Ryan hails scoring 'spread' as Treaty see off Wexford
Limerick 2-23 Wexford 0-15
Conditions were dreadful in the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday night and for long spells of this contest the hurling matched the weather, but nevertheless this was a pretty significant start to the league for both these sides.
Wexford's promotion hopes now hang on them beating Clare next Sunday while Limerick's bid to end a six-year exile from the top flight will probably hang on their final game away to the Bannermen.
Limerick's use of the ball in the opening half on a glue-like surface, when they sprayed diagonal, shoulder-high passes, was encouraging for a side introducing some of last year's victorious U-21s and who also have the Na Piarsaigh lads to come back in next month.
But nobody who witnessed Wexford's lethargic approach in the opening half will be getting too excited about Limerick who looked vulnerable after the restart when Liam Dunne reorganised his troops and his men finally started to hurl.
By then the damage was done, the 0-16 to 0-4 deficit too much to claw back even with the wind.
"Well you have to be competitive," said Wexford selector Ger Cush. "We just didn't compete in the first half. At this level, you have to get going early, get into the game and give it your all. I don't know what was wrong."
Cush also stated that Jack Guiney, recalled to the squad before Christmas, was out with a hamstring injury."At the moment, Jack is part of the plan," said Cush amid rumours that his absence was due to another disciplinary issue. "He has a hamstring problem so we'll see how he is next week."
Wexford's marking in the opening half was dreadful and Limerick were first to nearly every ball.
Midfielder Paul Browne hit four points from play in the opening half and added another after the break, while Barry Nash crowned his league debut with two points in a minute.
Another of the All-Ireland U-21 winners, Diarmaid Byrnes, was rock solid at centre-back, although he was tested after the break when Andrew Shore switched e to centre-forward.
"Sixteen points on the board at half time was good," said Limerick manager TJ Ryan. "A good spread of scorers and we moved the ball quite well. From the start of the second half, we definitely have things to work on. But we'll look ahead to Kerry next week which becomes the most important thing."
"It's very hard to dominate a team for a full 70 minutes. I don't think you're ever going to do that. There are certainly items that we need to work on."
Shore's switch to attack, along with three interval substitutions and, presumably, a tongue-lashing in the dressingroom, saw Wexford lift themselves after the break and they outscored Limerick by 0-6 to 0-1 in the opening 11 minutes with Shore getting a brace and Harry Kehoe landing four frees.
The home support in the small crowd of 2,359 rightly began to fret but Graeme Mulcahy put them at ease when he poked home a rebound within a minute of coming on after goalkeeper Mark Fanning saved well from Tom Morrissey's shot.
Declan Hannon got the second goal in the dying moments.
Scorers - Limerick: D Hannon 1-4 (0-3f); G Mulcahy 1-1; P Browne & D Byrnes (0-3f) 0-4 each; B Nash, G O'Mahony & T Morrissey 0-2 each; J Fitzgibbon, D Reidy, C Lynch & S Tobin 0-1 each. Wexford: H Kehoe 0-6 (0-6 f); A Shore, L Chin, I Byrne (0-2 f) 0-2 each; M O'Hanlon, L Óg McGovern, S Murphy 0-1 each.
Limerick - N Quaid 6; T Condon 7, R McCarthy 7, R English 6; D Morrissey 6, D Byrnes 8, S Hickey 6; J Fitzgibbon 7, P Browne 9; B Nash 7, G O'Mahony 7, D Reidy 6; T Morrissey 7, D Hannon 7, C Lynch 6. Subs: G Mulchay 7 for Nash (47), D O'Donovan 6 for Fitzgibbon (53), S Tobin 6 for Reidy (61).
Wexford- M Fanning 8; A Kenny 5, M O'Hanlon 7, J Breen 6; A Shore 7, L Ryan 5, P Foley 5; L Chin 6, H Kehoe 6; C Dunbar 5, A Nolan 5, I Byrne 5; D Dunne 5, S Tompkins 5, L Óg McGovern 6. Subs: S Murphy 6 for Dunbar (27), E Conroy 5 for Foley (h-t), E Moore 5 for Nolan (h-t), P Doran 5 for Byrne (h-t), J O'Connor 5 for Tompkins (58).
Ref -D Kirwan (Cork)