THE Limerick senior hurlers are back on track in the All Ireland SHC after a 4-15 to 1-12 win over Westmeath in Mullingar this Sunday afternoon.
TJ Ryan’s side won by 12-points in the end but it was a performance that won’t beat Cork or Dublin in the next round next Saturday.
For long periods Westmeath set the tempo and in both halves Limerick went long periods without a score in a lacklustre display.
In the end Limerick rattled off the last six scores to win comfortably.
But a greater intensity will be needed in the next outing if Limerick are to reach a quarter final.
At half time it was 2-6 to 1-7 to Limerick.
It was a 35-minute period that the home side bossed for long periods but a last run of four successive points saw Limerick just about stumble into the lead at the break.
It was a half that saw Limerick hit eight wides - four of which could have been goals. For their part Westmeath had four wides in that half.
All had started so well for Limerick and TJ Ryan’s side led 2-2 to 0-2 after 12-minutes.
The first goal came on eight minutes when Kevin Downes profited from a long delivery from James Ryan. Downes fetched and crashed brilliantly to the net. That had Limerick 1-1 to 0-1 up.
Four minutes late Shane Dowling blasted to the net from he left after he was slipped a lovely neat handpass from Graeme Mulcahy, who had opened the days’ scoring in the seventh minute.
Seanie Tobin added a point to the Dowling goal and Limerick were six points clear.
But then Limerick went the next 18-minutes without a score as they failed to build on the lead and in stead allowed Westmeath to grow in confidence.
The real tonic for the home side came on 17-minutes when Cromac Boyle was given all the space of Cusack Park to solo through the middle to score their goal.
The men in maroon were now on top and tactically had three in midfield and were dominated possession.
It was 10-mintes before half time when Limerick altered when sub Tom Condon was forced off injured and sub Dan Morrissey was detailed to man-mark Brendan Murtagh, who was doing much damage after moving to centre forward.
Limerick had the perfect start to the second half with Paul Browne goaling after just 90-seconds.
In a flurry of scores Shane Dowling and Kevin Downes added points and with just three minutes of the new half played it was 3-8 to 1-9 in favour of the visitors to the midlands.
Downes almost added a fourth goal but Dowling pointed to restore the two goal lead that Limerick had after 12-minutes.
But just like the first half Limerick then retreated and went the next 16-minutes without a score.
But this time Westmeath didn’t eat into the lead with Gavin O’Mahony now operating in a sweeper role and cutting out much of the Westmeath supply line.
Finally it was sub Declan Hannon that ended the barron spell with a score after 23-minutes of the second period. That left it 3-10 to 1-11.
Westmeath were to score just one in the final 12-minutes as Limerick put the gloss on the final scoreline.
The fourth goal came from Adrian Breen in the 68th minute.
So Limerick got the result they needed but all in Mullingar will know that a great performance will be needed next weekend.
SCORERS: Limerick: Shane Dowling 1-3 (0-1free), Kevin Downes 1-2, Paul Browne 1-1, Adrian Breen 1-0, Seanie Tobin 0-3, Graeme Mulcahy 0-2, Thomas O’Brien 0-1. Westmeath: Brendan Murtagh 0-6 (2frees), Cormac Boyle 1-2, Derek McNicholas 0-2, Alan Devine and Emmett Corrigan 0-1 each.
LIMERICK; Nickie Quaid; Tom Condon, Richie McCarthy, Seanie O’Brien; Paudie O’Brien, Gavin O’Mahony, Wayne McNamara; James Ryan, Paul Browne; David Breen, Seanie Tobin, Shane Dowling; Graeme Mulcahy, Kevin Downes, Cian Lynch. Subs: Dan Morrissey for Tom Condon, inj (26mins), Thomas O’Brien for Cian Lynch (43mins), Declan hannon for Seanie Tobin (41mins), Adrian Breen for Shane Dowling (56mins), Donal O’Grady for David Breen (64mins).
WESTMEATH: Shane McGovern; Shane Power, Tommy Doyle, Kieran Duncan; Aaron Craig, Aonghus Clarke, Alan McGrath; Alan Devine, Derek McNicholas, Liam Varley; Niall O’Brien, Brendan Murtagh, Robbie Greville. Subs: Darragh Clinton for Niall O’Brien (43mins), Emmett Corrigan for Derek McNicholas (49mins), Killiam Murphy for Aaron Craig (56mins), Niall Mitchell for Shane Power (62mins).
REFEREE: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)