Limerick fightback not enough to worry dominant Dublin

Dublin kept their promotion hopes on track as their full forwards shone in a one-sided encounter

Allianz Football League Division 2: Dublin 2-17 Limerick 1-11

A second-half resurgence, during which Limerick outscored Dublin by 1-3 to 0-0 in the third quarter, wasn’t enough as the Sky Blues ran out comfortable nine-point winners on Shannonside.

A crowd of 3,670 in the TUS Gaelic Grounds watched Dessie Farrell’s charges make light work of the second-tier newcomers as recently-relegated Dublin kept the pressure on division leaders Derry and Meath in their push for a quick return to Division 1.

In a one-sided affair, Dublin’s starting full forward line starred, with Ross McGarry, Dean Rock and Con O’Callaghan scoring 1-13 between them – of which 1-9 came in the opening half. Rock and Brian Fenton got the ball rolling with early goals for the Dubs.


However, after Dublin held a more than comfortable 13-point lead at half-time – 2-12 to 0-5 –, a much-improved Limerick came flying out of the blocks in the second half and, boosted by an early Hugh Bourke goal, Ray Dempsey’s men reduced Dublin’s led to just seven points.

The Dubs responded to the hosts’ impressive improvement, extending their winning margin to nine points by the time Galway referee James Molloy called a halt to proceedings.

In what was the first competitive meeting between the two sides since 2007, Dublin corner back Greg McEneaney coolly slotted over the game’s opening point after just 52 seconds – a sign of things to come.

The Dubs were 0-4 to 0-1 to the good after 10 minutes thanks to scores from McEneaney, Rock (two frees) and Ross McGarry, with Cian Sheehan getting Limerick off the mark in the seventh minute.

This was just Dublin’s third visit to Limerick for a competitive senior football game. Previously, the sides contested a league clash in Askeaton in March 1993, the Sky Blues emerging 0-15 to 0-9 winners, before the Dubs narrowly overcame the Shannonsiders by 0-14 to 1-10 in the Gaelic Grounds in February 2007.

Dublin opened up a nine-point advantage by the 20th minute after Rock coolly slotted home a penalty midway through the opening half. Sheehan’s early point remaining Limerick’s only score at that stage .

Dublin the added three points without response as O’Callaghan, Rock and McGarry increased their tallies.

Limerick pulled one back eight minutes before half time when Adrian Enright pointed after linking up with James Naughton.

However, directly from the resulting kick out, Fenton raised the green flag by scoring Dublin’s second goal of the afternoon, tapping in O’Callaghan’s rebounded effort to put 13 points between the sides.

Rock, Dáire Newcomb, and O’Callaghan pointed either side of a Naughton free and two superb efforts from Limerick talisman Sheehan as Farrell’s men took a well-deserved 13-point lead into the half time break.

After an unexpected slow start to the second half, first half substitute Hugh Bourke gave Limerick a glimmer of hope three minutes after the restart. The Adare clubman took full advantage of a loose ball after Naughton’s effort on goal was blocked before rounding David O’Hanlon and finding the back of the net.

After a much-improved performance from Limerick, in a period they were reduced to 14 after Killian Ryan received a black card in the 45th minute, Naughton (free), Enright, and Bourke reduced Dublin’s winning margin to seven points by the 50th minute.

Dublin found their next gear again, however, and quickly stretched their lead by sending over four points in a four-minute spell. . Rock’s 52nd minute point – Dublin’s first score in 18 minutes of play – was followed by efforts from McGarry and O’Callaghanbefore Rock added another.

A late flurry of points from Limerick reduced the deficit to nine, as the visitors slowly began to take the foot off the pedal.

It was a much-needed win in Dublin’s promotion bid after both Derry and Meath beat Louth and Clare respectively.

Limerick: Donal O’Sullivan; David Connolly, Sean O’Dea, Barry Coleman; Brian Fanning, Cillian Fahy, Michael Donovan; Cian Sheehan (0-03), Iain Corbett (0-01); Paul Maher, James Naughton (0-04, four frees), Gordon Browne; Adrian Enright (0-02), Colm McSweeney, Davy Lyons.

Subs: Hugh Bourke (1-01) for Ryan (22 minutes), Killian Ryan for Sheehan (half-time), Peter Nash for Browne (59), Tony McCarthy for O’Donovan (60), Robbie Bourke for O’Dea (68)

Dublin: David O’Hanlon; Cian Murphy, Seán MacMahon, Greg McEneaney (0-01); Lee Gannon, Dáire Newcomb (0-01), Lorcan O’Dell (0-01); Brian Fenton (1-00), Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne; Niall Scully; Tom Lahiff, Ciaran Kilkenny; Ross McGarry (0-04), Dean Rock (1-05, four frees, one penalty), Con O’Callaghan (0-04)

Subs: Colm Basquel for O’Dell (45 minutes), Killian O’Gara (0-01) for McGarry (60), Adam Fearon for Gannon (64), Sean Lowry for O’Callaghan (66), Ben Millist for McEneaney (69)

Referee: James Molloy (Galway)