The Limerick footballers were beaten 2-16 to 1-6 by Armagh in Kilmallock on Sunday afternoon.
It wasn’t one of the games at the top of Limerick’s hit list for their National Football League Division 3 programme and the prohibitive odds on an Armagh victory were justified by a comprehensive thirteen-point victory yesterday in Kilmallock.
Following on their previous heavy defeat to Tipperary, Limerick were given another demonstration of the gap separating them from the division’s promotion contenders at the moment.
However, they made a better fist of it on this occasion against opponents who chalked up their third win out of three and look set on an immediate return to the league’s top half after their surprise relegation last spring.
Despite starting against the breeze, Armagh made the early running and capitalised on defensive mistakes for Tony Kernan’s free and Finian Moriarty to give them an early lead. Limerick settled down after that and began to build the moves but, unlike their opponents, were unable to find the target when the opportunity arose.
After they missed their first free, their opponents got moving again and, when Andrew Murnin got in front of his marker to flick a long delivery into the path of Aidan Forker, the Maghery man drilled into Brian Scanlon’s net. When the misdirected kickout led to Micheál McKenna putting six between the sides, it looked as if the floodgates were about to open but Limerick took a grip around the middle to hold the tide.
Another spell of pressure led to Cillian Fahey getting their opening score but the Ulstermen replied immediately through Ethan Rafferty. However, the game refused to snuff out and Limerick pulled themselves back into contention when Gearóid Hegarty bustled down the right and, after his shot was saved, his midfield partner Tom Lee got it over the line at the second attempt.
Minutes later, Hegarty could have tied up the scores but his high-flying flick from the edge of the square was cleared off the goal-line and Limerick had to settle for Danny Neville’s free.
Forker hit back for Armagh when beating his marker to the high ball and, even though Neville replied with a free, McKenna’s strike under pressure left the the Orchard County leading 1-6 to 1-2 at the break.
When they resumed, Kernan sent over an immediate free as Limerick missed two chances off Cian Sheehan’s passes across the face of the goals. The second, coming after McKenna had stretched the gap further, led to a ‘45’ and then a free which Brian Scanlon converted but Armagh hit back through McKenna and Mark Shields. The next action killed off the contest as the Ulstermen piled onto the kickout and Shields was on hand to collect off Caolán Rafferty to slot past Scanlon and it was academic after that.
SCORERS - Armagh: Micheál McKenna 0-6, Aidan Forker, Mark Shields 1-1 each, Tony Kernan 0-3 (2 frees), Ciarán O’Hanlon 0-2, Finnian Moriarty, Ethan Rafferty, Caolán Rafferty 0-1 each; Limerick: Tom Lee 1-0, Danny Neville 0-2 (2 frees), Cillian Fahy, Brian Scanlon (free), Garrett Noonan, Seanie Buckley (free) 0-1 each.
ARMAGH: Niall Geoghegan; Andy Mallon, Charlie Vernon, Mickey Murray; Aidan Forker, Finnian Moriarty, Mark McConville; Aaron Findon, Peter Carragher; Caolán Rafferty, Micheál McKenna, Mark Shields; Tony Kernan, Ethan Rafferty, Andrew Murnin. Subs: Ciarán O’Hanlon for Andrew Murnin (44 mins), Stephen Harold for Peter Carragher (51 mins), Eugene McVerry for Aidan Forker (51 mins), Gavin McParland for Aaron Findon (56 mins), Paddy Morrison for Niall Geoghegan (64 mins).
LIMERICK: Brian Scanlon; Colm Moran, Johnny McCarthy, Robert Browne; Iain Corbett, Pádraig Browne, Cillian Fahy; Tom Lee, Gearóid Hegarty; Darragh Treacy, Danny Neville, Seanie Buckley; Mikey Lyons, Cian Sheehan, Micheál Brosnan. Subs: Peter Nash for Mikey Lyons (22 mins), David Ward for Micheál Brosnan (52 mins), Garrett Noonan for Tom Lee (59 mins), Pakie Moran for Colm Moran (61 mins), Jason Mullins for Danny Neville (61 mins), John Riordan for Gearóid Hegarty (68 mins).
REFEREE: John Hickey (Carlow).