LIMERICK’s promotion hopes took a big blow in Tullamore on Sunday as they drew 2-15 each with Offaly.
With Cork winning in Antrim, it means that Limerick are a point behind the Rebels in the Division 1B table ahead of the final round of games next weekend.
An injury-time free from Joe Bergin rescued Offaly. Limerick had looked to have done enough when they went four up with as many minutes remaining. But a goal from Peter Geraghty and Bergin’s free rescued the draw.
Limerick played with the breeze in the opening half and lead from the moment Paul Browne pointed after 30 seconds. Kevin Downes added another shortly after, and although Joe Bergin responded for Offaly, two points from Conor Allis had Limerick 0-4 to 0-2 up after ten minutes.
Bergin was again on target with a free but the impressive Paudie O’Brien and Allis (free) hit back for Limerick. Bergin and Allis traded frees and then came the biggest talking point of the first half. Stephen Walsh was adjudged to have fouled Brian Carroll in the large square but Aaron Murphy brilliantly saved Bergin’s penalty and Limerick survived.
Two more frees from Allis pushed Limerick four clear but Bergin hit back with two of his own and at the break, Limerick were 0-8 to 0-6 in front.
Offaly came out strongly in the second half and two points from Shane Dooley had them back level early on. But Limerick hit back well and a lovely pass from David Reidy found Graeme Mulcahy and he blasted to the net from close range.
Bergin replied with a free for Offaly but Allis (free) and Downes were again on target for Limerick and they had to thank Aaron Murphy who denied Daniel Currams with a great save in the 45th minute. Bergin was again on target with a couple of dead balls but Limerick looked to be moving clear with Downes and Allis again finding the range.
But a Daniel Currams goal with ten minutes remaining got Offaly back level and Sean Currams pointed to put Offaly ahead for the first time. Yet Limerick again responded well.
Mulcahy struck for his second goal and added a point to put Limerick three clear. Paul Browne then stretched that to four.
But Offaly were to have the final say and Geraghty’s brilliant goal and Bergin’s free tied the game.
SCORERS – Limerick: Graeme Mulcahy 2-1, Conor Allis 0-7 (five frees, one ’65), Kevin Downes 0-3, Paul Browne 0-2, David Reidy, Paudie O’Brien 0-1 each; Offaly: Joe Bergin 0-12 (ten frees, one ’65), Dan Currams and Peter Geraghty 1-0 each, Shane Dooley 0-2, Sean Cleary 0-1
LIMERICK – Aaron Murphy; Stephen Walsh, Richie McCarthy, Tom Condon; Paudie O’Brien, Wayne McNamara, Gavin O’Mahony; Donal O’Grady, Paul Browne; Conor Allis, William Hickey, David Reidy; Graeme Mulcahy, Kevin Downes, Thomas O’Brien. Subs: James Ryan for Hickey (48 mins), Cathal King for O’Mahony (50 mins), Sean Tobin for T O’Brien (51 mins), Alan Dempsey for Allis (55 mins)
OFFALY – James Dempsey; Niall Wynne, Rory Hanniffy, James Rigney; Cathal Parlon, Ger Healion, Mark Egan; Peter Geraghty, Thomas Geraghty; Joe Bergin, Conor Mahon, Shane Dooley; Brian Carroll, Daniel Currams, Kevin Connolly. Subs: Sean Cleary for Connolly (51 mins), Stephen Quirke for Carroll (57 mins), Derek Morkan for Hanniffy (57 mins)
Referee: David Hughes (Carlow)