Limerick run riot to set up promotion decider
Limerick 6-29 Laois 1-12
Limerick maintained their unbeaten run in Division 1B of the National Hurling League with a 32-point humiliation of Laois, who will now do well to avoid a relegation play-off; they need a win against Wexford to have any chance of retaining their status.
For Limerick, everything depends on next week's derby against Clare, where the winner will claim promotion to the top flight.
Declan Hannon was a late withdrawal for the home side with a foot injury, but his replacement, Barry Nash, made a real impression. Two minutes in, he opened the scoring with a great point from the left sideline, and three minutes later, he set the tone for the 70 minutes when he gathered the break off Kevin O'Brien and beat goalkeeper Eoin Reilly with a crisp, low drive.
Limerick also shot well from distance in the first quarter and three points from Paul Browne in that period kept them well ahead, despite a couple of scores from PJ Scully and Ryan Mullaney.
Two points in a minute from John Fitzgibbon gave the home side a 1-7 to 0-3 lead after 17 minutes, and the stunning eight minutes that followed ended any hopes of a Laois comeback.
Six unanswered points in four minutes made it 1-13 to 0-4; Nash then fired low past Reilly for a goal in the 27th minute and his long handpass sent Fitzgibbon in for a third a minute later.
The game resembled a training session at that stage as Limerick seemed to pick their points at will and two more scores from Fitzgibbon gave them a 3-15 to 0-6 lead at half-time.
Further goals from Graeme Mulcahy, Pat Ryan and Michel Ryan underlined Limerick's dominance in the second half, as PJ Scully's late strike for Laois barely impacted the embarrassing winning margin.
Scorers - Limerick: J Fitzgibbon 1-14 (9f), B Nash 2-2, G Mulcahy 1-1, P Browne, T Morrissey 0-4, M Ryan, P Ryan 1-0, K O'Brien 0-2, G O'Mahony, D Byrne 0-1 (f). Laois: PJ Scully 1-5 (4f), C Dwyer 0-3, C Collier, R Mullaney, R King, S Maher 0-1.
Limerick: B Hennessy; T Condon, R McCarthy, S O'Brien; P O'Brien, D Byrnes, S Hickey; P Ryan, P Browne; G O'Mahony, T Morrissey, J Fitzgibbon; G Mulcahy, K O'Brien, B Nash. Subs: G Hegarty for S O'Brien (h-t), M Ryan for Nash (h-t), W McNamara for Byrnes (45), B O'Connell for Browne (59).
Laois: E Reilly; J Phelan, D Maher, C Healy; L Bergin, N Foyle, R Mullaney; P Purcell, C Collier; C Dwyer, S Maher, M Whelan; W Dunphy, W Hyland, PJ Scully. Subs: J Walsh for Foyle (h-t), T Delaney for Bergin (h-t), R King for Purcell (h-t), O Carroll for Phelan (48), J Ryan for O'Mahony (51), C Stapleton for Dunphy (63).
Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath)
Sunday Indo Sport