Limerick make amends as Dublin look short on inspiration
Dublin forwards struggle to get into the game as Limerick take Parnell Park win
Dublin’s Chris Crummy attempts to block a shot from John Fitzgibbon of Limerick Photograph: Inpho/Gary Carr
Limerick came to Dublin to make amends for last year and did so pulling up.
Their display in Croke Park in this fixture in the 2015 league was abject and spoke of a team that had played out their spring at a far lower level than Dublin. It didn’t look like that here, however, and they move onto the semi-final rounding into some sort of form.
On a fits-and-starts sort of an evening, they simply took better advantage of their good spells than Dublin did. Limerick had marginally the better of the opening half but their four point lead at the break was probably generous enough and owed as much to a stunning early Nickie Quaid save from Eamon Dillon as it did to any overwhelming proficiency at the other end.
Their half back line of Wayne McNamara, Ronan Lynch and especially Diarmaid Byrnes at six did a huge amount of breaking down and mopping up and stopped a lot of Dublin attacks just short of the killshot stage. Byrnes lobbed over a trio of fist-pump points from distance into the bargain, just to rub in their dominance of that part of the pitch.
Not for the first time in this league campaign, the Dublin forwards could find no obvious way into the game. Ger Cunningham’s side start every attack with a short puck-out, which automatically leaves their inside forwards living on crumbs and half-chances.
Although Fiontán McGibb showed plenty of willing and Niall McMorrow raised the odd gallop, once again you were looking at a set of Dublin forwards that spent their night waiting on the ball to exit their defence, meaning they were invariably covered and crowded by the time it did.
Dillon, in fairness, continued his phenomenal spring with a couple of points from the sideline on the run but if Dublin are relying on those flashes of inspiration for scores, the summer won’t be a long one.
With Shane Dowling, Kevin Downes and Ronan Lynch all thrown straight into the action fresh from Na Piarsigh’s All-Ireland win, Limerick were that bit more cutting. Dowling was touch perfect with his free-taking and when the game needed blowing apart, it was Downes who scored the 54th minute goal that did the damage.
Limerick’s 0-13 to 0-9 lead disappeared in the third quarter, with fine scores from McMorrow, Darragh O’Connell and Dotsy O’Callaghan hauling Dublin back to parity by the 50th minute. It was in the five minutes that followed that the game teetered definitively in Limerick’s direction.
First, Dublin had the chance to make it theirs and fluffed it. Dillon, a terror all night, jinked inside the Limerick full-back line and was taken down by Richie McCarthy. David Treacy stepped up to the penalty but Quaid was equal to it, diving to his left to bat it away.
Within 90 seconds, Limerick were bounding clear, as Downes speared home the Limerick goal after a loose ball in the Dublin full-back line was mopped up by James Ryan. It made the scoreline 1-16 to 0-15 in Limerick’s favour and though Dublin replied with points from Dillon and O’Connell, TJ Ryan’s side had found their groove by now.
They started landing scores from distance, with two off the bench from Paudie O’Brien and John Fitzgibbon especially heart-breaking for Dublin to watch as they sailed over from 70 metres. By the time Downes lobbed over another in the 64th minute, bringing his tally for the night to an impressive 1-2, Limerick were 1-20 to 0-18 ahead. All of which rendered a late Treacy goal more or less moot.
Dublin: Conor Dooley; Eoghan O’Donnell, Cian O’Callaghan, Oisin Gough; James Madden; Liam Rushe, Chris Crummey; Darragh O’Connell (0-2), Johnny McCaffrey; Seánie McGrath, Niall McMorrow (0-4), David Treacy (1-8, 0-8 frees); David O’Callaghan (0-1), Fiontán McGibb (0-1), Eamon Dillon (0-3). Subs: Daire Plunkett for McGrath, 33 mins; Mark Schutte for McGibb, 48 mins; Shane Barrett for Madden, 60 mins; Ben Quinn for O’Connell, 65 mins; Oisin O’Rorke for O’Callaghan, 67 mins
Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Seanie O’Brien, Richie McCarthy, Richie English; Wayne McNamara, Diarmaid Byrnes (0-3), Ronan Lynch (0-1, free); Gavin O’Mahony (0-2), Paul Browne (0-1); Barry Nash (0-2), James Ryan, Tom Morrissey (0-2); Graeme Mulcahy, Kevin Downes (1-2), Shane Dowling (0-6, 0-4 frees, 0-1 65). Subs: Paudie O’Brien (0-1) for McNamara, 50 mins; Gearóid Hegarty for Mulcahy, 54 mins; John Fitzgibbon (0-1) for Dowling, 58 mins; Cian Lynch for Morrissey, 65 mins
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly)