minute but Limerick hit back with another two of their own.

Dowling goaled in the 65th minute after a delightful flick from Moran and then three minutes from time sub Tommy Quaid flicked to the net after Reilly had denied Moran a fourth with a great save.

SCORERS – Limerick: Shane Dowling 1-8 (0-6frees, 1 ’65), Niall Moran 3-1, David Breen, Thomas Quaid 1-1 each, Graeme Mulcahy 0-4, Declan Hannon 0-2, Sean Tobin, Paudie O’Brien, James Ryan, Thomas O’Brien 0-1 each. Laois: Willie Hyland 1-10 (0-6free, 1 ’65), Stephen Maher 0-1.

LIMERICK – Nickie Quaid; Stephen Walsh, Richie McCarthy, Tom Condon; Wayne McNamara, Donal O’Grady, Gavin O’Mahony; Paul Browne, James Ryan; Shane Dowling, Brian Geary, David Breen; Graeme Mulcahy, Niall Moran, Sean Tobin. Subs: Paudie O’Brien for Browne, inj (24mins), Declan Hannon for Tobin (44mins), Shane O’Neill for Condon (54mins), Thomas O’Brien for Geary (58mins), Thomas Quaid for Mulcahy (65mins).

LAOIS – Eoin Reilly; Canice Coonan, Darren Maher, Gearoid Burke; Nathan Unwin, Matthew Whelan, Michael McEvoy; Brian Dunne, Shane Hanlon; Stephen Maher, Tommy Fitzgerald, Willie Hyland; Chris Murray, Neil Foyle, Willie Dunphy. Subs: Andrew Collier for Tommy Fitzgerald (h-t), Brendan Reddin for Hanlon (h-t), Dayne Peacock for Dunphy (54mins), Sean Lowry for Reddin (67mins).

REFEREE - Michael Wadding (Waterford).