Second half offers hope after disappointing first

Munster SHL Round 2: Limerick 3-19 Kerry 1-15

Pádraig Boyle
Pádraig Boyle

Damian Stack

There was more than a hint of deja vu to the first half.

Limerick, without even having to move through the gears, were coolly and calmly de-constructing a fragile looking Kerry side. We'd been here before. Twice already in the last twelve months as a matter of fact.

To have to endure a third successive heavy defeat at the hands of the Shannon-siders would have been a tough knock for a young Kerry side to take. At half-time Limerick were seventeen points clear, well on course to match if not exceed the twenty four point margin of victory they had over the Kingdom at this time last year.

For Kerry to manage to turn that seemingly dire situation around in the second half has to be taken as a huge positive regardless of whatever caveats one might attach to it. The principal one being that, with the game won, Limerick surely took their eye off the ball.

Surely they did. Even so Kerry had to pick themselves up off the deck and swing back at the home side. It took courage, it took perseverance, it took Pádraig Boyle to be on his game and it took a little luck along the way.

Boyle's goal was the defining moment of the second half. It capped Kerry's comeback, but also laid bare a certain sloppiness in the Limerick ranks. A long range free, one which drops short, should be dealt with by a full-back line.

In this instance, however a mix up ensured it nestled in the back of Barry Hennessy's net. No doubt this frustrated Limerick manager John Kiely to no end, but it was no less than Kerry's efforts deserved.

To a large extent Kerry were the authors of their own misfortune in the first half. Fintan O'Connor's men put themselves under all sorts of pressure early in the game by taking short puck-outs with Limerick men lurking and on the hunt.

It wasn't long before Kerry were made to pay. Barry Nash turned over a Kerry defender attempting to carry the ball from defence and then fed an on-song Seamus Flanagan, who finished expertly.

After that Kerry were left to chase shadows. A bit of a shame really given that they'd started the game positively enough. The goal, however, seemed to drain them of confidence for a time.

The Kingdom's return of just three points was disappointing. They were creating chances, but their rate of return was just twenty seven percent. When Limerick finished the half with goals on the twenty ninth (Flanagan again) and thirtieth minutes (Barry Nash with a brilliant long range drive) it seemed the second half would be largely academic.

Instead Kerry rallied and Limerick faded. How much one thing was to do with the other is debatable of course. It's probably a little bit of both. Limerick gave Kerry an opening to get back into the game and the Kingdom grabbed it with both hands.

In the second half Kerry outscored Limerick 1-12 to 0-8 with impressive contributions from players like Daniel Collins - ever effective - Daniel O'Carroll, Brandon Barrett - who pucked a great point - and Jordan Conway.

These are the glimmers of hope that you have to take from games against the big guns. Some days you're going to be fighting a rearguard action. It's how you deal with it that's important.

It's about how you front up and, despite it all, Kerry fronted up. That's more than enough for now.

Limerick: Barry Hennessy, Darragh Fanning, Richie English, Tom Condon, Diarmuid Byrne (0-1), Declan Hannon (0-1), William O'Meara, Paul Browne, Andrew LaTouche Cosgrave (0-2), Darragh O'Donovan (0-2), Barry Nash (1-5), Cian Lynch (0-1), Andrew Gillane (0-4, 2f), Seamus Flanagan (2-2), Barry Murphy Subs: Dan Morrissey for D Hannon, 23, Barry O'Connell for P Browne, half-time, Lorcan Lyons for C Lynch, half-time, Paddy McLoughlin (0-1) for T Condon, 48, Oisin O'Reilly for A Gillane, 56

Kerry: Stephen Murphy, Dougie Fitzell, Bryan Murphy, Seán Weir, Brendan O'Leary, John Buckley, Jason Diggins, Jack Goulding, Daniel Collins (0-2), Brandon Barrett (0-1), Daniel O'Carroll (0-1), Shane Conway, Pádraig Boyle (1-10, 1-8f), Colum Harty, Jordan Conway (0-1) Subs: James O'Connor for B O'Leary, half-time, Niall O'Mahony for S Weir, 40, Daithí Griffin for D Fitzell, 44, Philip Lucid for J Goulding, 53, Pádraig Quill for J Conway, 55

Referee: Joe Larkin (Cork)