14-man Limerick keep slim promotion hopes alive
Limerick 1-25 Offaly 3-15
JOHN Kiely’s Limerick kept their slim promotion hopes alive at the Gaelic Grounds – but were made to work for it by dogged Offaly.
The hosts lost John Fitzgibbon to a straight red card in the first half, for a wild overhead swipe on Conor Doughan, but still managed to secure a second successive League win against opponents who have tripped them up in recent years.
Despite shooting 2-11 for Offaly, Shane Dooley found himself on the losing side, as Ronan Lynch hit ten of his eleven Limerick points from placed balls.
Offaly had the numerical advantage from the 33rd minute but they couldn’t make it count, despite hitting two goals in a minute in the second half.
Dooley and Oisín Kelly raised green flags but Limerick’s response was impressive as they collected seven of the remaining nine points on offer to win by four.
Offaly, lining out without suspended pair Aidan Treacy and Sean Gardiner, remain deep in relegation trouble after a third successive defeat but they can take some positives from this display.
At half-time, Offaly led by two points, 1-13 to 0-4, despite falling six points down inside nine minutes.
Limerick were quick out of the blocks and a run of six unanswered points opened up that early lead, even with the hosts operating into the teeth of a breeze.
But Offaly settled and four Dooley frees had the Faithful County back in touch, trailing by just two with less than 13 minutes on the clock.
Limerick managed to keep daylight between themselves and the visitors until Dooley bagged a levelling goal in the 27th minute.
The Tullamore hitman went for goal from a 20m free but saw his effort blocked.
That wasn’t the end of it though as Limerick failed to clear their lines and when the ball flashed back across the face of goal, Dooley was on hand to find the net from close range.
Level at 1-9 to 0-12, Offaly sensed that there could be something in this for them and Conor Doughan’s point handed them the lead for the first time.
Scores from Dooley and Cillian Kiely opened up a three-point advantage before Fitzgibbon saw red.
Another Dooley free stretched Offaly’s lead to four but Limerick remained in touch with points from Lynch (free) and Gearoid Hegarty in first half stoppage time.
Andrew La Touche Cosgrave's goal early in the second half was a real boost for Limerick but they still had work to do before collecting maximum points.
Scorers for Limerick: R Lynch 0-11 (10f), A La Touche Cosgrave 1-1, G Hegarty 0-3, P Ryan & J Ryan 0-2 each, D Byrnes, J Fitzgibbon, D Dempsey, S Tobin, D O’Donovan & G Mulcahy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Offaly: S Dooley 2-11 (0-8f, 0-1 sl), O Kelly 1-0, C Doughan 0-2, C Kiely & E Nolan 0-1 each.
Limerick: D McCarthy; S Finn, R McCarthy, M Casey; S Hickey, D Byrnes, D Hannon; P Ryan, J Fitzgibbon; G Hegarty, D Dempsey, J Ryan; A La Touche Cosgrave, S Tobin.
Subs: D O’Donovan for P Ryan (55), G Mulcahy for Tobin (57), S Cahill for Finn (61), A Dempsey for La Touche Cosgrave (64).
Offaly: J Dempsey; M Cleary, P Delaney, P Rigney; S Ryan, D Short, B Conneely; P Guinan, C Doughan; S Cleary, S Dooley, O Kelly; E Nolan, C Kiely, P Geraghty.
ubs: D Morkan for Guinan (h.t.), A Cleary for Geraghty (49), J Mulrooney for Kiely (49), L Langton for Nolan (61), S Quirke for S Cleary (67).
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)