Sport Gaelic Football

Saturday 17 March 2018

Treaty triumph in late drama


There will scarcely be a more dramatic end to a game of football this year than the one we were treated to in O'Moore Park last night.

Wexford seemed set for victory when they led by three points as the 70th minute ticked by, but Limerick substitute Eoghan O'Connor drew his team level with a coolly taken goal after winning possession in a crowded square.

In the fifth minute of injury-time Ian Ryan won and converted the winning free, but it was a hugely controversial score because one umpire waved it wide before referee Derek Fahy adjudged it was a point.

It was a frantic finish to a match that was played to a great tempo. In the opening minutes Wexford kept winning turn-over ball deep in Limerick territory, and PJ Banville slotted over two nice points to help his team into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after seven minutes.

Limerick needed someone to show some leadership, and Ryan was the first to put up his hand. He scored two beautiful points to give Limerick some much-needed momentum.

From then on the first half was a rip-roaring, to and fro struggle with neither team managing to establish any real dominance.

When Wexford hit three points in a row Limerick simply went down the field and emulated them, with forwards Stephen Kelly and Ger Collins really coming into the game with a vengeance.

It was Wexford who finished the half on a high, points from Adrian Morrissey and Ciaran Lyng helping them into a 0-10 to 0-9 lead at the break.

They maintained the momentum into the second half as Red Barry filched a well-taken point under pressure, and then Eric Bradley struck for a controversial goal when it looked like he'd fouled the ball by throwing it from one hand to another before blasting it to the net.

Limerick responded to this massive set-back in a very positive fashion. Ryan curled over another super score and then John Cooke and Collins followed it up with another couple of points to reduce the deficit to the minimum again -- 1-11 to 0-13.

Wexford seemed to be suddenly in reverse, but few teams are capable of changing through the gears like they are, and they put their foot to floor again to score four points in little more than as many minutes.

The fact that all four points came from four different men -- Brian Malone, Barry, Adrian Flynn and Ben Brosnan -- only made the feat more impressive.

Limerick mightn't have as much skill as Wexford, but they make up for it in heart, and once again they found their feet again just when it seemed like they were heading for the canvas.

They strung their own necklace of four points together, three of them frees, to move within one, but missed the chance to draw level when Collins kicked another free-kick wide.

Wexford looked to have done enough when Shane Roche and Brosnan got two late points, but once again Limerick proved they just don't know when they're beaten as O'Connor and Ryan produced those ever-so-late heroics.

Scorers -- Limerick: I Ryan (1f), S Kelly (3f) 0-5 each, G Collins 0-4 (2f), E O'Connor 1-0, J Cooke 0-2, T Lee, S O'Carroll 0-1 each. Wexford: E Bradley 1-0, R Barry, PJ Banville, B Brosnan (2f) 0-3 each, A Morrissey, A Flynn, C Lyng (2f) 0-2 each, S Roche, B Malone 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: J Cooke for J Mullane (22), E O'Connor for M Sheehan (50)J O'Donovan for S O'Carroll (55), J Kelly for J Cooke (64), B Fitzpatrick for J Riordan (67).

Wexford: A Masterson; J Wadding, G Molloy, B Malone; A Morrissey, D Murphy, A Doyle; D Waters, A Flynn; PJ Banville, C Morris, E Bradley; B Brosnan, C Lyng, R Barry. Subs: P Byrne for A Doyle (33), S Roche for C Morris (53), N Murphy for D Murphy (57), A Doyle for A Morrissey (65), C Carty for R Barry (69).

Referee: D Fahy (Longford)

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