Friday 23 March 2018

Scanlon delivers on cue for Limerick

NFL division 4 final

MICKEY Ned O'Sullivan ran into a brick wall of Dublin defenders of which full-back Sean Doherty was the centre-piece at Croke Park in the 1975 All-Ireland final.

You might see it on TG4 reruns, but anyone who watched it live, shuddered at the impact. Mickey Ned, Kerry captain, was knocked out and taken to hospital while his team-mates went on to run the Dubs ragged.

The man from Kenmare might ponder the old saying 'what goes around, comes around' because 35 years later he was fully conscious to make a fateful decision that helped win Limerick's first piece of national silverware since their 1896 All-Ireland title. An intense final was delicately poised at 1-14 apiece with just three minutes of normal time left when Limerick won a '45.

Team captain Seanie Buckley stood over the ball, preparing to take a crucial kick. On the sideline, there was movement. Calls were being made. Buckley turned to see what the mentors were on about.

And then he saw goalkeeper Brian Scanlon loping up the field. Yes, Scanlon was being given the job of slotting the '45. He is the Limerick U-21 keeper and had only been training with the seniors for a couple of weeks.

Big moment. Big call by Mickey Ned and the sideline boys. Scanlon did not fail. He launched his kick and the ball arrowed like a heat-seeking missile as if locked onto the main bar at the Cat and Cage in Drumcondra. Point! Limerick lead!

Waterford kept battling but that score, coupled with the fatal miss of a goal chance just prior to the '45, combined to turn the game in Limerick's favour.

Scanlon had a hand -- literally -- in that episode too. He dived to parry a shot by Patrick Hurney. Tommy Prendergast's strike from the rebound beat the goalie but bounced back into play off the post.


Such tiny margins decided the destination of the trophy, and Mickey Ned revealed how close a call it was to give Scanlon the '45.

"It wasn't a plan. It was a small bit of inspiration from Stephen Lavin who was our water-carrier because he's out injured at the moment. Stephen says 'he'll put that over', so I said 'it's worth a chance'. I can't take any credit whatsoever," smiled the manager.

Of course, there was so much more to the win than those two incidents.

For a start, Limerick's corner-forwards Ger Collins and Ian Ryan posed constant problems, with Collins scoring 1-6 and Ryan contributing 0-5. Collins' goal after 13 minutes came from a hard, high shot that looked like an attempt at a point, but the ball dipped into the top corner, giving Waterford keeper Tom Wall no chance. Collins put the seal on a man-of-the-match performance by fisting over the insurance point in time added on. What a relief it was for Limerick to put away a hard-working Waterford team which wasted too many scoring chances, including a couple of goal attempts.

Liam O'Lionain, though, had powered the ball into the next after 49 minutes, to give Waterford a two-point lead.

That was typical of the pattern of the game. First one team, then the other enjoyed periods of dominance.

With the big open spaces of Croke Park inviting hard, positive runs and passing combinations launched from deep, there was plenty of open play and counter-attacking by both sides.

Limerick were on the receiving end early on, but Waterford didn't make their possession pay, although Brian Wall opened the scoring with a point after four minutes.

The Treaty men wrested control after Collins' 10th-minute goal, but in the last 12 minutes of the first half the Decies hauled themselves back into the game. They were trailing by five points but scores from Wayne Hennessey, Wall (2), Robert Ahearne and Grey once more brought them level.

Wall then scored a super point from over 30 metres to give Waterford the lead, only for Collins and Ryan -- who else? -- taking scores that put Limerick in the lead at half-time by 1-08 to 0-10. The war of attrition continued in the second half, but Limerick's combination of inspiration and perspiration at the crucial time brought them victory.

Scorers -- Limerick: G Collins 1-6 (0-3f), I Ryan 0-5, B Scanlon (0-1 '45), P Ranahan, S Buckley, J O'Donovan, E O'Connor 0-1 each. Waterford: B Wall 0-5 (0-3f), L O'Lionain 1-1, W Hennessey, T Grey 0-2 each, C McGrath, R Ahearne, N Hennessey, P Hurney 0-1 each.

Limerick -- B Scanlon 8; M O'Riordan 7, C Mullane 7, A Lane 7; D Carroll 6, P Browne 7, P Ranahan 8; J O'Donovan 8, J Galvin 8; J Mullane 7, C Joyce -Power 6, S Buckley 7; G Collins 8, J Ryan 7, I Ryan 8. Subs: S Gallagher 6 for D Carroll (h/t), S Kelly 6 for J Mullane (52), E O'Connor 6 for J Ryan (56), E Joy for A Lane (66), C Fitzgerald for C Joyce-Power (72).

Waterford --T Wall 7; M O'Gorman 6, T O'Gorman 6, K Connery 6; T Grey 7, S Briggs 8, N Hennessey 7; T Prendergast 7, M Ahern 6; B Wall 8, C McGrath 6, W Hennessey 6; G Hurney 6, R Ahearne 6, L O'Lionain 7. Subs: P Hurney 6 for R Ahearne (46), S Cunningham 6 for W Hennessey (59), C Phelan for K Connery (66), J Phelan for T Prendergast (70), M O'Gorman for N Hennessey (70).

Ref -- R O'Donnell (Donegal).

Irish Independent

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