Battle for possession: Limerick's Jamie Lee challenges Jordan Morrissey of Carlow during the National Football league clash on Sunday
Limerick’s hopes of escaping from Division Four of the National Football League were seriously dimmed in the Gaelic Grounds yesterday when they crashed to Carlow for a second successive year.
Pointless after two outings, they have it all to do in their five remaining games and, even then, victory in all of them may not be enough to catch up with front-runners Carlow and favourites Laois, the side they crashed to in the previous round.
Just as in the case of last week in Portlaoise, effort and organisation failed to compensate for the gap in size and experience.
Giving away inches and muscle in every position in the middle third, they struggled to win primary possession and struggled all through with the kick out.
Limerick weren’t helped either by conceding a soft goal early in the first half which gave Carlow a lead they never subsequently relinquished and, while they pulled the gap back to a point on two occasions, they were flattened by a second goal which moved the visitors into the comfort zone.
However, Limerick never threw in the towel. A late run of four unanswered points brought some respectability to the scoreboard but, with another two players making their inter-county debut to add to the six who did so in the previous weekend, they never really threatened the goal they needed for a comeback.
Carlow could have had the result tied up earlier had they made full use of their physical advantage but slow buildup and a reluctance to commit players into attack allowed their opponents to close off the scoring opportunities. Until their second goal went in, nearly all of their scores had come from Paul Broderick’s frees.
Although Danny Neville opened the scoring after collecting off a quick free, Carlow’s dominance of the middle gave them most of the early possession.
However, slow buildup and poor shooting delayed the equaliser until Paul Broderick sent over a free but Limerick were back in front when Jamie Lee sent one over at the other end.
Pressure eased on the visitors when a Broderick free, dropping short off the target, was allowed to float into the home side’s net and he followed up by sending his next one over the bar. But Limerick recovered for Neville to finish off a Darragh Treacy run and Jim Liston struck from out near the left sideline.
Danny St Ledger replied with the ‘Winegums’ first score from play off a run from deep and they could have gone further ahead had O’Sullivan’s outstretched foot not stopped Broderick’s fly-kick off a scrambled ‘45’.
Jamie Lee scored on a pass and return off his quick free but that was the signal for the visitors to punish Limerick’s woes with the kickout.
As play was interrupted by a succession of off-the-ball arguments, Broderick pointed after picking up the clearance off his free and then sent one over directly, Darragh Foley converted the first placed ball on the left side and Ciarán Moran found the target after powering past three challenges. However, the home side struck the last blow off the half as Treacy narrowed the half-time deficit to 1-7 to 0-6.
Carlow’s dream restart was thwarted by Brian Fanning stopping Seán Gannon’s shot on the line and the clearance ended up with Peter Nash pointing at the other end of the field. Broderick replied with a free which was met by Jamie Lee but, Broderick sent another one over just after.
Limerick's hopes of a comeback were flattened when Darragh O’Brien was pulled down when releasing the trigger and, although O’Sullivan blocked the first shot, John Murphy followed up his penalty to stroke to the net.
Straight back from the kickout, Brendan Murphy widened the gap to eight and it stayed that way as Lee’s reply from a free was met by Seán Murphy.
At that point, the subs began to pour on and the Barrowsiders opted for containment. Limerick pressed forward and, while Seán O’Dea, Josh Ryan’s free, Garrett Noonan and Séamus O’Carroll cut into the margin, they never quite found the focus to their attacks to threaten the goal that they needed.
SCORERS, CARLOW: Paul Broderick 1-6 (1-5 frees), John Murphy 1-0, Danny St Ledger, Darragh Foley (free), Ciarán Moran, Brendan Murphy, Seán Murphy 0-1 each;
LIMERICK: Jamie Lee 0-4 (2 frees), Danny Neville 0-2, Jim Liston, Darragh Treacy, Peter Nash, Seán O’Dea, Josh Ryan (free), Garrett Noonan, Séamus O’Carroll 0-1 each.
CARLOW: Robbie Molloy; Shane Redmond, Conor Lawlor, Danny Moran; Jordan Morrissey, Danny St Ledger, Ciarán Moran; Brendan Murphy, Seán Murphy; Seán Glennon, Darragh Foley, Eoghan Ruth; Paul Broderick, Darragh O’Brien, John Murphy. SUBS: Brendan Kavanagh for Danny Moran (61 minutes), Diarmuid Walshe for Seán Murphy (61 minutes), Kieran Nolan for Ciarán Moran (70 minutes), Conor Crowley for Darragh O’Brien (72 minutes).
LIMERICK: Donal O’Sullivan; Garett Noonan, Seán O’Dea, Brian Fanning; Daniel Daly, Paul White, Jim Liston; Darragh Treacy, David Ward; Dave Connolly, Cillian Fahy, Tony McCarthy; Peter Nash, Danny Neville,
Jamie Lee. SUBS: Pádraig de Brún for Peter Nash (43 minutes), Séamus O’Carroll for Tony McCarthy (52 minutes), Josh Ryan for David Ward (52 minutes), Tommy Griffin for Paul White (61 minutes), Robbie Bourke for Jamie Lee (61 minutes), Colm McSweeney for Daniel Daly (68 minutes)
REFEREE: John Gilmartin (Sligo).
MAN OF THE MATCH: Carlow’s ability to keep pumping the ball forward
created the pressure that cracked the Limerick defence when scores were needed and much of it fed off the high fielding and pounding runs of former Aussie Rules player Brendan Murphy.