O'Sullivan heroics help Treaty end barren run
Limerick 2-6 Antrim 0-9
Ian Ryan and Sean McSweeney fired Limerick to victory as they ended a 12-game losing streak to reach round two of the football qualifiers.
Corrigan Park in Belfast was a daunting venue for John Brudair's side to finally come good, but that brace of goals in the opening eight minutes meant the home side always faced a tough test, especially when they failed to make the most of a strong wind in the opening half.
But in the end Limerick still needed some heroics from goalkeeper Donal O'Sullivan, who pulled off three excellent saves to deny Antrim likely goals, as Limerick can now prepare for the next round where Mayo and Cork are possible opponents.
Following their relegation to Division 4 without winning a game earlier this year, and their recent Munster championship defeat to Clare, Limerick came into this game with confidence in the camp at a low ebb. However, once Ryan rattled in their first goal on five minutes they had a spring in their step and eventually emerged as deserved winners.
That goal came in response to a couple of easily-worked points from Ryan Murray and Kevin Niblock in the first two minutes, but the next six minutes saw Limerick punish a lethargic spell from the home side.
A fine McSweeney free was added to when Ryan got in behind for the first goal, before Darragh Treacy was hauled down five minutes later and McSweeney fired his penalty past Chris Kerr for a 2-1 to 0-2 lead.
Antrim did well to kick four of the next five points to only trail by 2-2 to 0-6 at half-time, but a fine save from O'Sullivan to deny Martin Johnson confirmed that Limerick's goal was under regular threat.
The impressive Stephen Cahill got Limerick off to a good start with the first point after the break, and after another fine O'Sullivan save, Ryan pointed a tricky free for a four-point lead.
The injured Tomas McCann was unable to start for Antrim, but he came on and added a threat up front for his side, and after his free and another from Murray, that lead was down to two again.
But Ryan settled Limerick with his second point and O'Sullivan saved Limerick again with a top-class stop to keep out Murray, and after that it was left to McSweeney to seal the win in added-time.
Scorers - Limerick: S McSweeney 1-3 (1-0 pen, 3f), I Ryan 1-2 (1f), S Cahill 0-1. Antrim: R Murray (2f), K Niblock (1f), P McBride 0-2; M Fitzpatrick, T McCann (f), S Burke 0-1.
Limerick: D O'Sullivan; P Browne, S Cahill, S O'Dea; B Fanning, J McCarthy, P Ranahan; D Treacy, S Buckley; G Noonan, P Nash, T Childs; S McSweeney, I Ryan (c), H Bourke. Subs: E Hogan for Bourke (50), P Hannon for Nash (63), I Corbett for Childs (66).
Antrim: C Kerr; K O'Boyle, J Crozier, R Johnson; P McBride, P Gallagher, M Sweeney; S McVeigh, M McCann; J Laverty, M Fitzpatrick, K Niblock (c); R Murray, N McKeever, S Burke. Subs: M Johnson for McVeigh (20), D McAleese for Laverty (30), C Murray for Gallagher (h-t), P McAleer for R Johnson (h-t), T McCann for McKeever (56), J Carron for Burke (66).
Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone).
Sunday Indo Sport