LIMERICK made their exit from the All-Ireland SHC this Saturday evening after a disappointing 1-17 to 1-16 defeat to Dublin in Thurles.
For just the third time in a decade the Limerick hurlers have exited the championship prior to the quarter final stage.
Symptomatic of the entire season TJ Ryan’s men depart on foot of another inconsistent display.
Not once in 2015 have the team reached the level of display they produced in the Croke Park defeat to Kilkenny in the All Ireland semi final last August.
In the end this All Ireland SHC round two qualifier was lost by just one point, but in terms of display, Limerick were again short of their best.
They will also look back and wonder what happened in the opening half. Without setting the world alright they were 1-8 to 0-3 ahead after 25-minutes and that was despite a first half tally of 10 wides.
By half time Limerick were ahead just 1-8 to 0-7 and then within seven minutes of the second half they trailed 0-12 to 1-8.
A whopping nine scores in succession for Dublin as Limerick failed to push-on after scoring the goal.
Credit Limerick did battle back and led 1-12 to 0-12 with just under 20-minutes to play.
In front of just over 25,500 spectators in a wet and windy Semple Stadium, it was Dublin that showed the greater composure in the final minutes to inflict another defeat on this Limerick panel.
The defeat is a repeat of the 2011 All Ireland quarter final loss to The Dubs.
That’s not to mention the losses in the 2013 Division Two league final and of course this Spring’s heavy league quarter final loss in Croke Park.
The pain of the previous defeats was supposed to bring a top display from Limerick but the old Achilles heel of inconsistency struck again.
Dublin set up with an extra defender and that left Paudie O’Brien as the spare man in the Limerick defence.
The Shannonsiders were aided by the breeze in the opening half but the rain negated it’s influence in the first 35-minutes, especially.
Given the tactics of Ger Cunningham’s Dublin, Limerick have the lions share of possession in the first half but how it was used was far no clinical or cohesive.
Nonetheless Limerick held the early upperhand with Paudie O’Brien pointing and Shane Dowling adding a free before Ryan O’Dywer had Dublin off the mark in the sixth minute.
By the time Dublin scored again it was the 16th minute and Limerick were 0-4 to 0-2 ahead but the wides tally was already at seven.
Finally came a run of Limerick scores but Graeme Mulcahy’s was the only one from play.
That was until the 25th minute when David Breen goaled. Paul Browne did placed a lineball into the left corner forward position and Breen did well to advance around Liam Rushe before crashing to the net. Limerick were 1-7 to 0-2 clear.
But there was no momentum gained and by half time it was only 1-8 to 0-7.
The trend continued after half time and in the 42nd minute Dublin were ahead for the first time, 0-12 to 1-8 with Paul Ryan leading the way.
Finally a Dowling free ended 16-minutes without a Limerick score.
Three in a row (one from play) from sub Seanie Tobin looked to have settled Limerick and they led 1-12 to 0-12.
Plunkett and Dotsy O’Callaghan signalled warning signs with attempts on goals and in the 61st minute Nickie Quaid was beaten after a defensive mix-up between Seamus Hickey and Richie McCarthy helped O’Callaghan fire to the net.
Tobin’s free replied and the game was level for the third time - 1-14 each with six minutes remaining.
Five scores remaining and Dublin found their three from play while Limerick relied on Tobin frees.
Ultimately just one score from play in the final 20-minutes from Limerick and defeat was their lot on a night when the wides tally ended at 13 and Limerick scored just 1-6 from open play.
SCORERS: Limerick: Seanie Tobin 0-6 (5frees), Shane Dowling 0-4 (2frees, 2 ‘65), David Breen 1-0, Graeme Mulcahy and Declan Hannon (1 lineball) 0-2 each Paudie O’Brien and Kevin Downes 0-1 each. Dublin: Paul Ryan 0-12 (6frees), David O’Callaghan 1-0, Daire Plunkett 0-2, Ryan O’Dwyer, Mark Schutte and Cian Boland 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Seamus Hickey, Richie McCarthy, Seanie O’Brien; Paudie O’Brien, Gavin O’Mahony, Wayne McNamara; James Ryan, Paul Browne; Graeme Mulcahy, David Breen, Cian Lynch; Shane Dowling, Kevin Downes, Declan Hannon. Subs: Seanie Tobin for Shane Dowling (43mins), Dan Morrissey for Wayne McNamara (43mins), Donal O’Grady for David Breen (54mins), David Reidy for Declan Hannon (64mins), Cathal King for Paul Browne (69mins).
DUBLIN: Gary Maguire; Paul Schutte, Chris Crummey, Shane Barrett; Shane Durkin, Liam Rushe, Niall Corcoran; Johnny McCaffrey, Ryan O’Dwyer; Daire Plunkett, Eamon Dillon, Danny Sutcliffe; Paul Ryan, Conal Keaney, Mark Schutte. Subs: David O’Callaghan for Eamon Dillon (28mins), Joey Boland for Niall Corcoran (49mins), Cian Boland for Conal Keaney (57mins), David Treacy for Mark Schutte (64mins).
REFEREE: Cathal McAllister (Cork).