Monday 18 December 2017

Limerick end miserable losing streak with win over Antrim

Limerick 2-6 Antrim 0-9

Darragh Treacy of Limerick has a shot at goal charged down by Kevin O'Boyle
Darragh Treacy of Limerick has a shot at goal charged down by Kevin O'Boyle

Declan Rooney

Ian Ryan and Sean McSweeney fired Limerick to victory as they ended a 12-game losing streak to reach round two of the football qualifiers.

Corrigan Park in Belfast was a daunting venue for John Brudair’s side to finally come good, but that brace of goals in the opening eight minutes meant the home side always faced a tough test, especially when they failed to make the most of a strong wind in the opening half.

But in the end Limerick still need some heroics from goalkeeper Donal O’Sullivan, who pulled of three excellent saves to deny Antrim likely goals, as Limerick can now prepare for the next round where Mayo and Cork are possible opponents.

Following their relegation to Division 4 without winning a game earlier this year, and their recent Munster championship defeat to Clare, Limerick came into this game with confidence in the campat a low ebb. However once Ryan rattled their first goal after five minutes they developed a considerable spring in their step and eventually emerged deserved winners.

That goal came in response to a couple of easily worked points from Ryan Murray and Kevin Niblock in the first two minutes, but the next six minutes saw Limerick punish a lethargic spell from the home side.

A fine McSweeney free was added to when Ryan got in behind for the first goal, before Darragh Treacy was hauled down five minutes later and McSweeney fired his penalty past Chris Kerr for a 2-1 to 0-2 lead.

Sean Burke of Antrim is tackled by Paul Hannon of Limerick
Sean Burke of Antrim is tackled by Paul Hannon of Limerick

Antrim did well to kick four of the next five points to only trail by 2-2 to 0-6 at half-time, but a fine save from Donal O’Sullivan to deny Martin Johnson confirmed that Limerick’s goal was under regular threat.

The impressive Stephen Cahill got Limerick off to a good start with the first point after the break, and after another fine O’Sullivan save, Ryan pointed a tricky free for a four-point lead.

The injured Tomas McCann was unable to start for Antrim, but he came on and added a threat up front for his side, and after his free and another from Ryan Murray, that lead was don’t o two again.

But Ryan settled Limerick with his second point and O’Sullivan saved Limerick again with a top class save to keep out Ryan Murray, and after that it was left to McSweeney to seal the win in added-time.

Scorers – Limerick: S McSweeney 1-3 (1-0pen, 3f), I Ryan 1-2 (1f), S Cahill 0-1. Antrim: R Murray (2f), K Niblock (1f), P McBride 0-2; M Fitzpatrick, T McCann (1f), S Burke,  0-1.

Limerick: D O’Sullivan; P Browne, S Cahill, S O’Dea; B Fanning, J McCarthy, P Ranahan; D Treacy, S Buckley; G Noonan, P Nash, T Childs; S McSweeney, I Ryan (c), H Bourke.

Subs: E Hogan for Bourke (50), P Hannon for Nash (63), I Corbett for Childs (66).

Antrim: C Kerr; K O’Boyle, J Crozier, R Johnson; P McBride, P Gallagher, M Sweeney; S McVeigh, M McCann; J Laverty, M Fitzpatrick, K Niblock (c); R Murray, N McKeever, S Burke.

Subs: M Johnson for McVeigh (20), D McAleese for Laverty (30), C Murray for Gallagher (h-t), P McAleer for R Johnson (h-t), T McCann for McKeever (56), J Carron for Burke (66).

Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).

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