Already relegated from Division 3, Limerick’s National Football League campaign ended with a sixth successive defeat in Newcastle West yon Sunday afternoon where Offaly’s victory was far more comfortable than the final margin of six points suggests.
A performance lacking direction, spirit and conviction was flattered by being given an early three-point lead and five unanswered closing points when the winners put their feet up, brought on the subs and allowed their opponents to move unchallenged into the score zone.
For the third outing in a row, Limerick were hammered when it mattered, showing none of Offaly’s ability to regain possession, attack with purpose or bring team-mates into play.
Killian Ryan opened and was followed by two from Danny Neville before Michael Brazil opened for Offaly. Peter Nash replied but the visitors woke up for Anton Sullivan, Nigel Dunne’s free, Peter Cunningham, Dunne’s free, Johnny Moloney, Leon Fox and Niall McNamee to put them in front. Neville’s free and Darragh Tracey pulled two back before Fox left Offaly leading 0-9 to 0-6 at the break.
Two from Dunne were met by Stepehen Kelly and the Newcastlewest man also replied with a free to McNamee before Offaly moved up the gears. Dunne’s free, Niall Smith and Graham Guilfoyle put them seven ahead before corner-back Seán Pender collected Guilfoyle’s pass to send home the game’s only goal.
After Dunne added a point, Offaly chilled out, allowing three Neville frees Nash and Paul White to take the bare look off Limerick’s tally.
SCORERS - Offaly: Nigel Dunne 0-5 (two frees), Seán Pender 1-0, Leon Fox, Niall McNamee 0-2 each, Michael Brazil, Peter Cunningham, Johnny Moloney, Joe Maher (free), Niall Smith, Graham Guilfoyle 0-1 each; Limerick: Danny Neville 0-5 (four frees), Peter Nash, Stephen Kelly (one free) 0-2 each, Killian Ryan, Darragh Tracey, Paul White 0-1 each.
OFFALY: Alan Mulhall; Brian Darby, Eoin Rigney, Seán Pender; Niall Darby, Johnny Moloney, Joey O’Connor; Eoin Carroll, Niall Smith; Leon Fox, Peter Cunningham, Michael Brazil; Nigel Dunne, Anton O’Sullivan, Niall McNamee. Subs: Graham Guilfoyle for Leon Fox (42 mins), Joe Maher for Peter Cunningham (42 mins), Nigel Bracken for Michael Brazil (55 mins), Cian Donoghue for Eoin Rigney (63 mins), Seán Doyle for Joe Maher (63 mins), Jason Gethings for Niall Smith (68 mins), Joey O’Connor (black card - 70 mins, not replaced)
LIMERICK: Brian Scanlon; Johnny McCarthy, Paudie Browne, Seán O’Dea; Killian Ryan, Iain Corbett, Stephen Cahill; Michael O’Donovan, Darragh Tracey; Cian Sheehan, Danny Neville, Garrett Noonan; Killian Ryan, Peter Nash, Brian Fanning. Subs: Donal O’Sullivan for Brian Scanlon (injured - 17 mins), Paul Hannon for Michael O’Donovan (20 mins), Stephen Kelly for Killian Ryan (35 mins), Paul White for Brian Fanning (44 mins), Colm Moran for Seán O’Dea (59 mins), Seán Flanagan for Garrett Noonan (59 mins).
REFEREE: Éamonn O’Grady (Leitrim).