Limerick take points but Kerry take the plaudits for strong finish
Limerick 1-19 Kerry 1-15
Limerick were made to work much harder for their brace of League points, than many expected by a reinvigorated Kerry side in this keenly-contested Allianz NHL Division 1B clash at a wind and rain-lashed Fitzgerald Stadium Killarney yesterday.
In fact of the two managers, Kerry boss Ciaran Carey will possibly be happier than his Limerick counterpart and former team-mate TJ Ryan.
"Two points is good," said Ryan afterwards. "That's about the only positive I can come up with right now. It was poor (the second-half).
"We used the ball well to a degree but our decision-making from the halfway line up left a lot to be desired. (We) didn't play well enough, didn't use the ball well enough, and should've got more scores. We played the second-half at Kerry's pace, simple as."
The Kingdom confounded the doubters with a gutsy second-half display. After trailing by 11 points at the interval having played into the teeth of a gale, they showed no fear after the interval as they outscored Limerick 0-10 to 0-3 to finish much closer to MacCarthy Cup hopefuls Limerick than most had expected.
Limerick had the strong wind to their backs in the opening half and after a slow opening ten minutes really got going against a Kerry side who were hurling well against the elements. The Treaty men led 0-4 to 0-2 after ten, but the hosts began to turn over ball as they tried to play the short passing game against the wind.
Almost inevitably Declan Hannon and David Reidy punished Kerry as Limerick struck for a crucial goal in the 19th minute, when Gavin O'Mahony found Hannon, who fired low to the net.
Further points from Diarmuid Byrne (free) and Graham Mulcahy had Limerick 1-11 to 0-2 in front.
But it did scant justice to Kerry's efforts. Paul Browne, David Reidy and Barry Nash were in top form for Limerick but the Kerry defence, well marshalled by Bryan Murphy, Sean Weir and Keith Carmody, were keeping them at long range.
However, Kerry finished the half well with Mikey Boyle doubling on a Shane Nolan ball that dropped in the danger zone for a vital Kerry goal but Limerick went into the half-time dressing room with a 1-16 to 1-5 advantage.
It was all Kerry in the second half as Limerick were forced on the back foot and only managed 0-3, two Declan Hannon frees and their solitary second-half score from play, came via substitute Sean Tobin.
Kerry, with Tommy Casey and Patrick Kelly driving them on as their defence, fought manfully for every ball, opening the second period with a point from teenager Jack Goulding and, only for seven second-half wides, an upset was on the cards. Nolan, John Egan from frees and play, and substitute Philip Lucid chipped in (with 0-2 off the bench) as Kerry closed the gap to five.
The Kingdom then had a goal chance which was ruled out due to a square ball. Patrick Kelly fired over the last point for Kerry, who just came up short.
Scorers - Limerick: D Hannon (0-4f) 1-4; B Nash 0-4; D Byrnes (2f, 1 65), D Reidy 0-3 each; P Browne 0-2; C Lynch, G Mulcahy, S Tobin 0-1 each. Kerry: S Nolan (4f), J Egan (2f ) 0-4 each; M Boyle 1-0; P Lucid (f), M O'Leary 0-2 each; J Goulding, P Kelly, C Harty 0-1 each.
Limerick: N Quaid 8; T Condon 8, R McCarthy 8, R English 8, D Morrissey 7, D Byrne 8, S Hickey 6, D O'Donovan 6, P Browne 8, D Reidy 8, G O'Mahony 6, C Lynch 7, G Mulcahy 6, D Hannon 7, B Nash 8. Subs: J Fitzgibbon 6 for D O'Donovan (29), P O'Brien 6 for D Reidy (50), S Tobin 7 for G Mulcahy (54), T Morrissey 6 for B Nash (58), P Ryan 6 for T Condon (60).
Kerry: M Stackpoole 7; S Weir 8, B Murphy 8, K Carmody 8; D Collins 7, J Griffin 7, T Murnane 6; P Kelly 8, T Casey 8; S Nolan 6, M O'Leary 7, C Harty 8; J Egan 7, M Boyle 7, J Goulding 6. Subs: J Conway 6 for S Nolan (55), P Lucid 6 for J Goulding (63), J Diggins for D Collins (70).
Ref - J Ryan (Tipperary).