Limerick dig deep as Dowling goal proves key to victory

Laois led by 1-9 to 0-5 at half-time

Limerick’s Shane Dowling: his  62nd minute goal was the critical score at O’Moore Park  on Sunday against Laois. Photograph: Inpho

Limerick’s Shane Dowling: his 62nd minute goal was the critical score at O’Moore Park on Sunday against Laois. Photograph: Inpho

 

Limerick dug deep to chisel out a desperately hard-fought win over a Laois side that is continuing on an upward curve, with a 62nd minute goal from substitute Shane Dowling the critical score at O’Moore Park.

The hosts led by 1-9 to 0-5 at half-time and were in no way flattered by that seven-point advantage as they shot nine wides in that period of dominance. And even though they tired in the final quarter, they will rue two missed goal chances in the second half.

Nickie Quaid made a smart save from Neil Foyle before the otherwise excellent John Purcell failed to find his even more outstanding team-mate Tommy Fitzgerald with a simple hand-pass on the edge of the small parallelogram.

Improvement
To give Limerick credit, they improved significantly in the second half. Even allowing for the wind, Limerick were outbattled in that opening period.

Donal O’Grady came on at half-time to add workrate to their cause. Dowling was introduced 10 minutes later after Conor Allis had missed his third free and the Na Piarsaigh marksman’s accuracy from placed balls was almost as important as the goal that gave Limerick the lead for the very first time in the game.

“We created a couple of half-goal chances early on and didn’t take them and they kind of grew in confidence a bit,” said Limerick joint manager, TJ Ryan. “Maybe we didn’t get the pace of the game up where we wanted to but Laois played well at the start. There’s plenty determination and plenty character in this team. The second-half performance was good.”


Physical exchanges
Laois came out on top in the physical exchanges in the first half and it was winning another 50-50 challenge around the middle that set up the move that ended with Fitzgerald’s 25th-minute goal.

Limerick scored four of the first five second-half points but when the Purcell brothers, Paddy and John, responded at the other end, the margin was still six with 20 minutes remaining.

Séamus Plunkett’s men started to run out of puff in the final quarter and the margin was down to one when Dowling pounced on a rebound after Graeme Mulcahy’s shot had been blocked to strike the vital goal. Further points from David Reidy and Dowling (free) cemented the win.

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