Sport Hurling

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Allen praises Treaty show of strength

Limerick 8-26
Antrim 1-15

Limerick's Niall Moran, left, in action against Michael Herron, Antrim
Limerick's Niall Moran, left, in action against Michael Herron, Antrim

Limerick continued their rampage through the back door as they followed up their 25-point rout of Laois by thumping Antrim at the Gaelic Grounds.

"That's where we wanted to be. I'm very pleased that we're making progress," said Limerick manager John Allen.

"The main thing is building a squad; the training, the atmosphere and all of that is very good. We won our two games comprehensively."

He already possesses a forward line brimming with confidence, but with Declan Hannon shining off the bench and Kevin Downes and Conor Allis still on the injured list, Allen could have an embarrassment of riches in the coming weeks.

"We could easily have left the team as it was in the last two games and learned nothing, but we've used the opportunities to look and to assess. We now have 22 or more players really pushing for places."

Despite Antrim failing to give them a competitive match, this Limerick showing will be noticed.

Shane Dowling was in devastating form in front of goal. He followed Niall Moran's example from the Laois game last week with a super hat-trick, while Moran himself bagged another two goals.

By the ninth minute, four of those goals had arrived and after the early barrage, Jim Nelson's side did well to muster any response.

"When you concede eight goals in any game you are never going to win it. But it is the devastating effect that it has on a team when you are conceding goal after goal after goal, and I think the heads went down a wee bit," said Nelson.

"It raised the alarm bells from the early goal and after that it was hard to lift it. I think we conceded five goals in the first half and it was always going to be an uphill battle. What can you say? Limerick were good and we couldn't match them in that department," said the man who led the Saffrons to the 1989 All-Ireland final.

Holding a 5-7 to 0-13 lead at the break, Limerick began to pick off their points with style, Hannon, Mulcahy and Dowling all raising white flags before the next flurry of goals.

Dowling completed his hat-trick in the 39th minute and two more goals in two minutes from Moran and Mulcahy completed the rout by the 53rd minute.

Late on, Neil McManus bagged a slight consolation for Antrim, before Nicky Quaid turned Liam Watson's injury-time penalty over the bar.

Scorers -- Limerick: S Dowling 3-9 (5f, 0-1 '65'), G Mulcahy 2-4, N Moran 2-0, S Tobin 1-3, D Hannon 0-6, S O'Brien 0-2, R McCarthy, T O'Brien 0-1 each. Antrim: L Watson 0-7 (5f, 0-1 pen), N McManus 1-1, S McNaughton 0-3, B McAuley 0-2, N McAuley, E McCloskey 0-1 each.

Limerick -- N Quaid 7; S Walsh 7, R McCarthy 7, T Condon 8; W McNamara 8, D O'Grady 7, G O'Mahony 8; J Ryan 7, T O'Brien 8; S Dowling 9, B Geary 6, D Breen 6; G Mulcahy 9, N Moran 7, S Tobin 7. Subs: D Hannon 8 for Breen (16), S O'Brien 7 for Geary (50), S O'Neill 6 for Condon (53), S Hickey 6 for McNamara (54).

Antrim -- D Quinn 7; PJ O'Connell 6, N McGarry 5, A Graffin 5; M Gettens 5, J Campbell 6, N McAuley 6; B McAuley 7, S McNaughton 7; E McCloskey 6, N McManus 7, B McFall 6; P Shiels 6, C Carson 7, L Watson 6. Subs: J Kerr 6 for O'Connell (21), J Scullion 6 for McFall (h-t), M Hernon 6 for Gettens (46).

Ref -- J Ryan (Tipperary).

The game at a glance

Man of the match

Shane Dowling (Limerick)

On a day when so many Limerick men excelled, it was Dowling's scoring prowess that caught the eye.

Turning point

Two goals in the ninth minute from Niall Moran and Dowling ended any hopes of a northern revival.

Talking point

Where do Antrim go now after this heavy defeat and their loss to Westmeath in Leinster?

Magic moment

Dowling's first goal was a thing of beauty as he fired an unstoppable ground stroke past the 'keeper.

What they said

John Allen (Limerick manager):

"I don't think any team will relish playing us though we'll probably be underdogs no matter who we play."

Jim Nelson (Antrim manager):

"Goals have a devastating effect. We were picking off points, but while we were doing that they were picking off goals."

Match statistics

Wides: Limerick 7 (2 in first half) Antrim 16 (11)

Frees: Limerick 7 (2) Antrim 9 (5)

Yellow Cards: Limerick 2 (S O'Neill 66, R McCarthy 71); Antrim 2 (N McManus 49, M Herron 55).

What's next?

Limerick wait a week to see who they face in Phase 3 of the qualifiers. Antrim are out of the championship but have the Ulster final next week.

Irish Independent

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