Four-goal Limerick blast past Offaly for first league win

All-Ireland champions named 12 players who started 2021 championship final on Sunday

Limerick 4-29 Offaly 0-17

It wasn't by any means a classic performance from John Kiely's men 28 days out from their Championship opener against Cork on Easter Sunday, but goals from Oisin O'Reilly, Cian Lynch, Barry Nash, and Pat Ryan ensured Limerick secured their first win of their Division 1A league campaign with a comfortable 24-point margin over Offaly at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday afternoon.

Aaron Gillane put in an all-action display, top-scoring to finish the game with 0-12, while Luke O'Connor's free-scoring efforts kept a battling Offaly side in with a fighting chance with 0-07 for Michael Fennelly's side.

Despite not firing on all cylinders in the first half, All-Ireland champions Limerick led 1-16 to 0-10 at the interval, but really upped the tempo in the second half to run out 4-29 to 0-17 winners, outscoring Offaly three points to one in the final 35 minutes.

Fennelly's Offaly only earned promotion to this division last year, but now the Faithful County must navigate a relegation play-off against Antrim.

Looking to get their first win of the league season, Limerick named 12 of the players who started the 2021 All-Ireland final against Cork, all of seven months ago.

John Kiely welcomed Mike Casey back into the team as the Na Piarsaigh full-back made his first start for the Treaty men since the 2020 league tie against Waterford following prolonged knee ligament issues.

Aided by a strong breeze, Offaly got off to the brighter start with Luke O'Connor getting the better of Sean Finn inside the opening minute for the game's opening point.

However, by the sixth minute Limerick led by 0-4 to 0-2 thanks to scores from Aaron Gillane, Diarmaid Byrnes, and Graeme Mulcahy after both sides were level twice in the early stages.

Limerick were really finding their rhythm at this stage and the game-changing moment came in the 11th minute - a superb pass from Darragh O'Donovan found Oisin Reilly. The Kilmallock man turned his marker to blast into the back of the net.

The point of the game came six minutes later. Hegarty did well to find Gillane, but the quick-thinking Patrickswell man looked over his shoulder to find Darragh O'Donovan in space behind him.

O’Donovan - with all the time in the world - slotted over to open up a comfortable six-point lead, an advantage Limerick extended to nine by half time.

Offaly got the opening point of the second half, but Limerick, who stepped it up a gear in the final 35 minutes, scored five points without reply before Cian Lynch linked up well with Mulcahy before the 2021 hurler of the year raised the green flag just seven minutes after the restart.

Scores from Leon Fox and Luke O'Connor reduced arrears to 14 10 minutes into the second half, but Limerick completely took over from there on in.

Barry Nash and substitute Pat Ryan both hit the back of the net to fire Limerick to a 24-point victory.

Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Seán Finn, Mike Casey, Barry Nash (1-0); Diarmaid Byrnes (0-3, two frees), Declan Hannon (capt.), Dan Morrissey; Cathal O'Neill (0-2), Darragh O'Donovan (0-1); Gearoid Hegarty (0-3), Cian Lynch (1-0), Tom Morrissey (0-1); Oisin O'Reilly (1-0), Aaron Gillane (0-12, six frees) Graeme Mulcahy (0-4).

Subs: Conor Boylan for Hegarty (44 mins), Colin Coughlan for Hannon 47 mins-50 mins, blood sub), David Reidy (0-1) for Lynch (56 mins), Pat Ryan (1-2) for O'Reilly (58 mins) Richie English for Casey (60mins), Adam English for Mulcahy (62 mins)

Offaly: Stephen Corcoran (0-3, three frees); Jack Screeny, Ben Connelly (capt.), David Nally (0-1); Ciaran Burke (0-1), David King, Killian Sampson; Adrian Cleary, Joey Keenaghan; Leon Fox (0-1), Jason Sampson, Eoghan Parlon; Eimhin Kelly (0-1), Paddy Clancy (0-1), Luke O'Connor (0-7, five frees, one '65).

Subs: John Murphy for Fox (23 mins to 26 mins, blood sub), John Murphy for Burke (half time), Liam Langton (0-2) for Parlon (half time), Padraig Cantwell for Keenaghan (44 mins), Eoghan Cahill for Cleary (52 mins), Dara Maher for Screeny (58 mins, inj) Rory Carty for Fox (66 mins, blood)

Referee: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny)