MARK it down to experience and move on, is about all that Limerick can do with this first ever All-Ireland quarter-final appearance.
Back on June 4 in the Gaelic Grounds Limerick were terrible and lost to Kerry by 11 points in the Munster semi-final.
Maurice Horan’s men regrouped and battled their way through three rounds of qualifiers to book a historic first championship appearance in Croke Park.
Then as luck would have it, newly crowned Munster champions Kerry awaited.Revenge time for Limerick.
Yes, Limerick played better, so some how lost by more than the June meeting.
Simply, this year Kerry are a different class.
Over the last decade Limerick teams were probably better equipped to reach the later stages of the championship, but failed to do so.
This is pretty much a young Limerick side and the experience is one that they must strieve to build upon.
As underdogs, Limerick needed everything to fall into place if they were to shock the 1/33 hot favourites.
And from an early stage it was clear that is wasn’t going to be one of those days.
Limerick had set out a defensive plan that involved handing Stephen Lucey a first championship start of 2011 to curb Kieran Donaghy. Lucey missed the last tie due to injury and the qualifiers due to hurling commitments.
But in the seventh minute he was forced off with a hamstring injury and replaced by another returning dual player Mark O’Riordan.
Limerick were already three points in arrears at this point with Stephen Kelly missing early frees from the right.
Kelly was to be one of the Limerick stars of the day but his luck was out on eight minutes when he rolled a shot goalwards from close range after himself and Ian Ryan forced a turn-over of possession.
If you are to topple the favourites, shots like that needto find the net and to make it worse Buckley missed the ’45 and another Ger Collins wide followed.
Finally in the 16th minute Kelly had Limerick off the mark and then Seamus O’Carroll followed to leave it 0-5 to 0-2 with 20 minutes played.
Then came another cruel turning point.
It appeared that a powerful run from Kelly was brought to an end with an illegal shoulder as he raced on goal, but the refereee waved play on and swiftly down the field went Kerry and a final pass from Bryan Sheehan was checkily back-heeled past Brian Scanlon to the net by Darran O’Sullivan.
Within 90 seconds Scanlon was at the other end of the field to convert a long range free but soon it was 1-8 to 0-3 before Ian Ryan pointed a free for a seven point interval deficit.
On the change of ends, Limerick showed their best form.
Kelly led the charge and kicked two points, while Ger Collins added another as the lead was cut to a managable four points within three minutes.
But it was a goal that Limerick needed and twice Kelly had glimpses of the net and in the seventh minute of the half O’Carroll brought a fine save from Kealy in the Kerry goal.
But still at 1-8 to 0-7 Limerick were back in the game.
Then Kerry got another break. Mark O’Riordan was down injured and the referee forced Limerick to play on, with the extra man Kerry moved possession across the field and Bryan Sheehan came through from midfield to loft over their opening score of the half.
They were back in business and although another point came from Kelly, the Kerry machine was rolling and five successive points made the game safe at 1-15 to 0-8 with 10 minutes to play.
SCORERS – Limerick: Stephen Kelly 0-4, Ian Ryan 0-2 (both frees), Ger Collins, Seamus O’Carroll, Brian Scanlon (free), John Riordan 0-1 each. Kerry: Darran O’Sullivan 1-3, Bryan Sheehan 0-6 (four frees, one 45), Colm Cooper 0-3 (two frees), Declan O’Sullivan, Tomas O’Se 0-2 each, Anthony Maher, Killian Young, James O’Donoghue, Kieran Donaghy 0-1 each.
LIMERICK - Brian Scanlon; Johnny McCarthy, Stephen Lucey, Tommy Stack; Stephen Lavin, Pa Ranahan, John Riordan; Seanie Buckley, Shane Gallagher; Seamus O’Carroll, Stephen Kelly, John Cooke; Ger Collins, Eoghan O’Connor, Ian Ryan. Subs: Mark O’Riordan for Lucey (injured - 7 mins), John Mullane for Cooke (injured h-t), Jim O’Donovan for Gallagher (h-t), Barry Fitzpatrick for O’Riordan (58 mins), Eoin Hogan for Mullane (62 mins).
KERRY – Brendan Kealy; Killian Young, Marc O’Se, Tom O’Sullivan; Tomas O’Se, Eoin Brosnan, Aidan O’Mahony; Anthony Maher, Bryan Sheehan; Paul Galvin, Declan O’Sullivan, Donnchadh Walsh; Colm Cooper, Kieran Donaghy, Darren O’Sullivan. Subs: Kieran O’Leary for Darran O’Sullivan (injured - 32 mins), Shane Enright for O’Mahony (48 mins), Seamus Scanlon for Maher (52 mins), James O’Donoghue for Galvin (52mins), Daniel Bohan for Brosnan (52mins).
REFEREE – Pat McEnaney (Monaghan).