Ryan hits high note as Limerick edge thriller
IAN RYAN scored a stunning 1-7 from play as Limerick caused a huge upset when they dumped Offaly out of the championship in a thriller at the Gaelic Grounds.
Limerick played some outstanding football even though they wound up with 11 wides, but when Ger Collins struck for the third goal after 64 minutes it signalled the end for Offaly, who relied far too much on the scoring ability of veteran Ciarán McManus.
Tommy Stack returned for Limerick for the first time since 2005 and he marshalled a defence in which Johnny McCarthy and Pa Ranahan were always in control.
Stephen Kelly had an outstanding game at midfield and up front Ryan, Collins and Seamus O'Carroll had too much pace for the Offaly defence.
Offaly were raging favourites but two goals in a three-minute spell set the home side up for their shock victory.
Collins had Limerick in front with a point after four minutes but Ken Casey and Niall McNamee edged Offaly ahead after 12 minutes. Then followed a dramatic three minutes for Limerick, starting when Stephen Lavin created the chance for a superb goal by Ryan, who rocketed his shot into Alan Mulhall's net.
Three minutes later, Limerick had a second goal. This time Ranahan created the space for O'Carroll to beat Mulhall with a low shot to have Limerick 2-3 to 0-2 in front.
Offaly came more into the game with two frees by McManus with Bernard Allen getting another from play.
Limerick went nine minutes without a score before Ryan grabbed a point.
Two more pointed frees by McManus and another from play by Niall Daly left only three points between them at the interval (2-5 to 0-8).
Four of the Offaly points were frees, while all of Limerick's scores came from play. Offaly had nine first-half points compared to five for Limerick but the visitors had outscored the home side by six points to one in the final quarter.
Not surprisingly, Offaly picked up the pace on the resumption and had the deficit down to two points on three occasions, but the goal by Collins after 64 minutes gave Limerick their clear win.
Scorers -- Limerick: I Ryan 1-7, G Collins 1-2, S O'Carroll 1-0, S Kelly 0-2 (2f), T Lee, E Hogan 0-1 each. Offaly: C McManus 0-8 (8f), K Casey, N Daly 0-2 each, B Allen, N McNamee, P Bracken 0-1 each.
Limerick: B Scanlon; T Stack, S Gallagher, S Lavin; J Riordan, J McCarthy, P Ranahan; S Buckley, T Lee; S Kelly, J Mullane, M Sheehan; G Collins, S O'Carroll, I Ryan. Subs: B Fitzpatrick for Mullane (48), E O'Connor for Gallagher (59), E Hogan for O'Carroll (61).
Offaly: A Mulhall; B Darby, J Quinn, S Pender; S Lonergan, R Brady, K Slattery; R Dalton, N Smith; C McManus, S Brady, N Daly; B Allen, K Casey, N McNamee. Subs: N Dunne for Daly (54), D Egan for Allen, N Spain for Lonergan (both 61).
Referee: M Condon (Waterford)
Sunday Indo Sport