Early goal sets up well rounded Offaly win
Offaly 1-18 Limerick 0-14
Brendan Murphy's proved the winner at Semple Stadium today as Offaly doggedly refused to let go of the lead that it provided from so early on in their Senior Hurling championship against Limerick.Limerick refused to cave in despite their early setback and for the most part kept themselves in touch with some good points but as the game progressed Offaly gradually stretched their lead thanks to their more adventurous attacking play.
Offaly went in at halftime leading by two points, thanks largely to that incredible individual goal from Murphy.
Murphy picked the ball up just inside the Limerick half and saw the defence inexplicably open up right in front of him as he raced through the middle.
What looked to be a reasonable pointing opportunity suddenly turned into an easy goal opportunity that Murphy booted into the Limerick net.
Limerick took some nice points from outfield through Clem Smith and Conor Fitzgerald but never really looked as dangerous around the goal as their opponents.
Nevertheless their accuracy from long range kept them in touch until the interval.
Three points were shared in the opening stages of the second half, as the tempo and the temperature rose in Semple Stadium, before Limerick missed their second 65 through John Mescall.
Ger Oakley conceded another moments later, to which Fitzgerald stepped up, but the result was the same and Limerick could well have been level by that stage.
Andrew O'Shaughnessy however was in no mood to let the Limerick pressure go unrewarded and fired a point low and hard after robbing possession deep inside the Offaly half.
In response however Barry Whelahan pointed brilliantly from midfield.
Rory Hannify pointed moments later after some brave play from Simon Whelahan earned a free in and the lead was now four before Fitzgerald kept Limerick in touch with his fifth and final point before being substituted.
In Fitzgerald's absence, Mescall pointed from in front of the posts after a foul around centre field but Rory Hannify responded immediately with his sixth point to maintain a three point gap.
Barry Whelahan pushed that lead out to four with yet another glorious strike from midfield before brother Simon opened it up even further.
Rory Hannify pointed again from in front of the posts after Offaly were rather unjustly awarded a free in front of the posts.
Limerick frustration boiled over to mar the end of the match somewhat with Stephen Lucey receiving a yellow card for a dangerously late challenge on Brian Mullins that left the Offaly keeper in need of a blood substitution.
Offaly gratefully took the breather and regained their composure to see out the game despite a frantic finish.